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This interactive online MSD Skills training course complements 'Viva preparation' and is designed for those in the final or second to last year of their DPhil who are preparing to write their thesis. Part 1 has to be completed in Canvas before booking links for the optional live sessions are made available.


By the end of the course, you will:

  • Have developed an initial detailed outline of your thesis for discussion with your supervisor
  • Have planned a writing schedule that considers your writing speed and style
  • Feel ready to write a rough draft of your thesis
  • Be confident in revising your own writing for clarity, simplicity, and completeness and in applying feedback.

Enrolment instructions

Self-enrol now to start Part 1 with this linkSelect ‘Join this course’ on the home page. 

Please note that enrolling on Canvas does not automatically book you onto a live session. Live session booking links are made available in Canvas once you have completed the Part 1 materials, by following the instructions in the videos.

Part 2 dates for Michaelmas term 2022: 24 October 14:00-15:30 and 25 November 14:00-15:30 (booking through the Part 1 Canvas space).


This two-part course consists of a self-study Canvas course, supported by live sessions for exercises, discussion, and questions.


Part 1 is delivered online using Canvas. We’ll cover how to plan, write, and revise your thesis. The course consists of short pre-recorded videos supported by examples and suggested exercises, drawing on your research thus far.

Please allow around 3 hours to watch the videos and at least another 3 hours to complete the exercises. Depending on how far along you are in your DPhil journey, you may wish to dedicate much more time than this, to use the prompts and exercises to fully develop your thesis outline and writing plan. 

Module 1: Planning the thesis

  • Defining the aim of thesis, versus other things you have written before
  • Figuring out your overall message
  • Possible thesis structures
  • Plotting your chapters to support your message
  • Gathering the information you need before you start writing
  • Communicating with your supervisor about how and when to request feedback

Module 2: Writing the thesis

  • Creating a writing timetable
  • Strategies for writing and overcoming pain points
  • Tips for specific chapters and their sections
  • Suggested IT training to help with writing a thesis

Module 3: Polishing the thesis

  • Editing your work from rough draft to simple, clear, and complete final thesis
  • Strategies for requesting, coping with, and incorporating feedback


Once you have completed the self-study in Part 1, you can choose to attend a Part 2 live session. These are optional! 

The live session will not repeat the information in Part 1. Instead, we will use this time for discussion, guided exercises, and to answer your submitted questions. You can choose whether to join using audio and visual, just audio, or text chat.

Please make sure you read all of the sections below relating to how the course will work, the surveys and attendance certificates.


Part 1: Unlimited, via self-enrolment.

Part 2: Maximum 40 participants per live session.


Part 1, accessed via self-enrolment in Canvas, consists of pre-recorded talks and exercises, The pre-recorded materials are broken into short videos, to make it easier for you to fit this course around other commitments.

Part 2, is an optional 1.5 hour live session held in Zoom. Live session dates and booking links are made available in Canvas when the majority of Part 1 has been completed. During the live session, you can choose whether to join using audio and visual, just audio, or text chat.


Self-enrol now to start Part 1 with this link. Select ‘Join this course’ on the home page. 

Dates and booking instructions for the Part 2 live sessions are included in the Part 1 Canvas space. Once you have booked on a live session, you will receive an automated email with the joining instructions and session link. You can join by clicking the link 15 minutes before the session starts. Once the tutor has started the session, they will tell you what to do.


A good internet connection, uninterrupted time, camera and microphone enabled on PC.


You will receive separate certificates for Part 1 and Part 2.

The Part 1 Canvas course completion certificate will be automatically generated once you have gone through all three modules and answered a short three-question feedback survey.

After attending a Part 2 Live session, you will be sent a link to complete a separate feedback survey. Once you have submitted the survey, you will be sent an email with a link to your Part 2 attendance certificate.

Part 1 and 2 certificates are only released after feedback surveys are submitted to ensure we receive the feedback we need to evaluate and improve our courses. Survey results are downloaded and stored anonymously.


Where no cost is indicated in the shopping trolley, no deposit is required to book onto this course. However, two or more non-attendances or late cancellations without good reason will be logged and may mean you cannot attend any further MSD training that term. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for further information.