Thesis with creative works


With approval from your advisory committee your thesis may include a creative work component (alongside a dissertation) to fulfil the requirements of the degree. This is more common in some degrees and disciplines than others.

Both the dissertation and creative work must be passed, and a final version submitted to the University’s digital repository, in order for you to be awarded the degree.


All theses must be presented as a unified whole and address a significant research question.

The creative work may take a variety of forms including:

  • a performance,
  • an exhibition,
  • writing (poetry, fiction, script or other written literary forms),
  • musical composition,
  • design,
  • film,
  • video,
  • e-portfolio or website,
  • multimedia, or
  • other new media technologies and modes of presentation.

If the creative work is not in writing it must be comprehensively documented.     The work itself, or the documentation must be submitted with the dissertation.

The dissertation and documentation of the work  (where needed) must adhere to the Preparation of Graduate Research Theses Rules.  You must include a description of the form and presentation of the creative work in the Abstract and in your Preface, note the relative weighting of the creative work and dissertation.

The combined volume of work of the creative works and dissertation for a doctoral thesis would be equivalent to approximately 80,000 -100,000 words.  For a masters degree, the combined volume of work would be equivalent to approximately 40,000-50,000 words.

Any thesis that exceeds the maximum limit requires permission to proceed to examination, which must be sought via the Graduate Research Examinations Office prior to submission.

Relationship between the Dissertation and Creative Work

The dissertation and the creative work should be considered as complementary, mutually reinforcing parts of a single project.  You may argue, however, that the relationship between the two parts contributes to the originality and creativity of the whole.

The dissertation is required to do more than simply describe the creative work and how it was undertaken.

The dissertation must:

  • present the research questions address, and
  • contextualise the research as new knowledge within the field of its production.

The dissertation may:

  • include information on the materials and methodology used,
  • elucidate the creative work, and
  • place the creative work in an artistic, intellectual, or cultural context.


The weighting given to the components of the thesis describes the proportion of the research which is demonstrated through the creative component/s and the proportion which is demonstrated in the written dissertation. The relative weighting will inform the examiners’ assessment of the work so must be clearly explained in your Preface.

The weighting of the dissertation and creative work, and the expected word length of the dissertation should be agreed at Confirmation. Check the Handbook description for your course to see if the weighting is specified for the course. If not, the minimum weighting for the dissertation that can be agreed at Confirmation is 25%.


Where the creative work includes a performance or exhibition of visual art works, the examiners may be required to travel to the site of the performance or exhibition.  In this situation, if the dissertation is not submitted at or around the same time, you must provide an extended abstract of 1000-3000 words two weeks prior to the viewing. You must then submit your dissertation no more than six calendar months after the performance/exhibition.

Where the creative works is a live website, there should be no alterations made to the website while the examination is in progress.  As the examiners’ confidentiality must be maintained during the examination, you will need to ensure that you are unable to view or identify your examiners. To meet the University's digital repository (Minerva Access) requirements, once examiner comments and amendments have been incorporated you will need to deposit an archived copy of the website as it was during the examination with any amendments requested by the examiners and a link to the live website.  You can request technical assistance for submitting the thesis to Minerva Access.

As graduate researchers submitting creative works in the form of a performance, an exhibition, an e-portfolio, or a website, have an obligation to avoid identifying their examiners, the following Creative Works: Examiner Confidentiality Declaration form should be completed and submitted along with your thesis.

Additional criteria are specified for examiners who are examining creative works.