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Theses: Info. for Supervisors

Information about theses at Southampton: thesis templates, guidance on e-theses, how to find theses

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It is recommended that supervisors should discuss the 'Permission to Deposit Thesis' form with their students when they are about to complete their Intention to submit research thesis form.  This will assist the student in preparing for the final submission of their thesis once awarded.  Where this is not possible, conversations should take place around the time of the viva voce. There are a number of issues that it will be useful for you to discuss with your students:

  • Copyright
  • Embargoes
  • Associated research data/research notes
  • Format

Helping you help your student

The copyright of the thesis lies with the student. Howver most theses contain material which was not originally created by the student, that is third-party copyright material.

Traditionally it has been accepted that third party copyright is not an issue with print theses, although it would be good practice to clear copyright of this material. e-theses, on the other hand, are subject to copyright law.

Your student should clear copyright for any images, graphs, diagrams, long extracts of text etc, they include in their thesis. This can include material they have already published where they have assigned copyright to the publisher.

They should not have to pay and they should not compromise the academic integrity of their thesis because they cannot get copyright clearance. If copyright cannot be cleared then the material should be removed to a restricted appendix or, if this makes a nonsense of the text, the whole the e-thesis can be embargoed.

Guidance on dealing with third-party copyright material is available from the Library.

University of Southampton Regulations state that embargos should not normally last more than three years.  UKRI expectations are that theses they fund are open as early as possible.  UKRI state that "“… a full text version should be available within a maximum of 12 months following award.” (Research Councils UK (2018) Terms and conditions of Research Council Training Grants TGC 15 p.22)

Unless there are good reasons (academic, legal or commercial) a thesis should be made available as soon as possible after confirmation of the award.

It is possible to embargo just the e-theses or both the print and e- versions.

It is possible to embargo separate appendices to the e-thesis rather than the whole thesis (this is preferable for sensitive or uncleared copyright material).

Theses can only be embargoed for the reasons outlined on the embargo page.

Embargos are agreed by the student and the supervisor who both must fill in and sign the ‘Permission to Deposit Thesis' form and countersigned by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. 

Embargoes of longer than three years or extensions to embargoes to take them beyond three years must be approved by the Director of the Doctoral College.

The thesis will be made publicly available at the end of the restricted period. The candidate is responsible for contacting the University if there are any extenuating circumstances which warrant an extension to the original restriction. Where there are commercial constraints, such as patent pending, it is essential that contact information is provided to enable the correct process at the expiry of any embargo.

Once a thesis has been publicly released, it is not possible to apply an embargo.

Embargoed e-theses will be unavailable for inter-library loan to other scholars during the period of restriction.

Abstracts are not included under embargoes. Please check if the abstract contains material which should not be released. If it does, ask the student to provide a publicly safe version of the abstract for inclusion in ePrints.

All researchers, including postgraduate research students, are required to follow the University Research Data Management Policy with regard to the deposit of research data. They can deposit any associated research data and research materials in PURE. Supervisors and students will need to agree this and sign it off on the 'Permission to Deposit Form'. Note: Restrictions on access to research data, where required, should be appropriate to the data. For the avoidance of doubt, section 51 Regulations for Research Degrees concerning embargo length does not apply.

See the Research Data Management and the Data Plan for your PhD pages for more information on the University's research data policies and a link to Southampton's PhD DMP template. All postgraduate research students are automatically enrolled on Data Management Plans for Doctoral Students Blackboard course.

A DOI for the data can be provided on request to enable citation.  Where appropriate, research data can be included in the list of accompanying material.

Please see our data deposit videos at

The video Introduction for Supervisors to the Data Management Plan for Doctoral Students is availble to walk you through the process.

There is also a guidance document

E-theses don't have to be the same as print thesis under current University Regulations.  So an e-thesis could have commercially sensitive or third-party copyright material moved to a separate appendix or multimedia (e.g. 3-d structural models) could be included at appropriate places in the text.

If it is possible to remove sensitive or uncleared copyright material to an appendix without detriment to the thesis, this is preferable to restricting access to the thesis. The appendix can be embargoed separately from the main body of the research which can be made publicly available.

We during the panademic, students must deposit two versions of the thesis is they have had to redact material from the body of the thesis so the University has a complete copy for archival purposes.  See the Covid-19 thesis instructions for more information.

The sooner a student starts preparing for the e-theses the better. Ideally this should be done from the start of the PhD process rather than waiting until the intention to submit stage. Both Word and LateX templates following the guidelines for a University of Southampton thesis are available.

We recommend that if the student still wishes to publish from the thesis, the e-thesis is embargoed unless they know that the publisher is happy for the e-thesis to be available (some publishers object to the thesis being so publicly available pre-publication, others , e.g. Elsevier, have stated that they do not consider an e-thesis to be a prior-publication).

You should advise students that it is possible to add bibliographic information for the articles and books published from a thesis to the ePrints record. Authors wanting to add extra information to their thesis record should contact the ePrints team, email:

Embargoes cannot be set for more than three years without permission from the Director of the Doctoral College, Extensions over three years for publication pending will require evidence that a publication is in process.

Electronic theses offer a number of advantages.

For students the electronic availability of their theses considerably increases access and visibility. Usage statistics for existing thesis repositories demonstrate a high level of interest in accessing theses online and a wide range of users not limited to education but also including governmental, commercial and voluntary sectors. The statistics also show a high level of international use that was not possible when theses were limited to print and microfilm formats. In addition, students have the chance to make full use of the opportunities offered in the digital world, e.g. multimedia, links to datasets etc., should they wish to take advantage of this.

For the University, the online availability of electronic theses will permit worldwide exposure of the quality of postgraduate research being carried out at Southampton. Studies show that prospective students are likely to explore the websites of potential places of study, and are particularly keen to be able to see what work is currently being carried out.

Southampton was one of the first universities in the UK to mandate electronic deposit of theses.

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have agreed that: 

"In the case of Ph.D. theses funded by Research Councils, metadata describing the thesis should be lodged in the institution's repository as soon as possible after award and a fulltext version should be available within a maximum of 12 months following award. It is expected that metadata in institutional repositories will be compatible with the metadata core set recommended by the ETHOS e-thesis online service." (UKRI Doctoral Training Grant Terms & Conditions, p23)