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Thesis Preparation: Home

The library supports students in their thesis preparation through a range of specialist supports in refining a research topic, sourcing material for your thesis and in the provision of tools to manage your bibliography.

Doing a thesis at UL

Having given careful consideration to the topic of your research, you may now know who your supervisor is and have a clear idea of where to begin with your thesis. If you are not a UL student but interested in conducting research we invite you to use this guide as a pre-registration resource where you can become familiar with library resources and supports, explore the literature to support your research, and understand some of the critical skills you will need as you carry out the research required for a masters thesis e.g. information seeking, source appraisal and academic referencing. 

To find yourself a research supervisor you may conduct UL's Find an Expert site

Within its Handbook of Academic Regulations and Procedures the University of Limerick has very helpful information for all students submitting a thesis. Within this handbook, specifically section 5.12 Thesis Specifications and Appendix 2: Requirements for the Preparation and Submission of Masters and Doctoral Theses you will find the rules relating to theses at UL. 

How to wriite your thesis

This excellent presentation succinctly highlights the structure of a thesis or dissertation and covers all of its essential aspects including: title, abstract, methodology, literature review, presentation of findings and conclusion.

Viewing past theses from UL and other institutions

The library holds print copies of theses from some UL postgraduate programmes. Go to the library catalogue and enter your search terms in the search box to locate a thesis of interest. 

To view e-theses held in the UL Institutional Repository visit the ULIR page. 

Students can also view theses from other colleges and universities.  To do this, visit the UL Library Databases page and under the letter “d” consult the database Dissertations and Theses (A and I)

Your Faculty Librarians

Faculty Librarians can provide guidance and support on:

  • Defining topics/research questions (compiling a taxonomy of keywords)
  • Selecting useful resources (grey literature, internet searching etc)
  • Building an effective search strategy (combining free text terms and subject headings etc)
  • Selecting papers (inclusion, exclusion criteria)
  • Managing results (saving searches, using bibliographic management software)

Education and Health Sciences Librarian Liz Dore

Science and Engineering Librarian Micheál O hAodha

Arts Humanities & Social Sciences, IWAMD Librarian Pattie Punch

Kemmy Business School Librarian Peter Reilly

Thesis or Dissertation - what is it?

The words Thesis and Dissertation are often used interchangeably. Within institutions, there can be slight differences and within the University of Limerick’s Academic Regulations a taught masters thesis is referred to as a dissertation and a research masters or PhD thesis is referred to as a thesis. So a thesis or dissertation is the final academic document submitted for the award of masters degree or beyond.

Within your thesis you must show evidence of independent enquiry and/or originality in either conclusions or method. A thesis submitted for a PhD degree must show evidence of independent enquiry, originality in the methods used and/or in the conclusions drawn and must make an appreciable new contribution to knowledge or thinking in the candidate’s field.

It is a good idea to consult previous theses before beginning on your own as this will give you a good sense of the format and organization of a thesis in your subject discipline in addition to the standard and style of academic writing required. It is also a good idea (in conjunction) with your supervisor/s) to agree on a specific thesis topic and to map out a timetable for each section of the thesis and its completion.

What your thesis supervisor is looking for



Any piece of work submitted for academic awards needs to be carefully prepared in line with the guidelines issued by your supervisor and institution. Your supervisor for your thesis oversees drafts of your work, will offer feedback that you should incorporate in the next revision of your submission. It is important to present your work clearly and professionally, setting out your research question clearly, describe your methods fully and say why they are appropriate to your thesis, prepare your literature review thoroughly, construct your arguments logically and present your findings clearly and with evidence.  The article linked below has good insights and one nugget of advice to take away is "help your examiners to follow your train of thought: explain what you are doing and why, especially if your thesis differs from what they would expect". 

Clinton Golding (2017) Advice for writing a thesis (based on what examiners do), Open Review of Educational Research, 4:1, 46-60, DOI: 10.1080/23265507.2017.1300862

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