Thesis Statement Workshops

Time: Day 1, 11:40-13:10 (Y3 & Y4), Day 2, 10:00-11:30 (Y1 & Y2)

Room: Conference Rooms 4 & 5 and 6 & 7, Level 03

Facilitator: Prof. Iadh Ounis and Dr. Craig Macdonald, University of Glasgow

Co-ordinator:  Graham McDonald

RDF Domain: A


Every PhD student should have a main point, a main idea or central message in their research. The argument(s) the student makes in their thesis should reflect and support this main idea. The sentence that captures the position on this main idea is the thesis statement. This session will discuss the important characteristics of the thesis statement and how the statement should be developed to be the focal point of a PhD thesis.

There will be two Effective Writing: Thesis Statement sessions during the PhD conference. One session will be for students currently in the first or second year of their PhD, while the other session will be for students currently in the third or fourth year of their PhD. The session activities will be tailored to the attendee’s year of study and will focus on:

  • The importance of the thesis statement
  • Pitfalls to avoid when writing a thesis statement
  • The points that the thesis statement should address

All students attending the session will be asked to submit a copy of their thesis statement and research questions. The anonymized statements will be used as examples for discussion in the workshop.


This session will be mostly practical and interactive, supported by feedback from experienced academics.

  • Part 1 (30 minutes): Presentation on developing and refining your thesis statement by a senior academic, followed by Q&A.
  • Part 2 (30 minutes): Group break-out activity: Each group will be given 2-3 anonymized thesis statements to review and comment on.
  • Part 3 (30 minutes): Re-group discussion: The academic will lead a discussion of interesting points that were raised during the break-out activity.

Learning Outcomes

  • The student should have a good understanding of the importance and purpose of a thesis statement.
  • The student should be able to identify the characteristics of an effective thesis statement.
  • The student should be able to develop a thesis statement that explicitly outlines the purpose or the point of their research and can be argued for throughout their thesis.