Nearing completion

Completing Your Studies

Nearing completion of your research program is exciting.

This section sets out information on how to submit your thesis, the thesis examination process and graduating from the Sydney College of Divinity.

Candidates are advised to contact their supervisor or the Research Director for current information and advise. The Registrar will help you with your graduation information.

Guidelines for the Preparation of the Thesis

All copies of the thesis should be in good quality typescript on one side of the paper only. In the main body of the thesis double-spacing of typescript is preferred, but one-and-a-half-spacing is acceptable. Single-spacing may be used only for appendices and footnotes or endnotes. The paper should be good quality, medium weight white stock, sufficiently opaque for normal reading.


Gender-inclusive language should be used except in quotations, paraphrases, or re-creations of the language used in a different culture. God may be referred to in the gender language appropriate to normal practice within a particular theological tradition.


The size of the paper should be A4 (297mm x 210mm) except for illustrative material such as drawings, maps and printouts, on which no restriction is placed.


The margins on each sheet should be not less than 40mm on the left-hand side, 20mm on the right-hand side, 30mm at the top, and 20mm at the bottom.


The recommended structural sequence of a thesis is as follows:


  • Title Page
  • Declaration of Originality
  • Acknowledgements (if any)
  • Preface (if any)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of illustrations and tables (if any)
  • Abstract
  • Introduction (if separate from Chapter 1)
  • Chapters in sequence
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix or appendices (if any)
  • Bibliography


The title page should contain the thesis title, author’s name, degree and year of submission.


The Declaration of Originality should take the following form:


This thesis is based upon original work by the author and a study of the relevant published works as indicated and acknowledged in the text.



(Author’s signature)




The table of contents should be reasonably detailed in a thesis, since an index is not usually included.


Beginning with the first page of the first chapter (which may be headed either ‘Introduction’ or ‘Chapter 1’) pages should be numbered consecutively using Arabic numerals. Preceding pages, except the title page, should normally be given lower case Roman numerals, beginning with the page immediately after the title page.


Each copy of the thesis should have an abstract of 500-700 words bound in. The abstract should indicate the problem investigated, the procedure followed, the general results obtained and the major conclusions reached. It should not contain any illustrative material or tables. Note that it should not be replicated in the introductory paragraphs.


Appendices contain any supplementary material that the author considers necessary to the interpretation of the text itself. Appendices elaborate information or argument expressed within the body of the thesis; they do not introduce substantial new information or new argument. Materials that are generally more appropriately included in an appendix would include long tables, data that supports arguments contained in the thesis, detailed reports, detailed technical arguments and computer printouts.


Materials such as illustrations, charts or tables must not be submitted on the back of typed sheets. Except with the approval of the supervisor, these should be bound facing the text to which they refer, or if necessary, as right-hand pages, immediately after the first reference to them. The caption should be placed at the bottom of the page.


Materials such as diagrams, maps, and tables that exceed A4 size should be either:


(i) folded so as to read as a right-hand page when opened; or

(ii) clearly referred to in the text, numbered and folded for insertion in a pocket in the back inside cover of the thesis binding.


Footnotes at the bottom of each page are preferred but endnotes are permitted. It is normal to begin footnotes or endnotes at 1 for each chapter. Harvard-style notes included in the main body of the thesis are not generally appropriate for advancing theological argument but may be permitted if clearly appropriate to a particular thesis.


Bibliography and Referencing

No single method of referencing is prescribed, but candidates should use one or other of the generally recognized systems of referencing and do so consistently.


Recommended Style Manuals:

  • That of the Journal of Theological Studies.
  • Patrick H. Alexander and others, The SBL Handbook of Style: For Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian Studies, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999, and Student Supplement rev. 2009.
  • Lawrence D. McIntosh, compiler, A Style Manual for the Presentation of Papers and Theses in Religion and Theology, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies in Association with ANZTLA and ANZATS, 1994.

Editing your thesis

When you are nearing completion of your thesis, you may want to consider, in consultation with your supervisor, the need to employ editing services, to add a final degree of polish to the presentation of your work for examination. This may entail:


  • Proof reading: ensuring spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct; fixing up issues with footnoting and the bibliography; consistency in fonts and text size and so on
  • Copy editing: clarifying the expression; making sure word usage is correct; breaking up overly long sentences while retaining meaning and so on.


Such a process should not change your argument, address shortcomings in your logic or evidence, or introduce new ideas (or delete existing ideas) into the thesis, and so on. They are not to be creative contributors to the thesis. Professional editors should adhere to The Institute of Professional Editors Guidelines for editing research theses.


Two things to keep in mind:

  • Using a professional editor is not cheap. However, it will improve the quality of the final product considerably. Using a professional editor, as distinct from a friend for example, also provides some assurance that they will adhere to the professional code of conduct for editing thesis.
  • If you use an editor, it is your responsibility to acknowledge the use of the service, and whether they adhere to the IPEd’s Australian standards for editing practice.


Any decision to use a professional editor must be made in consultation with your supervisor. It is not a good use of the supervisor’s time and expertise to expect him/her to do this for you.

Presenting the Thesis for Examination

Approximately three months before the expected date of submission the candidate should notify the Research Director that submission is expected at that time using the Intention to Submit form, unless this information has already been provided in the most recent semester report. If using the Intention to Submit form the candidate should ensure that the supervisor has provided comment.


TWO copies for MPhil thesis and THREE copies for either a DMin, PhD or ThD thesis must be submitted to the Research Director for examination. Temporary binding and medium bond paper should be used.


The supervisor is required to sign a Certification of Thesis to be submitted with the thesis.

