Scope of UBC Theses and Dissertations


A dissertation is expected to represent a significant contribution of new knowledge achieved through systematic investigation. It conveys the scholarly context, methods, results and an analysis of your original scholarship. It is expected to represent an original contribution to new understanding, either through the uncovering or creation of knowledge or understanding, through the integration and synthesis of knowledge across perspectives or fields, and/or through the application of knowledge to address tangible problems. It is intended to demonstrate your ability to:

  • Critically analyze the relevant literature and background
  • Use and describe in detail the appropriate methodology for the scholarly work undertaken
  • Conduct research and present findings that result in a significant and original contribution to knowledge
  • Verify knowledge claims and sources meticulously
  • Locate the work of the dissertation and its findings within the broader field or discipline
  • Communicate the scholarly work and analysis effectively

The dissertation must provide a complete account of your scholarly work. Specific products or modes of sharing your research results may also be included as demonstration of effective knowledge communication and dissemination. It may incorporate collaborative work, with a clear indication of the relative contributions of collaborators (see guidelines). Scholarly products and/or dissemination materials could include journal articles, audio/visual products, creative outputs, policy briefs, web tools, or lay or professional reports. The main body may be presented in a variety of styles. For substantive scholarly products or modes of expression, as appropriate, you should provide contextualization, a description of the methodologies used, and an analysis of the work within the overall scholarly arc of the dissertation. Refer to Structure of a Doctoral Dissertation for further information.

Scope of a Master's Thesis

Master’s theses at UBC will vary considerably in scope depending on the credit value assigned to the thesis. A master's thesis is intended to demonstrate that you know the background and principal works of your research area, and can produce significant scholarly work. It should contain some original contribution whenever possible.