I submitted my thesis in 2013 but passed my viva (the oral defense/examination) in 2014. Should the date (month+year) which I put in, on and around my thesis be,

  • When I submitted my soft-bound copy to the examiners.

  • When I passed my viva (the oral defense/examination).

  • When I submitted my hard-bound copy to the university.

A fourth option is,

  • It depends on your university.

(Note that I am at a British Uni, so I presume that this is governed by something the British Library said...but what they said, I cannot find...)

This seems to be ridiculously hard to search for, but I apologise if it has been asked before.

  • Depends upon your University's policy. Perhaps even your department's policy. Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 16:29

8 Answers 8


This is the kind of question which is best answered with actual evidence. Many American universities have their thesis formatting rules online, and you can find them with relatively little effort. British Universities (Oxford and Cambridge, in particular) often seem not to give as detailed rules. From these examples, it is clear that the rules for which date is used depends on the university.

  • Harvard University: "[Month and year of the submission of the completed dissertation to the department, division, or committee and Dissertation Acceptance Certificate was signed]",

  • MIT: "the date the degree(s) will be conferred (June, September, or February only)",

  • Stanford University: "(Date should reflect month and year of submission to the Office of the University Registrar.)"

  • University of Michigan: "year of degree conferral not year that dissertation was finished" (they don't want a month).

  • University College London: no date seems to be required on the thesis (none is mentioned in the guidelines, and there are theses without dates in their archive).

  • University of Edinburgh: "Year of presentation. In the case of a thesis which is resubmitted, the year in which the thesis is resubmitted should be shown as the year of presentation." What do they mean by "year of presentation"? From their website: "At some point between submission of your thesis and the viva, you are encouraged to give a final presentation of your work to the School, often via a research group seminar series."

  • University of Leeds: "the year of submission for examination (Or resubmission where the thesis is submitted following re-examination after referral)."

  • 2
    Oddly, University College London says nothing about the year in the text of the thesis (so presumably it's not required, as you say), but it does require it to be printed on the outside. For that it says "Thesis submitted for examination in November and December should have the following year lettered on the spine." Commented May 17, 2017 at 19:29

While I agree that you should check your institution's regulations, I will give some pointers based on experience at UK institutions. Everything I write should have the proviso "This may vary between institutions" attached.

The thesis you submit will have the date of submission on the title page. After the viva, the examiners at a UK institution can make one of several decisions. The following is a rough guide:

  • Accept the thesis without requiring corrections. In this case, the hardbound thesis will be the same as the submitted version except possibly for fixing typos etc. In this case, the date on the hardbound version should be the same as the date on the submitted version.

  • Accept the thesis subject to minor corrections. In this case, you will have a certain period (often three months) to make the corrections, which the internal examiner will check before formally accepting the thesis. (There is usually no second viva on the corrected thesis.) In this case, the date on the hardbound thesis should be the date that the corrected version is completed and given to the internal examiner to check.

  • Reject the thesis but offer the candidate the option of making major corrections and re-submitting within a certain period (often a year). In this case, the submission process starts over and the dates will all reflect the new submission process.

  • Reject the thesis for a Ph.D. but accept it for an M.Phil. In this case, there are no changes (except possibly for changing "Ph.D." to "M.Phil." on the title page) and so the initial submission date remains on the hardbound thesis.

  • Reject the thesis entirely. In this case, the question is moot.

  • I took my PHD at the university of manchester and was told that "minor corrections" did not count as a resubmission and therefore the original submission date stood. Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 21:26

My intuition would be that it would depend on the university’s regulations, but I’d guess 2014, since your examiners could have asked you to make changes, which would mean that the version you submit wouldn’t be the same as what you submitted to them. I assume you’re actually being admitted to the degree this year, too.

The quickest authoritative answer would presumably be obtained by emailing the relevant library (note that only some universities’ theses go to the British Library).


I got my PhD from Aston University. There, its the date it was first submitted to the examiners. If you then have to resubmit after corrections (which most people have to do) this doesn't change the date, since its the original date that is used.

I had to pay for labels to be printed to cover up the incorrect date on the spine of my thesis, as I used the resubmitted date by mistake!


I agree with dbmag9 that your university's regulations are definitive. If they do not give any guidance - and if you have nothing helpful from your supervisor, department, etc. - then I would suggest the following: The date on the thesis should be the date when the text was most recently submitted for examination.

Typically, a thesis undergoes minor or major corrections before being accepted. However, the approval of corrections is done without repeating the full examination process. More significant changes require "revise and resubmit" and in my mind this justifies bumping the date. But for small changes, the text is essentially the same version. That said, I don't think it's at all wrong to use the final hardbound submission date. I wouldn't pick the viva date, even if you had no corrections: the text was produced for the viva, not at the viva.

In my case, I had to include the text "Submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy" on the title page of the hardbound version, and I had to include a statement affirming that the text was the same as the original submitted thesis, aside from changes required by the examiners. This made me think that the accompanying date ought to be the date of the submission, not the date of the approval. (In fact, there were many different possible approval dates - examiners, the department, the central university authorities, the actual graduation ceremony. None of these seemed like the obvious correct choice.)

  • The date would normally be when the university conferred the degree, so some time after the viva. But really, just ask your academic department. Commented May 21, 2014 at 15:41

There's yet another option you don't mention (and the one I chose for my dissertation): The date you submitted your manuscript to the press. This date signifies when it left your hand for good - you could not make any changes after this date whatsoever.


I took my PHD at manchester in the UK and ran into this issue.

When I queried it I was told that "minor corrections" (the result most people get from a phd viva) did not count as a resubmission. Therefore the original submission date stood for the final thesis.

I would reccomend querying this with your supervisor rather than risking paying a bunch of cash to print/bind your thesis only to find out you have the wrong date on it.


It's the date that will be on your diploma, most presumably your viva.

Why should your viva be the correct date? Because PhD thesis are supposed to be contributions to a field acknowledged by your peers. Thus, a PhD thesis must be publicly disclosed (i.e., published or presented at an oral exam) so that you can be questioned about your work.

The oral exam rules will vary depending on the country. For example, in France only PhD degree holders (but any PhD degree owner, not just the jury) are allowed to ask questions at the oral exam. Some Swiss institutions (at least EPFL) keep the oral exam with the jury private, but the PhD degree gets awarded only after a public presentation, and the public presentation date will be the date on the diploma.

  • 2
    This isn't correct for all institutions. From the Harvard University rules for formatting the thesis: [Month and year of the submission of the completed dissertation to the department, division, or committee and Dissertation Acceptance Certificate was signed] Commented May 22, 2014 at 11:54
  • @PeterShor Do you have a link for that? My Ph.D. dissertation from Harvard has a different date in the dissertation from the date on the Acceptance Certificate. That seems like a given, since the certificate is signed immediately after the defense, prior to subsequent revisions of the dissertation.
    – Sverre
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 16:28
  • 1
    You're right; that was the wrong link. It's Page 12 here. These are the March 2014 rules, while the other link is from July 2005. It looks like Harvard changed the rules, possibly to a form that is now impossible to honestly comply with. Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 20:16
  • 1
    @PeterShor Interesting that they made this change, because it would generally be impossible to adhere to, since the date of the submission never (?) is the same as the date the certificate is signed. Something for the current Harvard grad students to worry about ...
    – Sverre
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 20:20
  • 1
    @Sverre: Since they only require the month and year, the right thing to do (???) would be to hold your defense on the first of the month, after which you have thirty days to revise your dissertation. Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 20:30

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