Criteria for Thesis Assessment


The thesis will be assessed, amongst other things, according to the following criteria:


  • The clarity with which the research question/problem is stated and the scope of the study defined.
  • The appropriateness of the theoretical or conceptual framework to the investigation.
  • The appropriateness of the methodology to the research question/ problem.
  • The precision and consistency with which key terminology is used.
  • The depth of critical assessment of the relevant literature.
  • The capacity to demonstrate a link between the literature review and the research question/problem.
  • The degree of skill in constructing arguments and sustaining a position throughout the thesis.
  • The level of competency in considering possible objections to the position advanced in the thesis.
  • The degree of proficiency in using rigorous argument.
  • The careful and accurate presentation of the scholarly apparatus.
  • The originality (for doctorates) and the level of contribution made to the understanding of the subject.
  • A clear statement of the conclusions reached.
  • Justification of the conclusions reached in terms of the arguments presented.
  • An ability to relate the conclusions of the study to the wider field.
  • The suitability of a substantial amount of the material for publication.


Examination Process

Examiners should be suggested by the supervisor after discussion with the candidate but the candidate is not informed who is approached or appointed. When the examiners’ reports are received, the names of the examiners will be made available to the candidate unless an examiner requests otherwise. At the request of a candidate the College will agree that a certain person will not be appointed as an examiner if there is a reasonable expectation that the person would have a conflict of interest.


The thesis is submitted to the Research Director and the supervisor conveys suggestions for examiners to the Research Director, who undertakes preliminary enquiries. The examiners are appointed by the Research Committee at its first meeting following receipt of the thesis. It would be unusual for the Committee to depart completely from the supervisor’s suggestions.


Once the examiners have agreed to examine the thesis, they are normally expected to return their report within two months of having received the thesis.


For a DMin, PhD or ThD thesis three expert examiners are appointed, all external to the College, at least two of international standing. For an MPhil thesis two expert examiners are appointed, both external to the College.


Five categories of response are available:

  1. that the award be granted
  2. that minor amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  3. that major amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  4. that a significantly revised thesis be re-submitted for examination
  5. that the award not be granted.


The examiners’ reports are addressed to the Research Director and received by the Research Committee. In the case of unanimous agreement on category (1), the Committee will normally resolve to recommend award of the degree outright and send the reports to both the candidate and the supervisor for their information. In all other cases, the reports will be sent together by the Research Director to the supervisor, who is invited to write a response addressed to the Committee concerned. In light of both the examiners’ reports and the supervisor’s response, the Committee determines what instructions are to be given to the candidate and the date for amendments to be completed in the case of (b) or (c) or for re-submission in the case of (d). The Research Director then advises the candidate and the supervisor accordingly. Where amendments under (b) or (c) are required, these should be made in consultation with supervisor. When they have been completed satisfactorily, the supervisor will inform the Research Director, and the Research Director will inform the Committee. When revision under (4) is invited, the supervisor will continue in the normal supervisory role until resubmission and re-examination.


In light of the examiners’ reports and completion of any other required work, the Research Committee recommends accordingly to the Academic Board, which then sends its own recommendation on to Council for confirmation, and the candidate is invited to graduate.

Presentation and Binding of Thesis Following Examination

When the thesis has been examined and accepted, two copies bound in the manner described below should be sent to the Research Director, along with one copy in electronic form.


Each copy of the final version of the thesis should be bound in boards, covered with buckram or similar, and embossed on the spine as follows:

  1. At the bottom and across, the words:
    • ‘Sydney College of Divinity’
  2. 90mm from the bottom and across, the degree and year of submission, for example:
    • PhD
    • 2017
  3. Evenly spaced between the statement in (2) and the top of the spine, the initials and surname of the author. No other lettering or decoration should appear on the spine.
  4. Where the spine of the thesis is too thin to support lettering across, the wording should be printed along the spine reading from top to bottom.

Candidates eligible to graduate are invited to attend the Sydney College of Divinity graduation ceremony held once a year.

If a candidate chooses not to attend the graduation ceremony, they should advise the Registrar and opt to either collect their graduation documents or have them posted.  Graduation documents are produced after the graduation ceremony has concluded and the candidate will be notified when these are available. For candidates attending the graduation, the Registrar will be the key point of contact.


Academic costume rules must be followed and can be either rented or purchased.


President of the College

A robe and cap similar to those worn by the Chancellor of the University of Oxford.


Vice-President of the College

A robe and cap as approved by the Council.


Fellows of the College

A stole of cherry (062) cloth and satin, bound on both edges with medium blue (299) grosgrain ribbon, and embroidered at the bottom with the College’s emblem.  Colour Reference – Pantone


Doctor of Theology

Gown         a festal gown of scarlet cloth (185c) of the Cambridge pattern with facings of medium blue satin (299c).

Hood         a hood of scarlet cloth (185c) of the Oxford pattern lined with medium blue satin (299c).

Bonnet      a black velvet bonnet with red cord.

Doctor of Philosophy

Gown         a festal gown of scarlet cloth (185c) of the Cambridge pattern with facings of white satin.

Hood          a hood of scarlet cloth (185c) of the Oxford pattern lined with white satin.

Bonnet       a black velvet bonnet with red cord.

Doctor of Ministry

Gown         a festal gown of medium blue cloth (299c) of the Cambridge pattern with facings of scarlet satin (185c).

Hood          a hood of medium blue cloth (299c) of the Oxford pattern lined with scarlet satin (185c).

Bonnet       a black velvet bonnet with blue cord.

Master of Philosophy

Gown         a gown of black cloth similar to that worn by graduates holding the degree of Master of Arts in the University of Cambridge.

Hood         a hood of black silk of the Cambridge pattern lined with satin of the following colours: medium blue (299c) edged with scarlet (185c)

Cap            a black cloth trencher cap.