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Word Count

The word count for MPhil programme varies, for both the essays and the Dissertation. However, for each specified word count, the same guidelines as to how to calculate the word count apply.

The word count must be strictly observed. Students can expect to be penalized for exceeding or falling short of the prescribed word limits. Normally the penalty will be up to 5 marks but in severe cases the dissertation may be marked as failed. No penalty will be imposed for an excess of up to 150 words below or over the maximum word limit, but this allowance should not be abused.

The word count includes:

Statistical graphs, charts, and tables, which should be counted at 150 words per page.

  • Appendices (if any): which should be included, if at all, only in dissertations, on the advice of your supervisor. Permission may however be sought from the Degree Committee to exclude from the word count an appendix which for the convenience of the examiners reproduces a little-known or difficult-to-access text or source being discussed: see the Dissertation Submission Guidelines for the procedure to be followed.


  • Chapter and section headings.


  • Captions for illustrations and maps.

The word count excludes:

  • Footnotes. However, footnotes should be restricted to the documentation of claims and the registration of relevant caveats or observations in relation to the literature. Footnotes must not be used to circumvent the word-count length in relation to the argument of the essay or dissertation; examiners have the discretion to penalise work which grossly abuses the purpose of footnotes. See below for further instructions on footnotes.


  • Bibliography. See below for further instructions on bibliography.


  • Prefatory material: title page, table of contents (for dissertations only: see B.6 below), acknowledgements page (optional), abbreviations list (optional: see C.3.b below).


  • Illustrations and maps. If you include these, please ensure that they are clear and legible and provided with appropriate captions. The captions do count in the word count as stated in A.3.d above.


  • Passages duplicated because of the requirement to supply translations of sources in foreign languages (see section C.4). Students may supply either the original foreign-language source or the translation in the body of the text, as they see fit. Those who have quoted from the original foreign-language source should supply the translation in the footnotes, and vice versa. Since these duplicated passages are placed in the footnotes, they are not included in the overall word count. However, note that if the submission goes on to discuss the translation as part of the argument, there the translated words should be counted normally.

Calculating and verifying the word count: the word count should be conducted on the main body of the text, excluding prefatory material and bibliography, and setting the 'word count' tool to exclude footnotes from the word count. This should be included on the cover page of the essay or Dissertation.