Is your thesis good enough? Examination and the PhD

Please note that this course is finished for the moment, but you can still read the blog posts and undertake the activities. Please feel welcome to add your comments to the posts and join the ongoing conversation.


How do you know if your thesis is good enough to be worth a PhD? It’s important to know what you are trying to write and how it will be read by your external examiners. The September Pomodoro Break will identify what examiners expect to see in your thesis (whether it is presented as a conventional monograph, by compilation, or by creative practice) and how you can make it easy for them to understand that you meet the requirements for the degree.

In this Pomodoro Break course you will:

  • Identify the criteria for examination
  • Understand examiners’ expectations
  • Provide what examiners need to navigate your work

The course will run over a week, starting with a Zoom coffee meeting on Monday 14 Sept. Then we’ll send you a link each day to a short blog post that provides some stimulating reading, links to relevant material, provocative questions and useful activities. All up, the reading and responding will take around 30 minutes each day – just enough time to drink your coffee. Finally, we’ll reconvene in Zoom on Friday afternoon to debrief and resolve any remaining questions.

To register, please provide your details here.

For more information and any questions, contact Cally Guerin.

Day 1: Is your thesis good enough? Examination and the PhD

Welcome to the first post for our new mini-course, ‘Is your thesis good enough?’. This Pomodoro Break is designed to give you short, targeted information while you are having a coffee break. Each day this week we will explore topics related to the final document you submit for examination, your thesis. If you didn’t get […]


Day 2: Is your thesis big enough? Examination and the PhD

As we saw yesterday, the criteria for what constitutes a PhD at ANU is actually pretty vague, especially when compared with the assessment criteria or rubrics you may be accustomed to in undergraduate or coursework Masters degrees. The examination criteria that a PhD must make a ‘substantial contribution’ to the field is not very helpful. […]


Day 3: Is your thesis story clear enough? Examination and the PhD

Story in the Table of Contents One of the first things an examiner will read (after they’ve seen your abstract and made the decision to take on the task of examining your thesis) is the Table of Contents. This is an important tool to help them navigate your work and see how the overall project […]


Day 4: Is your thesis original enough? Examination and the PhD

A key criterion for awarding the PhD is that the work is ‘original’. But what exactly does this mean? Presumably your TRP (or other process confirming that your project is suitable for the degree) included an assessment of whether your project was likely to meet the examination criteria. For many HDRs, though, this is never […]


Day 5: Are your beginning and ending close enough? Examination and the PhD

The Introduction and Conclusion that bracket your thesis need to match closely. These sections play a key role in unifying the project (this becomes even more important if you are writing a thesis by compilation – these are the crucial moments in which to demonstrate that your PhD is one big project, not a series […]