The thesis

A masters thesis involves independent scholarly research under the guidance of a supervisor.

About the thesis

The thesis is completed for a research masters and can be either 120 or 90 points.


  • A 120-point thesis is one piece of work of around 40,000 words.
  • A 90-point thesis is one piece of work of around 30,000 words.

Academic expectations

You are expected to demonstrate your ability to:

  • Master sophisticated subject matter.
  • Design a well-structured, relevant and integrated plan of research.
  • Carry out a research project using appropriate methods of investigation and analysis.
  • Identify and critically evaluate the findings and discussions in scholarly literature and other forms of information.
  • Engage in rigorous intellectual analysis, criticism and problem solving.
  • Engage in independent thinking, informed by relevant scholarly literature and other research.
  • Argue and reach conclusions that are informed by independent enquiry and other available information.
  • Use language effectively to communicate research findings and supporting argumentation.

Previous theses

The University Library holds a copy of every thesis.

Formatting and binding

You must format and present your thesis in accordance with University standards. Refer to the guidelines for theses and dissertations for more information.

The University Bindery can be found at 4 Neilpark Drive, Highbrook, East Tamaki.


Course codes for enrolment

Theses have individual alphanumeric course codes. See the "postgraduate courses" page for your subject. Visit our subjects and courses page.

Approval and prerequisites

Enrolment in a thesis is at the discretion of the disciplinary area, and there may be prerequisites.

Semester One or Two start

If approved, you may be able to either:

  • Begin in Semester One and complete in Semester Two, or
  • Begin in Semester Two and complete in Semester One of the following year.


Submission dates

Please see the Calendar for information on submission dates.

Faculty student centres manage the examination process for masters theses and research portfolios. Students will now need to submit one temporary-bound copy of their work and one digital copy (PDF sent via email to to their faculty.

Faculty of Arts research masters students need to submit their thesis to the Arts Assignment Centre (Humanities Building, 14a Symonds St, Level 3, Room 307).

If you are enrolled in an Arts degree in a non-Arts administered subject such as Economics, Education, Employment Relations and Organisation Studies, Geography, Mathematics, Music, Psychology or Statistics, you will need to submit your thesis to the relevant faculty.

If you are unsure where to submit for a particular faculty, get in touch with the relevant student centre.

What happens next?

Students will be sent the substantive comments that their examiners have made, and thesis candidates will be able to make minor corrections to their work before having their thesis hard-bound and deposited in the University library.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact the Arts Students’ Centre.

Extensions and suspensions

In certain circumstances you may be approved an extension of time.

If you need an extension, your request must be endorsed by your disciplinary area and approved by the Faculty’s Assistant Dean (Postgraduate).

See your supervisor in the first instance. The following conditions apply:

  • Approval may only be granted if you require the extension because of exceptional circumstances beyond your control.
  • Extensions will not normally exceed one semester.
  • You must be enrolled for the extension period and will be charged tuition fees at the rate of 10 points for each two-month period or part thereof.
  • If circumstances such as illness prevent you from working on your thesis, it may be advisable to request a suspension and take time off rather than have an extension of time.


You are expected to be enrolled on a continuous basis. If you need to take time off because of exceptional circumstances, you must request approval to suspend your enrolment. You may be permitted to suspend your enrolment for not normally more than two consecutive semesters.

The period of suspension will not count towards the time limits for degree completion.

See your supervisor in the first instance. Your request must be endorsed by your disciplinary area and approved by the Faculty’s Assistant Dean (Postgraduate).