Oxford Thesis Template   48 comments

titlepageAs anyone who has written a thesis will tell you: Like it or not, at some point in the writing process, you will spend far too much time tweaking a minor formatting issue. Thankfully, typesetting tools like LaTeX can minimize this headache by providing consistent, structured formatting.

LaTeX and similar tools follow a “what you see is what you mean” model, unlike Microsoft Word, which is “what you see is what you get”. When you’re starting a new section in a LaTeX document, you don’t click bold and increase the font size. Instead, you type \section, and the engine automatically assigns a section number and format, updates the table of contents, and even adds within-document links. This all sounds complicated, but if you’ve written HTML, you know the idea. (Word power-users will reply that Word has similar tricks up its sleeve. This is true, but LaTeX explicitly separates text from layout, preventing a lot of the “gremlins” that creep into Word documents.)

Of course, this paradigm creates a significant disconnect between the text you type and the beautiful PDF document that results. This is where a good template comes in. It defines everything from how the title page is laid out to what the page header looks like in the bibliography. For a LaTeX user (and anyone writing a document as long as a thesis should be), a good template is everything. I was lucky enough to find a template that Sam Evans adapted for social sciences use based on the original maths template by Keith Gillow. I wound up making my own modifications, and re-packaged the template for posterity.

Download the Oxford thesis template here.

If you prefer, you can also view on GitHub.

Some of the features of this template are:

Fantastic chapter pages. The template retains Sam Evans’s use of the quotchap and minitoc packages to (optionally) include an epigraph and brief table of contents at the beginning of each chapter. I found this a great way to inject a bit of personality into the thesis (via the epigraph) and ensure that my reader wasn’t getting lost (table of contents). My modifications cleaned up some of the spacing, ensuring single-spaced tables and slightly more compact chapter headings.

Table of Contents refinements. Careful attention was paid to spacing and page headings in the table of contents as well as other heading sections. This can get tricky in documents using lots of packages. This template also inserts an “Appendices” page (and ToC entry) between chapters and appendices.

Table of abbreviations. Many science and engineering theses use lots of abbreviations. Humanities and social sciences theses often need glossaries. While there are some dedicated LaTeX classes that meet these needs in complex cases, I decided to create a simple list environment to handle the routine cases.

Highlighted corrections. Most Oxford theses go through a round of corrections, as time-honored a tradition as the viva itself. Minor corrections generally just involve sending a PDF of your revised thesis to your internal examiner. (Major corrections often require a more exacting process.) This class allows you to designate text (or figures, etc) as a correction. You can then toggle between generating a document in which these corrections are highlighted in blue (ideal for sending to your examiner for a quick read-through) and just printing them without any adornment (for generating your final copy).

Page layout, draft, and spacing options. In a few keystrokes, you can switch between a double-spaced, single-sided, binding-margin document (ideal for submission), a 1.5-spaced, double-sided document (for your parents’ copy), or a version with equal left and right margins (for submitting as a PDF). An optional draft notice (with date) can be included in the footer — just remember to turn it off before submitting!

Master’s thesis title page. Some masters’ degrees require title pages with a candidate number and word count rather than a name and college, to ensure anonymity for the examinees. They also require a statement of authenticity / originality on the title page. This template has a quick option to switch to this master’s submission format. And, just as importantly, it can be turned off when you want to print a version for yourself.

Posted 12 Jul 2015 by John McManigle in Technical

48 responses to Oxford Thesis Template

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  1. Thanks very much to you and Sam Evans for developing this! I’m hoping to use it (or a slightly modified version) for my MSc thesis this year.

    Laura Lamont
  2. Thanks very much for this. it’s amazing. I am trying to change the titles of the chapters though to align left rather than right..how do I do that? I have been trying all day!

    • Hi Anne, So unfortunately left-aligning chapter titles isn’t an option that the quotchap package (which my class uses to format chapter titles) contains by default. Which doesn’t mean what you’re asking for is impossible, just that it’s a little clumsy.

      Probably the easiest way is to insert the following block of code in Oxford_Thesis.tex just above the line that says %%%%% THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT STARTS HERE (ie on line 97).

      This should redefine the chapter-heading command to move both the grey number and the chapter title to the left side of the page. Hope it helps!

      John McManigle
  3. Hi John,

    Thanks very much for this. With a bit of a clumsier tweak from me the script did exactly what I wanted as I also needed the “Chapter” word before the number.

  4. Pingback: Structure your thesis – thesismathblog

  5. It is the most beautiful template which I have referred. But I would like to use “Chapter 1” instead of only number. HOW can I do, please? I am the beginner in Latex

    • Hi Le, Probably the easiest way is to insert the following block of code in Oxford_Thesis.tex just above the line that says %%%%% THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT STARTS HERE (ie on line 97).

