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The parts of a thesis

Length and Content

The body of the thesis should be no more than 50 pages, including tables, figures and illustrations. Writers should keep in mind that this is a ceiling, not a target. Many writers write more when they ought to write more clearly. All research writing should be clear and concise. The basic document specifications are listed here.

Submission and Reproduction of Final Draft

Requirements may vary from School to School. Check with your advisor or the School Secretary to confirm the process for submission, production and binding of your final draft. The final version of the thesis should be submitted to the Chair of the Academic Committee or the School Secretary on or before the announced date prior to graduation.

Title Page ( page i of your document)

The AIT approved format for the title page must be followed precisely and all title pages must be approved by the Language Center and the Registry

For Master’s Students

Click here for Thesis Title Page Format                                   Master’s Thesis Title Page Sample

For Doctoral Students

Click here for Thesis/Dissertation Title Page Format           Thesis/Dissertation Title Page Sample            

For Undergraduate Students

Click here for Title Page Format                                                  Title Page Sample            


Five steps for having your title page approved:

  • Print out of your title page
  • Have your advisor approve your title by signing the title page
  • Write your email address, student ID number and Field of Study at the top of the signed title page
  • Submit your signed title page to the Language Center for grammar checking
  • Pick up your title page from the Language Center after 1 – 2 days and then submit it to the Registry

Acknowledgement (page ii)

The content and phrasing of acknowledgments are for you as the author to decide. The Chicago Manual of Style notes that, “Extravagant dedications are things of the past.” Number this page with a lower case Roman numeral ii (two).

Abstract (page iii)

The abstract should be 200 words maximum. If your abstract exceeds 200 words, shorten it. Abstracts are commonly entered into computer databases where storage capacity is a consideration. Number this page with a lower case Roman numeral iii (three). 

Table of Contents (page iv)

The Table of Contents should fit on one page. There are two styles for chapter titles and so there are two styles for the Table-of-Contents page. They are the word – processed style and the type written style. Choose one style and be consistent. Make sure every chapter and section is entitled in the same style both in the Table of Contents and throughout the document. For both styles, follow these rules.

Omit third level sub-section headings from the table of contents.

Second level section headings may use either title capitalization or sentence capitalization (i.e., as in sentences only the first letter of the first word and names (proper nouns and adjectives) are capitalized; all other words in the title appear in lower case). Normally third level headings (subsection headings) follow sentence capitalization.

Compare Example 1 and 2 below. Note that first level chapter titles differ in the two styles. Note that these are written in bold type in both styles.

Number the Table of Contents page with a lower case Roman numeral iv (four).

See Figure 2 below for a sample of a word-processed table-of-contents page. The page has been manually constructed by a three-column table in Microsoft Word. See Figure 3 below for the table with grid lines.

Figure 2: Sample word-processed table-of-contents page.

As mentioned, the Table of Contents shown above was created manually. The table’s gridlines and paragraph boundaries are visible in Fig. 3.

Figure 3: Sample table- of-contents page with MS Word grid lines.

Download the Table of Contents template here.


Chapter Titles and Section Headings

Chapter titles or section headings should give the reader a clear indication of the content that follows. Chapter titles should be centered and bold. Sections may be bold; first level must use title capitalization or ALL CAPS; second level be in title or sentence capitalization –not all caps. Third level headings should be in sentence capitalization. Compare the two styles in Examples 1 and 2 below.

Example 1 – Word-processed style

First level Chapter Title 

(title capitalization)

Centered Chapter 1 Introduction
Second level Section heading

(title capitalization)

Left-aligned 1.1 Background of the Study 

1.2 Statement of the Problem 

1.3 Objectives of the Research

Third level Subsection (sentence capitalization) Left-aligned 1.3.1 Overall objective 

1.3.2 Specific objectives

 Example 1 – Typewritten style

First level Chapter Title Centered CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
Second level Section heading

(sentence capitalization)

Left-aligned 1.1 Background of the study

1.2 Statement of the problem

1.3 Objectives of the research

Third level Subsection (sentence capitalization) Left-aligned 1.3.1 Overall objective

1.3.2 Specific objectives

Try to avoid a fourth level subsection (e.g. Discuss appropriate chapter titles and section headings with your advisor.

