Writing a Watertight Thesis: A Guide to Successful Structure and Defence

writing a watertight thesis

Mike Bottery and Nigel Wright
Routledge, £25.00

Writing a Watertight Thesis gave a very thorough overview of the whole PhD progress, rather than commenting solely on the thesis and defence, as I expected from the title. As such, I feel as though this book would be best suited for PhD students just beginning their journey or even those starting the application process.

For instance, a section dedicated to structuring research proposals will be very helpful for those who have not had to write something similar before, giving you prompts on how to begin and then how to build on these first thoughts. The book in general often focuses on this approach, giving a variety of prompts and encouraging you to test these initial ideas over a coffee with a friend. This resonates with me, as often putting pen to paper- especially at the beginning of writing a full PhD thesis- can be the most difficult and daunting part.

Aspects of the book that I thought were of particular interest to myself, as a final year PhD student, were: scoring sections of past theses to help you form your own (pg 46-47), theses from the examiner’s point of view (pg 144-145) and example viva questions and how to begin answering them (pg. 153-154, 156-158). 

Overall, a helpful book that gives insight into what a PhD thesis should contain, how it should be structured and what examiners are looking for, as well as delving into what a PhD is, in the wider sense.

Natalie Lamb MRSB RSci