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Homepage / How do I reference a thesis… in the APA7 style?

How do I reference a thesis… in the APA7 style?


Many of you will be using theses in your research. Although these may not have been published in the traditional sense, when you incorporate content from theses into your own work, it needs to be cited and referenced just as you would do for content taken from a traditional publication like a book or a journal. In this post we will explain how to write a reference for a thesis.

Theses and dissertations are treated slightly differently in APA7 depending on whether they are ‘published’ (e.g. in a database, a website or an institutional repository) or ‘unpublished’ (e.g. only available in print format in the University library). We will cover both types here.

So what information do you need to record to reference a thesis?

  • Author (Surname, Initials.)
  • (Date – year of publication – include day and month if available – within round brackets).
  • Title – in italics, with any subtitle separated by a colon. [Follow this with a description – e.g. Unpublished MSc thesis – in square brackets. For published theses, also include the awarding institution here].
  • Publisher / source. If published, include the name of the website, repository or database. If unpublished, simply include the name of the awarding institution.
  • URL (if available, and only if the thesis is available to your readers)

And how does this all fit together to make a reference? Here are some examples for you to follow.

An ‘unpublished’ print thesis or dissertation:

Neumann, A.J. (2006). Critical analysis of the importance of branding in B2B marketing. [Unpublished MSc thesis]. Cranfield University.

Ellis, S. (2012). The shifting shape of useful knowledge in literacy teaching. [Unpublished PhD thesis]. University of Strathclyde.

A ‘published’ thesis or dissertation:

Champniss, G. (2013). All for one and one for all: encouraging prosocial behaviours through brand-convened consumer groups. [PhD thesis, Cranfield University].  CERES.

Marin-Uribe, P.L. (1995). The impact of liberalization on market structure in the European airline industry. [PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science].  EThOS.

Remember that each ‘element’ of your reference – except the URL – should be followed by a full-stop and a space.  It is also important to always format APA7 references with a hanging indent. This may not always be obvious with shorter references.

When you refer to the thesis in your own work, simply follow the traditional citing conventions of name and date.

For all your referencing questions – please contact your Library – Kings Norton Library and MIRC on Cranfield campus or Barrington Library on Shrivenham campus.

Please note: Cranfield supports two different referencing styles – APA7 (Author-date) and Numbered (NLM). Please make sure you use the style preferred by your supervisor or lecturer. The advice above relates only to the APA7 style. If you have any questions about referencing, please contact the Library.

Feature image from Pixabay. Available at:

Karen Stokes

Written By: Karen Stokes

A Business Librarian since 2009, Karen leads support for the Cranfield MBA courses, both full-time and Executive.

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