Traditional thesis chapter titles include:

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Results and Discussion
  • Conclusion and Recommendations
  • Appendices
  • References/Bibliography

Methodology may be replaced with ‘Model Formulation’ or a more appropriate title depending on the type of research conducted. Results and Discussion or Analysis of Results may be treated as separate sections or chapters. Conclusion and Recommendations are usually treated as two within the final chapter. Note there is usually only one conclusion in respect to the Introduction’s Statement of the Problem; normally, more than one recommendation is made (e.g., one or more for application of the current findings and one or more for further research) so this word is often plural. If only one recommendation is made, however, then the singular Recommendation should be used in the title.

The References section is a list of all works the writer has cited or referred to in the text. A Bibliography is a list of works the writer read or consulted but did not cite directly in the text. Use whichever is appropriate. As always, consult your advisor if you are unsure.

Citing References

When citing references in the text, use the author’s last name only.

If there are two authors: Nordberg and Wildung (1978).

Notice that the full stop (or period) follows the closing parenthesis.

If there are more than two authors: Nordberg et al. (1978).

Notice there is no period after ‘et’.

Do not CAPITALIZE or bold face the author’s name.

Example: Writer A

It has been found, for example, that sodium selenite administered at appropriate doses increases the life span of experimental animals given toxic doses of both cadmium and mercury (Nordberg, 1978).

Here the reference or citation is (Nordberg, 1978). Notice that that in this case the emphasis is on

Nordberg’s findings rather than Nordberg.

Example: Writer B

Nordberg (1978) found, for example, that sodium selenite administered at appropriate doses increases the life span of experimental animals given toxic doses of both cadmium and mercury. Here Writer B refers to or cites Nordberg using the word “found.” Notice that here the emphasis is not only on Nordberg’s findings but on Nordberg or the Nordberg approach to investigating administration of selenite.

When citing multiple references, separate the author’s names with semi-colons.


Various types of irrigation models have been developed for specific uses (Mahbub et al., 1975; Kraazt, 1975).

List of References

There are many acceptable variations in referencing style. Whatever style is chosen (or invented), the key is consistency. Standard style manuals have detailed guidelines for books, journal articles, conference proceedings, a single chapter in a book, unpublished material, public documents, magazines and newspapers, international bodies and non-book materials. Consult one of the standard reference works listed in Resources for Writers for details.

Recall that the References section is a list of all works the writer has cited or referred to in the text. A Bibliography is a list of works the writer read or consulted but did not cite directly in the text. Use whichever is appropriate. As always, consult your advisor if you are unsure.

For a thesis, a list of references is arranged in alphabetic order by last name of the author with the date of publication immediately following the author’s name. The following information is usually included.


  • name of author(s), editor(s) or the organization responsible for the book or document
  • date of publication
  • full title, including subtitle if any
  • title of series, if any, and volume number in the series
  • volume number or total number of volumes in a multi-volume work
  • edition, if not the original
  • city of publication (use the first city if there is a list) and country
  • publisher’s name, if given.


REFERENCES:  Features Common to the References for All Documents

1. Author: family name of a person followed by initials or  the name of an organization. 

For example:    Smith, R. U.         United Nations.        

If no author is given, then write the title in place of the author. (newspaper articles)

2. Year: the year of publication. 

For magazines and newspapers include the  month and date as well. This information is put within parentheses after the author. 

For example:  Smith, R.U. (2009).  or  Smith, R.U. (2009, April 4).  If no year or date is given, then write:  Smith, R.U. (n.d.).

3. Title: the title of the book, report, journal article, magazine or newspaper article.

If the document is a book, a report or webpage, then the title appears in italic type.   For example : Smith, R.U.  (2009).  How to Write a Thesis.

