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document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree

A thesis (plural: 'theses') is a document written in support of an academic degree or professional qualification. It presents the author's research and findings.[1] It means the same as dissertation.

The term dissertation can be used to describe an argument without relation to academic degrees. The term thesis may also be used for the central claim of an essay or similar work.



Originally, the words "dissertation" and "thesis" had separate meanings. When, at ancient universities, the professor had completed his lecture, there would be a disputation. During this, students could take up certain points and argue them. The position that one took during a disputation was the thesis, while the dissertation was the line of reasoning with which one supported it.


The word "thesis" comes from the Greek θέσις, meaning "position", and refers to an intellectual proposition. "Dissertation" comes from the Latin dissertātiō, meaning "discourse".

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  1. International Standard ISO 7144: Documentation – Presentation of theses and similar documents, International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, 1986.