Thesis Writing Rules, Guidelines, and Format


  • Observe the rules of correct English grammar and spelling, and use a writing style that is simple, direct and dignified. Slang, contractions and very informal usage are inappropriate. Surround all quotations in quotation marks, and reference their correct sources. Indent and single-space quotations. Avoid long direct quotations. 
  • Use abbreviations sparingly, and explain each abbreviation completely the first time it appears.
  • Cite the source of any paraphrased information or ideas to avoid any possible grounds for a charge of plagiarism.
  • The Thesis report should be typewritten in either Times New Roman, Arial, a maximum of font size 12, and single-spaced.
  • A minimum of 10,000 WORDS is required and the report must be completed and corrected WITHIN the semester for which the student is registered, i.e. final semester.
  • The annexes, table of contents, appendices, figures, bibliography, and tables etc. are not included in the 10,000 WORDS.
  • The presentation must last about 30 minutes with an additional 30 minutes scheduled for questions from :
    • the supervisor (Bachelor Students)
    • from the supervisor and an academic responsible (Master students)
    • from a jury composed of the supervisor, an academic responsible and other invited external academic members (Doctoral students)
  • An appropriate supervisor will be appointed to work with the student as they do the work required to successfully complete the Thesis.
  • Students have three options in terms of approaches they can take for the completion of the Bachelor Thesis:
  • Option A – A thesis, based on a piece of original research that explores a significant business question or issue.
    • Option B – A thesis that involves the creation of a viable business plan, with an idea and framework for the development of a business, using market research and other appropriate business development tools.
    • Option C – A thesis that aims to solve a particular problem based in a particular industry, company or context and is written in the style of a management report.

Declaration of Authorship

 “I hereby declare:

  • That I have written this work on my own without other people’s help (copy-editing, translation, etc.) and without the use of any aids other than those indicated;
  • That I have mentioned all the sources used and quoted them correctly in accordance with academic quotation rules;
  • That the topic or parts of it are not already the object of any work or examination of another course unless this has been explicitly agreed on with the faculty member in advance;
  • That my work may be scanned in and electronically checked for plagiarism.”




Acknowledgements (if any)

In the acknowledgement of an XXXXX Thesis, we thank all the people who helped our research. For example:

“First of all I thank xxx, for xxx throughout my research period.”





Table of Content

Declaration of Authorship                                                                                           3

Acknowledgements (if any)                                                                                           4

Table of Content                                                                                                            5

Abstract                                                                                                                             6

Chapter 1:  Introduction                                                                                                7

Chapter 2:  Summary of Literature Review                                                                 8

Chapter 3:  Body of Thesis                                                                                              9

Chapter 4:  Findings                                                                                                        10

Chapter 5:  Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations                                    11

References                                                                                                                      12

Appendices                                                                                                                       13


Your summary should be no more than 500 words. It should briefly:

  • Say what you have investigated,
  • Say why it is important,
  • Summarize your main findings.

Make sure that you are clear at this stage about which of the 3 available approaches you are pursuing in your work:


●       Original research

●       Business plan

●       Management report

Chapter 1:  Introduction

Justify why your topic area is worth investigating in the first place; outline the main issues and summaries the contents of the chapters which are to follow, explaining the rationale of their content. By the time the reader gets to the end of the introduction, they should have a clear idea of what the study is all about, why it is relevant, and what to expect in the ensuing chapters.

This section should be around 1000 words. Be very clear about which of the three  approaches you are planning to pursue: original research, business plan or management report.  Please note that all three approaches involve the need to do original research.

Chapter 2:  Summary of Literature Review

The literature review establishes that the research is rigorously and comprehensively grounded, and is based on a body of existing published information, theoretical and empirical, relevant to the study.  The literature review:

  • Should demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the field and an awareness of important substantive and methodological developments related to the field.
  • Must use primary sourcesin addition to relevant secondary sources; must be critical, not merely descriptive; and must bring together the various strands of understanding and thinking in a meaningful and relevant way and not simply repeat what is already in the literature.

Organize the literature review around a set of ideas relevant to the issue you are exploring.  Headings and subheadings should be used that relate to the areas of study:

  • Identify the gaps or shortcomings in the current knowledge that justify the research.  Identifying what is missing in the literature is just as important as what is already there.
  • Summarize the body of existing knowledge and articulate how that knowledge provides an intellectual basis for the research. 
  • Conclude the literature review with a summary of how the research is grounded in existing knowledge, flows from that knowledge, and will extend that knowledge.  The literature review should cover topics related to all research questions, which means your main question and any subsidiary questions related to it.

Students who are writing a thesis based on original research (Option A) should ensure that their literature review is drawn from current sources, ideally within the last 5 years, and that their research plan and methodology follows the standards set in the literature included in the review.

