skip to content

Department of Social Anthropology


Style guidelines for the presentation and layout of MRes dissertations and essays.

Word limit

The word limit for the MRes dissertation is not more than 15,000 words in length (including footnotes, but excluding tables, appendices, and bibliography).

The word limit for the assessed essays is not more than 4,000 words in length (excluding footnotes, tables, appendices, and bibliography).

Cover page

The cover page must contain the title of the work with your full name underneath. Near the bottom of the page the following statement should appear:

'“Essay”/”Dissertation” submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the MRes Degree in Social Anthropology’ together with a statement of the number of words (see above).

In addition, the following declaration must be written at the start of the thesis (in accordance with the General Regulations for the MRes Degree [one-year course]):

" declare that this thesis is substantially my own work. Where reference is made to the works of others the extent to which that work has been used is indicated and duly acknowledged in the text and bibliography".


Dissertations should be divided into sections or chapters with titles to indicate content. Tables and maps important for the development of the argument should be presented within the main body of the text. The location of chapters/ sections, tables and maps should be indicated by a table of contents (including page numbers) at the front of the dissertation.

Footnotes can appear either at the end of the work or at the bottom of each page, and should preferably be few in number and short in length. 

References and bibliography

References and bibliography should follow the Harvard/ author-date system used in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and American Ethnologist, with author’s surname, date of publication and page number

For example, in the body of the dissertation:

  • Single author’s quotation/ idea referred to: (Bayly 1993: 208);

  • Two authors, more than one page: (Humphrey and Hugh-Jones 1991: 124-6);

  • Several authors: (Goody et al 1987: 25);

  • Citation of another author’s work in secondary text: (Laidlaw 1996 cited in Lewis 1998: 45). 

In the bibliography:

  • Single author: Malinowski, B. 1922 Argonauts of the Western Pacific. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul; title of book in italic OR underline.
  • Two authors/ chapter in book: Johnson M. & Margolin, P. 1990 ‘Children at risk’ in The problems of children in the on the streets of Brazil J Butterfield (ed) Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall;
Title of article in quote marks;
Title of book in italic OR underline.
  • Journal article: Simpson, B. 1994 ‘Bringing the ‘unclear’ family into focus: divorce and re-marriage in contemporary Britain’ Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 29: 831-851;
Title of article in quotation marks;
Title of book in italics OR underline.

Dissertations and essays should include a full set of references. This means that works not cited in the text should not appear in the bibliography.


All quotations should be fully referenced (see also plagiarism below) and all references should be included in the bibliography. Short quotations should be incorporated in the main text with quotation marks; longer quotations (more than four lines) should be indented. It is imperative that any and all quotations taken from the work of other people are fully acknowledged in the text and the work listed in the bibliography. It is equally important to acknowledge the provenance of ideas and material that you use and paraphrase in your dissertation.


  • The minimum font size for text is 12pt and 10pt for footnotes. 
  • The font should be Times New Roman.
  • Margins should be 1 inch/ 2.5 cm all round (after allowing for binding).
  • Chapters always begin on a new page.
  • Paragraphs should be indented three spaces, except for the first paragraph of each new section which should be flush with the left-hand margin.
  • Section headings must be clearly indicated.
  • Essays should use single spacing, with an extra line between paragraphs. Line spacing for dissertations may be either one-and-a-half or double.
  • All figures, tables, illustrations, etc should be clearly numbered and listed in the table of contents.


Plagiarism is the deliberate attempt to present the ideas or work of another person as your own. Examples include students who copy short passages into their essays without references to indicate that the material is a quotation, and senior academics who fail to acknowledge the real source of important ideas and insights in their work. It may also involve the use of work obtained from other students.

The Department of Social Anthropology and University view all kinds of plagiarism as a serious attack on standards of academic behaviour. Students necessarily work with the ideas of other people and must therefore ensure that they make proper use of references and citations. This will ensure that there is no danger that any of their work might be construed as a deliberate attempt to deceive the reader into believing that borrowed or copied ideas or passages are the original work of the student. Unmistakable evidence of plagiarism will be reported to the appropriate disciplinary authorities in the University. 

See also: ‘Copyright and plagiarism


Before submission, spell check your text, then proof read a printed version of your thesis/ essay (not on screen), paying close attention to spelling, typographical errors, repetitions and such like. It is also a good idea to arrange for someone else to check it for errors and for clarity of exposition. A few samples of previous MPhil dissertations are available in the Haddon Library to show examples of style and layout.

There are many more issues that could be included (punctuation, numerals, dates, foreign words, capitals etc). It is best to consult your supervisor for advice on these matters if you are uncertain.