Is there a difference between thesis and dissertation in a British academic context? I saw that thesis was more used at Masters level while dissertation at PhD level but would like a confirmation.

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    In my region, we would use thesis for all levels, and dissertation specifically for doctoral work. I have never seen dissertation used for a BA degree.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 14:40
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    'Thesis' has meanings that 'dissertation' doesn't have. A proposition, for one. Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 14:40
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    Interesting. I wrote a thesis, not a dissertation, for my Master's. Maybe it's a BrE/AmE split?
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 14:45
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    I really can't see why this has been closed as being able to "be definitively and permanently answered by a single link..." - my answer was accepted and I cannot find a definitive link, everything is contradictory (hence why I haven't expanded on my answer).
    – neil
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 20:54
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    Here in the UK they're interchangeable in common usage. I submitted dissertations for both my BA and MSc, though I always thought thesis has a more academic ring to it.
    – immutabl
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 11:03

2 Answers 2


As FumbleFingers says, the British usage is the opposite. I would see the difference being that a dissertation is the discussion of a subject, as would be appropriate for Bachelors, and possibly Masters whereas a thesis is a proposition based on new research as required for a Doctorate.

  • This is the usage with which I am familiar
    – Jodrell
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 16:55
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    Thanks, I would appreciate some authoritative usage examples, if any exists. For instance Cambridge engineering school uses both: www-h.eng.cam.ac.uk/help/tpl/textprocessing/ThesisStyle I will take this as an answer if no additional information though.
    – Vladtn
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 19:28

dissertation is normally for PhD only, and a thesis is used both for Masters and PhD.

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