      John McManigle
  6. Hi John, great code! I’m having difficulty changing the position of the page numbers. I would like for the number to always be at the bottom centre of the page…
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Sandra, So sorry for the delay in responding! Add the following lines to Oxford_Thesis.tex just before THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT STARTS HERE (ie line 97):

      John McManigle
  7. Hi John, thanks a lot! Well, the only problem for me is that my computer doesn’t seem to be able to find the figures/beltcrest.pdf file, so it’s always an empty square where the logo is supposed to be inserted..

    • Interesting… Is the figures/beltcrest.pdf file in the directory with the rest of your thesis? If you just download the thesis file, unzip it, and compile it, does the logo appear? I’m afraid this is one of those problems that’s probably specific to how the files are laid out on your computer, so you might be better off bribing a technically-minded friend to figure it out. I can’t debug it well without being at your computer…

      John McManigle
  8. Hi John, thank you for sharing this brilliant template, I’ll be using it for my MSc dissertation. I have removed the quote and want the Section header i.e ‘Chapter 1’ to start where the quote started instead of mid page, can you assist ?

    William Sereki
    • Hi William, Apologies for the late reply! There are no doubt more “correct” answers to this question in terms of modifying the chapter headings entirely, but the simplest answer to your question is to insert the following line:

      into Oxford_Thesis.tex just above the line that reads THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT STARTS HERE (ie on line 97 in the template version). You can adjust the “-80pt” to your heart’s content. For your reference, setting it to (+) 40pt will match how the template already is. Setting it to 0 will leave a generous top margin that you might find looks appropriate even without a quote. But do play with it!

      John McManigle
  9. Hello John, thanks for the template.
    How do I add my bibtex database i.e the reference list to my document?

    • I’m afraid there are so many different ways to configure BibTeX and other reference managers for LaTeX that I’m not able to provide help on any in particular. It also tends to involve pretty individual help depending on your setup. This template should work with whatever your preferred LaTeX referencing setup is, so I suggest getting in-person help from someone at your uni who has done it before.

      John McManigle
  10. Hi John,

    I was wondering how I could decrease the upper margin of the title page so that there is more space for additional subtitles below. Thank you for the amazing template!

    • Apologies for the late reply! Assuming you are writing a DPhil thesis, add a line to ociamthesis.cls after line 217 (\begin{center}) that adds a negative vertical space. Try: \vspace*{-3cm} That section of the file would then look like:

      If you are writing a master’s thesis, you should instead change line 201 (\vspace*{-3ex}) to have a larger space. Try -3cm.

      John McManigle
  11. Hi, thanks so much for publishing this!

    I can’t figure some things out, though:
    1. I was wondering is there a way for the examples not to start from 1 with the beginning of every chapter? This seems to be happening because of the chapters being in their separate .tex files.
    2. There seems to be something weird happening with some of the formatting when I have a figure, a table or a big example. The text gets spread out. The LaTeX community online suggests adding \raggedbottom to the preamble but it does not seem to work. Any suggestions?


    • 1. I didn’t use Examples myself; can you show me what your command is to start an example? That will help me answer this question.

      2. Yes, raggedbottom will fix this, at the expense of not having the bottoms of your pages line up neatly. Instead of adding it to the preamble, change line 193 of Oxford_Thesis.tex (just before chapters are included) from \flushbottom to \raggedbottom

      John McManigle
      • Dear John, thanks so much for your answer.

        It’s a linguistics thesis so I’m using \ex. and \exg.

  12. Hi, thanks for the template. I am using the original maths template.

    Can you please help me to figure out to add a Glossary and a List of Publications in the preamble before ending the Roman pages?


    • Hi Rahman, I’m afraid that providing individual help for someone working with a different template is something the hospital keeps me too busy to do. I would suggest that looking at the relevant code in my template (specifically the text/abbreviations.tex file and lines 354 to 368 of ociamthesis.cls), which will hopefully set you on the right track!

      John McManigle
  13. Hello there,
    Just wanted to know what the font style was called for your thesis?


    Francesca Reed

  15. Hi John,

    Thank you for the great template. I guess the font size that is used is 12. How can I change it? I tried to pass the parameter to \documentclass as follows: \documentclass[a4paper,twoside,12pt]{ociamthesis} but it does not seem to be working.


    Salah Eddine Saidi
  16. I am a bit confused as google returned to me another file with the same name first. https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/members/it/faqs/latex/thesis-class

    Why is the same material distributed at different places, with different versions and a clear copyright and license note? As there is no copyright and license, people in most jurisdictions are not allowed to make any changes to ociamthesis.cls.

    Johannes Böttcher
    • Hi Johannes,

      You are of course absolutely right; without a clear license it is very difficult to confidently make and distribute changes. I have had personal communication with Keith Gillow (author of the original maths template) who said “From my perspective you are very welcome to use and adjust this as the others have done before you, and also feel free to put it on github etc.” and Sam Evans (who modified it for social sciences use) who said “I’m also totally fine for this code to be as open as possible and live freely on the net.”