Students who are writing a thesis based on the development of a business plan (Option B) should ensure that the literature review relates to the wider context or industry in which the proposed business will be located.  This will involve the student in conducting some original research to explore whether not and/or to what extent the new business will be viable.

Students who are writing the management report thesis (Option C) should ensure that the literature review explores current thinking on the management problem being explored and should include original research that clarifies the problem itself and explores the viability of different potential solutions.

This section should be around 2500 words:

  • Theoretical Studies:  1250 words
  • Empirical Studies:  1250 words

Chapter 3:  Body of Thesis

The body of thesis section for those writing an thesis based fully on original research (Option A) describes the investigation in sufficient detail to assess the research process and, ideally, to replicate it. 

Students who are writing a business plan thesis (Option B) will present the business plan at this point, based on the findings of the literature review section and the original research undertaken.

Students who are writing a management report (Option C) will explore the problem(s) they are trying to solve and the results of the original research they undertook to clarify the problem(s) and find potential solutions.

Firstly, you need to describe the current, existing situation in which you find your topic and lay out explicit outlines that inform the research process. 

To begin with, you need to elaborate how you have implemented your research strategy and research setting in relation to the current situation. 

You should also need to reason why your chosen strategy is suitable for your particular thesis and the relevance of data collection methods and the sources used.  Your writing here will be subject to your choice of approach from the 3 options available.

Remember this is a small-scale study, designed to demonstrate your mastery of identifying a question or problem and systematically using established scientific research and other appropriate techniques to answer the question or solve the problem.

Secondly, you need to present your own model for the original research.  In this section you should start with the simplest model you can think of.  You can complicate things later if you need to, for example, if you find that you cannot make any of the predictions you would like to test.  Remember that the research you undertake, must be relevant to your topic and answer the questions you are exploring.

Thirdly, you need to present your own data, sources, and modifications.  You should simply describe the name and sources of the data you are using and the period it covers.  For example, how you got the data and are they primary or secondary sources?  Describe whether you have a panel, cross section or time series, what the unit of observation is and how many observations you have.  Discuss limitations of the data such as missing variables, missing observations, survey response, small number of observations, etc.

This section should be around 4500 words.

Chapter 4:  Findings

The findings section presents the outcomes of the research.  Develop a strategy for presenting the results; often this can be accomplished by responding to each research question.

Summarize the findings in the text, to connect the words and data and to the questions being researched. Discuss any evident patterns or relationships that emerge, and any surprises or anomalies in the data. 

Place complete results, such as extensive data tables, at the end of the section or in an appendix, particularly if the volume of this information interrupts the flow of the text.  Develop the findings from the data; however, reserve the interpretations of the data for the next chapter.

The format appropriate for reporting research findings differ, according to the research design used and whether you are doing and the thesis style option you have chosen.

This section should be around 1000 words.

Chapter 5:  Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations

The final chapter places the research findings in context. 

For studies based fully on original research, students should interpret and summarize the results with regard to the objectives and the intentions of the research.  Contrast and compare the findings with those of previous research and literature considered earlier in the thesis, and seek reasons to explain the similarities or differences.  This summary leads to the conclusions for the study, which flow from and are consistent with the interpretation of the findings.

For a business plan thesis, students should offer conclusions and recommendations that follow the development of the plan itself.  The focus here should be on implementation of the plan and key points to consider for the development of the business to ensure or enhance its viability.

For a management report thesis, students should reflect on the question or problem that drove the investigation, what the literature had to say about it, what their original research offers and then offer a series of conclusions and recommendations for the way forward.

Based upon the conclusions, formulate the recommendations. The recommendations may appear as a list beginning with the principal points and addressing policy and practice, as appropriate. 

This section should be around 1000 words.


Poor referencing will be marked down; hence you should give full details of all books, articles, reports, etc., cited as references in your study.

The reference list includes all those materials cited in the thesis and should also include any published source of information that was consulted during the process of thesis completion.  The APA (American Psychological Association) format is required.


The appendices include information needed to comprehend, support, and evaluate the thesis.  Information is placed in the appendices because it is a distraction to the narrative flow of the text.

These should only include material that has been referred to in the study, but which for reasons of style you do not wish to include in the main body of your work. Raw data, reference tables, regulations, copy questionnaires, list of interviewees etc. should all be in an appendix. This material should support the main findings. If it is not referenced in the body then it should not be treated as merely an opportunity to add an impressive thickness to your study in an attempt to compensate for lack of authentic depth in the text!!

Helpful resources

Here are some helpful resources that you can consult to help clarify some of the key steps in writing a thesis.

Rowley, J., & Slack, F. (2004). Conducting a literature review. Management Research News, 27(6), 31-39.

Literature Reviews

Remember also that you can access the GBS online library via your extranet account.  Remember also to consult your supervisor regularly.  Their job is to keep you on track to help ensure a positive outcome for you.

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