1 people are online

Postgraduate Zone

So, you want to research and write a thesis?

Congratulations on embarking on such a rewarding course of research study! Before you begin, there are a few things we'd like you to know, that we think will help you avoid a lot of the frustrations that other students have gone through in the past. The information on this page covers researching, writing, formatting, and submitting your research thesis.

The research information will be helpful to all students as you progress through your degree; however, undergraduates and those undertaking masters-level taught papers should use the assignment template (available from the law student homepage) for research essays.

To begin with, here are links to the relevant University of Waikato policy documents, which you should all become familiar with. In particular, be sure to review the Assessment Regulations, as these set out the requirements for your thesis.

University policy documents

Assessment Regulations 2005

Student Discipline Regulations 2012

Student Research Regulations 2008

Writing Your Thesis

Another useful guide to become familiar with is the Library's Guide to Writing and Submitting a Thesis. This guide covers:
* Preparing and Researching your Thesis
* Copyright Compliance
* Presentation Requirements for your Thesis
* Thesis Submission.

We urge you to familiarise yourself with this information about the submission process. While your initial focus will be on your substantive research and on identifying useful information to progress this,it is important to keep in mind that the end goal is a research thesis that (1) makes a substantive and original contribution to your field of scholarship and (2) complies with the University regulations!

Other Library Guides may also be of assistance, so we encourage you to consult these if you are uncertain about aspects of your research. Of particular interest is the Guide to Writing a Literature Review


Databases are constantly being updated with new scholarship. Over the years of your research, the last thing you want to be worrying about is whether you've exhaustively researched the databases ad whether anything new has been added that you do not know about!

One of the most efficient ways for you to be appraised of relevant new material is to set up an RSS Feed

This video shows how to use the Alert function in law databases so that the latest information comes to you without you having to go and find it.

We've also put together a video with our best tips for post-graduate study, which we recommend you have a look at.

Thesis writing

Writing a thesis is one of the most rewarding - and frustrating! - things you can do with a Word document. The end product will be a beautifully formatted PDF document that clearly sets out your research and findings, but what you do not see is the document-wrangling that is often needed to get you to that point!

Thesis Template Documents

We would love to help you avoid the common problems we see students having when working with long documents. To that end, we have set up a template for you to use to put your thesis together, which complies with the University Regulations. We recommend that you write your document in plain text before transferring it over to the template or, alternatively, use the chapter template for each chapter, and then come and see us to help you turn it into a unified document.

Download the templates from the Word images. They will open in Word 97-2003 version, so save them to the version you have on your computer.

  • Thesis title page template [updated May 2014]
  • Chapter template [updated May 2014]
  • Full thesis template [updated May 2014]
    - includes preliminary, chapter and final pages.

Guide to Working with Long Documents

Despite the growing popularity of open-source software solutions, we recommend that you use Microsoft Word to format your thesis. We have put together a guide for using Word, which covers most of the things you will want to do when writing your thesis. It includes information about the University's of Waikato requirements for layout and formatting.

We have also put together a powerpoint in which you'll learn about some features of Word. There is also a list of frequently used shortcut keys, and a reminder about avoiding plagiarism.

Referencing software

Managing and organizing all your references can be an onerous task. However if you use bibliographic management software you can easily search through your collection and locate individual references that match what you need. The software may also format your footnotes for you though the degree of success will vary depending on which option you use. Some sort of reference management tool is a real must for those undertaking serious research such as a thesis or dissertation. The two options are Endnote and Juris-M however, we do not recommend using Endnote, as it does not work well with the New Zealand Law Style Guide. Juris-M has traditionally worked better for the Law Stule guide as it's a piece of software based on Zotero which is designed specificaly to handle legal and multi-lingual references. The NZ Law style is in the midst of being updated bu we hope that once this occurs it will once again be more or less complaiant with the style guide.

Māori Macron Restoration Service

Are your macrons on the move? Here's the solution. The Māori Macron Restoration Service is a free service developed at our own University of Waikato. It automatically inserts macrons where appropriate. Type in individual words or sentences requiring macrons, click Add Macrons, then cut and paste the word/sentence into your document. Single words are better than sentences though, as you will have to check a sentence in case random macrons have been inserted.

There's also an option for uploading an entire Word document (compatibility is Word 2010 and lower, plus Open Office), but this isn't recommended as it inserts macrons into words that do and don't need them!

Other Useful Resources

Our page on Theses and Dissertations sets out some other useful background resources for assisting you with writing a thesis
From your undergraduate study, you will also be familiar with our pages on Legal Writing and the New Zealand Law Style Guide

Research Commons

Theses are deposited at the University of Waikato's Research Commons.

You can search the research commons to find a thesis, which will allow you to see prior scholarship in your field of study a well as get a feel for what a published thesis looks like and how past scholars have addressed questions such as methodology. Scanning the tables of contents of other theses can help you shape your thoughts about structure, formatting, style and scope, as well as shaping your substantive research.

And finally... Top 25 Tips for PhD students