If the “title” is for one article (in a book, journal, newspaper, magazine, etc.), the title appears in regular type. The name or title of the book, journal, etc. appears in italics.

4.Where was the document published?: in-print  or  on-line?   

If you read a document printed on paper, it is in print. However, if you read a document on your computer screen or your read a print-out or photocopied version of document that appears in cyberspace, then it is an online document.  

There are two ways to reference (give directions to) online documents: 

1. The first is to write the words Retrieved from at the end of the reference and to give the URL for the document. For example:

Dalhousie University Libraries. (2009). APA Style Quick Guide. Retrieved from  http://www.library.dal.ca/how/apa_style.pdf

2. The other is to specify the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number for the document if it has one. (See below for more information on DOI.)

Lee, D-Y., Lee, J., Hwang, J., & Choa, S-H. (2007). Effect of relative humidity and disk acceleration on tribocharge build-up at a slider–disk interface. Journal of Tribology International, 40 (8), 1253-1257.


5. Note that the second and subsequent lines of each reference are indented. This is called “hanging indent”.  The Microsoft Word keystroke shortcut is <Control+T>.

Highlight the reference and click <Cntrl+T>.


About  doi:

A digital object identifier (DOI/doi) can be used to cite and link to electronic documents. A DOI is guaranteed never to change, so you can use it to link permanently to electronic documents.

  1. Copy the DOI of the document you want to open. The correct format for citing a DOI is as follows: doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2003.10.071
  2. Open the following DOI site in your browser:  http://dx.doi.org
  3. Enter the entire DOI citation in the text box provided, and then click Go. The document that matches the DOI citation will display in your browser window.
 The DOI scheme is administered by the International DOI Foundation. Many of the world’s leading publishers have come together to build a DOI-based document linking scheme known as CrossRef.


 Journal articles

  • name of author(s)
  • date of publication
  • title of article (use title or sentence capitalization; see example)
  • name of journal or periodical
  • volume number
  • issue number
  • first and last page number.

Journal Articles – in print & online 

one author:

Fisher, D.P. (1993). Microwave exposure levels encountered by police traffic radar operators. IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility, 35(1), 36-42.

Quinlain, K. M. (2000). Generating productive learning issues in PBL tutorials: An exercise to help tutors help students. Medical Education Online, 4. Retrieved from http://www.mededonline.org


two to six authors:

 (in print)

Abdul-Wahhab, H. A. & Ziauddin K. (1991). A laboratory evaluation of two asphalt mix design methods and characterization tests to assess rutting potential. Australian Road Research, 21(4), 910-924.

 (on-line – doi)

Wang, C. M., Xiang, Y., Kitipornchai, S. & Liew, K. M. (1994). Buckling solutions for Mindlin plates of various shapes. Engineering Structures,16(2). 


(on-line – URL)

Tahir Hussein, M.,  Awad, H., Allafouza, O., & Al Ahmadi, F. (2009). Assessing elements of surface hydrology for environmental quality characterisation of a site northwest of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, 20(2), 192-204. Retrieved from www.emeraldinsight.com/10.1108/14777830910939499

 more than six authors  (List six authors, then comma + et al.):

Mariani, R., Ottini, L., Caramiello, S., Palmiro, R., Mallegni, F., Rossi, L., et al. (2001). Taphonomy of the fossil hominid bones from the Acheulean site of Castel di Guido near Rome, Italy. Journal of Human Evolution, 41, 211-225.


Research Study, Thesis or Dissertation.

Chritamara, S. (2001). Systems dynamics modeling for design-build construction projects. (Doctoral dissertation, ST-01-1, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok). Disseration Abstracts International, 62, 781.

Wilfley, D. E. (1989). Interpersonal analyses of bulimia: Normal-weight and obese. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Missouri, Columbia.  

Chang, L. D. (1990) Applying R&D project dynamics management to construction projects. Unpublished master’s research study No. IE-90-1, Asian Institute of Technololgy, Bangkok.  

Almeida, D. M. (1990). Fathers’ participation in family work: Consequences for fathers’ stress and father-child relations.  Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.