      With that permission, Diego Vitali has adapted the same to suit the Roehampton University standard, which he published under a GNU license. Danny Price has developed a LyX version which is on Github with a statement stating “use responsibly” without specifying a license.

      Given Keith Gillow and Sam Evans’ statements, I feel comfortable releasing this under an MIT license, and will update the files accordingly. Will also take this opportunity to upload to Github so that people can suggest updates and pull requests more easily.


      John McManigle
  17. Running BibTex, i consistently get an error:
    “I found no \bibstyle command—while reading Oxford_Thesis.aux”

    Any advice?

  18. Hello, I have an issue, I am not able to find how to display the bibliography in this oxford template, how can I display it?
    Besides, I have citation but it is just like “nih_ct_2017” how can I add the [].

    Pablo Reynoso
  19. Hi John! Thank you very much for opening up this template for others but I seem to have an error from it when trying to compile the bibtex as it is from the download, that says

    – no \citation commands
    – no \bibdata commands
    – no \bibstyle commands

    These usually come up if end \end{document} was too early, but I can see that is not the case. I just wondered if this problem had come up for anyone else and whether you might know what has gone wrong / what I am doing wrong? I am running it from texmaker.

  20. Further to my last message, I discovered that it’s a problem with the preset compile commands I was using in TexMaker. Thanks!

  21. Hi, this is a great template! My only question is how do I adjust the font to Times New Roman and the line spacing of all text to 1.5x line spacing? Also, is there a way to include the Supervisor Name on the Title Page?

    Thank you in advance,


    Henry Powell-Davies
  22. Hi,

    I have stumbled across this having already written my masters dissertation. I would like to make my title page the same as the one in yours, but I have not managed to figure out how to do so. Any help would be appreciated! :)

  23. Hi John,

    Just wanted to say thank you for sharing this template with the wider community. I’ve used a modified version of yours and I’ll be submitting my thesis next week.

    I hope this message isn’t considered as spam.

    Really! Thanks a lot! Much appreciated. Keep up the good work.


  24. Hi John, thank you so much for this brilliant template which is making my PhD life much easier! I’m stuck with trying to compile individual chapters (e.g. for submitting a chapter to a supervisor etc). I’m trying \includeonly{chaptername} after the documentclass but for some reason that is giving me only the bibliography! I’ve also tried commenting out the \include commands for individual chapters but that would typeset, e.g., chapter 5 as chapter 1. Can you assist?

  25. Hi John, I managed to solve the problem in my last post – please ignore! I was wondering, however, how one could add in a `part’ structure above the chapter structure (i.e. Part 1 / chapter 1, 2, 3, Part 2 / chapter 4 5 6 or similar) – assistance would be greatly appreciated!

  26. Hi,
    Thank you so much for this template.
    May I ask how to change the option of double space and 1.5 space please?

  27. Hi John,
    Many thanks for this! I’m having trouble with the Bibtex as John Ylang had written previously. However, I’ve checked my preset compilers and all seems to be correct, yet I’m still getting error messages with bibtex:
    – no \citation commands
    – no \bibdata commands
    – no \bibstyle commands

    Help? :(


  28. Hi there,

    Many, many thanks for this template, it is so helpful. I am submitting my thesis in the form of journal articles for the different chapters. I was wondering if you could advise how I can create a small reference list per chapter (including only those references cited in that chapter)? Is it possible to also change the sub-section numbering within different chapters?

    Thank you so very much,

  29. Hi John, is the template still working?
    I installed TexWorks today and most of the template works apart from the bibliography/references – this is when trying to compile leaving everything unchanged from when it was unzipped.

    The log shows:
    I found no \citation commands—while reading file Oxford_Thesis.aux
    I found no \bibdata command—while reading file Oxford_Thesis.aux
    I found no \bibstyle command—while reading file Oxford_Thesis.aux

    …and all the citations are undefined. Not sure what’s going on here.

  30. Update: I fixed the referencing problem using the following. You need to select Biber instead of Bibtex. From stackexchange:

    “I’m a TeXstudio user and whenever I receive this error message, it’s because I’ve changed the default bibliography tool from biber to bibtex.

    To change it back, I have to do Options > Configure TeXstudio > Build > Default Bibliography Tool and the process works again.

    Even if this answer never helps anyone else ever, it’ll at least be good for me to have this here as a aide memoire next times this happens!”

  31. Hi John,

    Thanks so much for making this available, I really like it! I’m new to latex and am trying to work out the best way of adding a list of equations. This seems like the kind of thing people would do all the time but I can’t seem to get anything to work. Any suggestions?


    Suzanne Scott

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