How Long Does it Take to Write a PhD Thesis?

PhD Theses

16th May 2024

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For any PhD student, writing a thesis within a stipulated time is an ultimate challenge. It involves multiple efforts from documenting and summarising years of research, performing countless experiments, and analysing a mountain of data. So, the question here is how long does it take to write this academic masterpiece? Unfortunately, there isn’t any specific answer. The time taken to write a PhD thesis depends on various factors which will unfold in this article. 

What is a PhD Thesis?

A PhD thesis is the crowning achievement of a doctoral program. It is a lengthy and rigorous document that showcases the years of determination and dedication. A PhD thesis is a book-length work that not only presents your original research findings but even helps you illustrate your research process, the data you collected, and the conclusions you have drawn. 

A PhD thesis is a significant contribution that you make to the field of your study, advancing and extending your knowledge base and even opening new opportunities for further exploration. A PhD thesis is a testament to your intellectual journey, which in turn helps you to demonstrate your ability to conduct independent research, analyse complex data, and even present your researched data in a clear and convincing approach.

Understanding the Time Required to Write a PhD Thesis

It’s crucial to understand the time required for writing a PhD thesis due to various factors. Firstly, it helps you have an idea of the realistic planning that is needed and therefore to manage your time throughout the doctoral journey. Knowing the potential PhD thesis length may help you with setting achievable targets, avoiding last-minute hassles. 

Factors Affecting the Time to Write a PhD Thesis

Various factors influence the writing duration, which makes it like a marathon rather than a sprint. Let’s analyse a few factors that affect the time to write a PhD thesis below:

  • Complexity in Finding the Research Topic

Finding the research topics is a complex process on its own. If you choose highly technical fields, you might end up analysing a large bundle of data that would require more time and effort as compared to other, more straightforward topics.

  • Field of Study

Disciplines including literature and history comparatively involve extensive research skills due to the vast interpretations and theoretical frameworks. This might lead to a lengthier thesis as compared to the fields of science and engineering, whose core focus is laid on data interpretation and results.

  • Feedback from the Supervisor and Guidance

The frequency of supervisions can significantly impact your writing speed. Regular and consistent feedback helps clarify expectations, ensuring you stay on the right track. This not only streamlines the writing process but also minimises the need for frequent revisions. Regular guidance allows you to address issues promptly and make steady progress, ultimately enhancing the quality and efficiency of your work.

  • Availability of Resources

Writing a thesis requires specific resources such as lab equipment, specialised data sets, and software. These resources can significantly influence your writing timeline. However, delays in obtaining them can cause unwanted pauses in the writing process.

  • Personal Circumstances

External factors such as health issues, prior commitments, or unexpected life events can impact your writing schedule. Balancing research and writing with personal responsibilities requires careful time management.

  • University and Department Requirements

Universities often have specific word counts and formatting guidelines. Meeting these requirements may require additional time for adjustments.

Average Length of a PhD Thesis

Although there’s no fixed length for a PhD thesis, the average falls within a specific range:

  • Word Count

A common question is: how many words are in a PhD thesis? Typically, a PhD thesis ranges from 80,000 to 100,000 words, excluding additional elements such as the table of contents, references, and appendices.

  • Page Count

The average page count of a PhD thesis would probably result somewhere between 200 to 400 pages. However, the outcome would depend upon factors like font size and additional formatting guidelines. 

Tips for Efficient Thesis Writing

Here are some tips to make your thesis writing process more effective and efficient:

  • Break it Down

Break down your thesis plan into manageable parts and set realistic goals for each section. This approach helps maintain focus and makes the task less overwhelming.

  • Create a Timeline

Establishing well-defined timelines along with setting realistic and manageable deadlines for each section and chapter would help you achieve your goals effectively. Also, share the decided timeline with your supervisors for their feedback and guidance.

  • Use Tools

Make use of reference management software to organise citations and avoid last-minute hassles. 

  • Write as You Go

Keep writing consistently and don’t wait until the deadline is near to start. Procrastinating can lead to rushed research and false findings, ultimately restricting your progress.

  • Use Feedback Wisely

Feedback from your mentors or supervisors is always intended for your improvement. It helps you identify potential gaps in your thesis and highlights areas for enhancement and revision.

  • Set Realistic Goals

Refrain from setting unrealistic and unmanageable goals such as writing a whole chapter in one go. Doing this might result in human errors or, worse, burnout. Set daily or weekly targets that are easily manageable. 

  • Limit the Distractions

While writing the thesis, always look for quiet surroundings where you can focus without any distractions. Moreover, limit yourself from using social media as it might pop up with unwanted and unnecessary notifications.

  • Always Schedule Breaks

Mental fatigue might lead to burnout. Take regular breaks so that you can focus on your writing seamlessly.


So, how long is a PhD thesis in the UK and how much time does it take to write one? The word count targets are typically set by the universities themselves, which is approximately between 70,000 to 100, 000 words. There’s no magic formula to write a thesis within a specific time frame. Just keep your focus in keeping the guidelines in mind while writing the thesis and keep time management in mind as a crucial factor. By doing so, you will always succeed in finding your way to conquer your thesis and ultimately achieve your PhD goals.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your PhD thesis and unsure where to start? Don’t worry, our team of experienced mentors is here to help. Whether you need assistance with choosing a thesis title or crafting a comprehensive literature review chapter, we have the expertise to guide you through every step of the process. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support and take the first step towards successfully completing your thesis.