I handed in my undergraduate thesis in mathematics and since I had extra time due to COVID-19 lockdown, I had made a cover drawing for it that I included. I've never seen a thesis with a cover in the STEM field before.

Was it a bad decision on my part? Will it look like kowtowing/bootlicking my supervising professor for a better grade? I believe my work was pretty good on its own and I'm afraid I have ruined it with what was intended as a personal touch that I really wanted to add.

  • 1
    I wouldn't have an issue with it if it is relevant to the topic. Your advisor might view it differently. But if it is behind you there is nothing to be done
    – Buffy
    Jun 6, 2020 at 12:28
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    In my experience, theses usually have to conform to a standard institutional format that doesn't include cover art. Is your institution's format an exception to that? Jun 6, 2020 at 13:51
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    Anyhow, unless the illustration is of your supervisor as a mythical hero riding a dragon or something, I don't see how it could possibly be construed as bootlicking. Jun 6, 2020 at 13:56
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    if the illustration is of your supervisor as a mythical hero riding a dragon please include it in the question! Jun 6, 2020 at 20:40
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    @TheoreticalMinimum I thought including it was against the rules because I got a warning at first the question might be closed if it was too subjective. But to quench your curiosity, the subject was about the theoretical background of actuarial mathematics and my cover consisted of a man freefalling with some graphs around typically found in the theory discussed
    – John11
    Jun 7, 2020 at 20:35

2 Answers 2


It does not matter.

It used to be that theses were printed on paper. In those days, they had standard covers so they would all look the same when placed on a shelf in the library.

Today nobody cares about a digital cover.

Be prepared to provide a copy without the cover if someone asks for it.

  • 6
    Where are theses no longer printed? I still was expected to provide printed copies to both my PhD jury and the university when I finished mine in 2010. That was in Spain, and in France, where I did my Post-doc, theses were also printed.
    – terdon
    Jun 7, 2020 at 17:52
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    @terdon I suspect this is specifically in regard of the behaviour with undergraduate and taught masters theses, where there are significantly more produced, the circle of relevance is smaller and they are less likely to include significant new research than PhD theses or Masters be research.
    – origimbo
    Jun 7, 2020 at 19:52
  • Oh wow, I had completely missed that this was undergraduate! Thanks.
    – terdon
    Jun 7, 2020 at 22:19

This really comes down to institutional formatting policies. Some may disallow cover art, some may be indifferent to it, and some actually encourage it. For example, my Bachelor's thesis was in a STEM field and included an electron microscopy image on the front cover without any issue. I generally think it's a nice touch, assuming the cover art is relevant to the contents. Further, if that assumption holds it's really difficult to see how it could be interpreted as bootlicking.

I also know of several higher degree theses (Master's, PhD) from the same institution in physics and engineering that had front cover art. And they still print and bind PhD theses (and some Master's theses). They achieve a uniform look on a library shelf since the spine isn't affected. In fact, the institution's website notes that they prefer PhD theses to have similar cover art.

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    agree. You need to check if you violate the examiners rules. Also one needs not to forget that one has all copyrights of the image
    – lalala
    Jun 7, 2020 at 9:08

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