Suggested Work-Scheme for Your Thesis

Although work-schemes are altered by such variables as subject, individual responsibilities and/or commitments (of both you and your supervisor) and whether you are working full-time or part-time on your thesis, there are some broad factors which are generically applicable. The following is a list of some main features (as time scale will be different in individual cases, rather than referring to ‘years’ this suggested scheme refers instead to ‘stages’ in your work):

  • Do not expect to do much more than read intensively during the first stage of your thesis, incorporating the time spent on your thesis proposal, as it will take a while to immerse yourself thoroughly in any Ph.D. research topic.
  • During this stage, you will also be making notes and compiling a working bibliography, in the correct referencing style (see the section in this guide on referencing), together with conducting inferential analysis of your evidence.
  • Moving on to the second stage, you will now begin to draft chapters of your thesis (see section in this guide on writing and structuring your thesis). There is no need to write your thesis in chronological order, especially in first drafts, as it can be extremely difficult to write the introduction first and it may give you confidence to write the chapter about which you feel most comfortable and/or enthusiastic before the rest – ironically, many students write their introduction last – just before they choose their title!
  • Arrange regular meetings with your supervisor, maybe as often as fortnightly at first, but you must be flexible as the supervisor will have commitments of his or her own to which, out of deference to their position, you must give priority. In practice, however, most students and supervisors accommodate each others individual needs quite amicably. Submit everything you write to your supervisor and take on board their suggestions before rewriting (see the section in this guide on rewriting) and, if necessary, resubmitting the work.
  • In the final stage of your work, you should need to see your supervisor less and less, instead spending your time polishing your thesis as well as completing your bibliography and appendices in the correct manner.
  • Finally, you should prepare for your viva examination which takes place after you have submitted your written thesis but before the degree is finally awarded (see the section in this guide on preparing for your viva).

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