Lecture Notes

Vongvissesomjai, S. (2002). Engineering Mathematics (Lecture notes, Course CE01.11, School of Engineering and Technology).  Bangkok: Asian Institute of Technology.


BOOKS in print / not online                               

one author: 

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books. 

two to six authors:  

Cargill, O., Charvat, W., & Walsh, D. D. (1966). The publication of academic writing. New York: Modern Language Association. 

more than six authors:  

Cooper, L., Eagle, K., Howe, L., Reims, H., Robertson, A., Taylor, D., et al. (1982). How to stay younger while growing older: Aging for all ages. London: Macmillan. 

no author given:  (Note that the title is used in place of an author.)  

Experimental psychology. (1938). New York: Holt. 

no publication date given:  

Smith, J. (n.d.). Morality in masquerade. London: Churchill. 

an organization or institution as author:  

University of Minnesota. (1985). Social psychology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 

U.S. Census Bureau. (2000). Statistical abstract of the United States. Washington, DC:

U.S. Government Printing Office. 

an editor as author:  

Updike, J. (Ed.). (1999). The best American short stories of the century. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

conference proceedings:  

Schnase, J. L., & Cunnius, E. L. (Eds.). (1995). Proceedings of CSCL ’95: The First International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. 

online BOOKS  not in print                        

online book retrieved from a database:  

Murray, T. H. (1996). The worth of a child. Berkeley: University of California Press. Retrieved from netLibrary database. 

online book with direct link to item:  

Bryant, P. (1999). Biodiversity and Conservation. Retrieved from http://darwin.bio.uci.edu/~sustain/bio65/Titlpage.htm 

online technical or research report:  

Russo, A. C., & Jiang, H. J. (2006). Hospital stays among patients with diabetes, 2004

(Statistical Brief #17). Retrieved from Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality: http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb17.jsp 


PART OF A BOOK – in print or online  article or chapter in an edited book in print: 

Rubenstein, J.P. (1967). The effect of television violence on small children. In B. F. Kane (Ed.), Television and juvenile psychological development (pp. 112-134). New York: American Psychological Society.

article or chapter in an edited online book:  

Symonds, P.M. (1958). Human drives. In C. L. Stacey & M. DeMartino (Eds.), Understanding human motivation (pp. 11-22). Retrieved from PsycBOOKS database. 

paper in print from the proceedings of a conference: 

 Storer, G. (1993). Developing Effective Trainers: A case study from an ILO project in Cambodia. In W. Savage (Ed.), Proceedings of the AIT – RELC Conference, 1993: Language Programs in Development Projects. Bangkok: Asian Institute of Technology.

online paper from the proceedings of a conference: 

Miller, S. (2000). Introduction to manufacturing simulation. In Proceedings of the 2000

Winter Simulation Conference, (pp. 63-66). Retrieved from  http://www.informs-sim.org/wsc00papers/011.PDF

Other Documents – in print & online 

numbered report or government document:

National Institutes of Mental Health. (1990). Training nurses who care for patients with serious mental illness (MHS Publication No. ADM 90-553). Bangkok: Ministry of Public Health. 

non-English document [English title appears in square brackets.]:

Lem, S. (1971).  Ze wspomnien Ijona Tichego; Kongres futurologiczny. [The Futurological Congress: from the memoirs of Ijon Tichy].  Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie.


Smith, I.M. (1988) Microchip. U.S. Patent No. 123,445. Washington, D.C: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved from http://www.uspto.gov

daily newspaper or magazine [ if no author, then title as author]:

Migration policy ‘lacks balance’. (2009, April 2). Bangkok Post, p. 4.

Charoenpo, A. (2009, April 2) Pattaya rally puts focus on Apisit. Bangkok Post, p. 1.



Appendices follow the list of references. Number or letter appendices and give each a title as if it were a chapter.


Appendix 1: Questionnaire

Appendix 2: BOI Regulations

Appendix A: Derivation of Equations