IS Postgraduate Qualifications

PhD or Masters Degree with Thesis

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This information sheet applies to students enrolled in PhD or Master of Information Sciences (MInfSc) degree, with a major in Information Technology (Albany)

A Masters or PhD Thesis is an opportunity for good students to do significant research of their own choosing.


Students must satisfy general Massey University Masters degree requirements, such as sufficient English skills.

For the MInfSc general requirements see:

For the MBS(IS) general requirements see:

A Masters degree with thesis normally takes at least two years. In the first year students complete papers including IT Research Project, a full year project, and develop a preliminary thesis proposal.

In the second year they complete a thesis under the guidance of a supervisor from the IT faculty. Note that the thesis "clock" does not depend on semesters, and that one year is the minimum time - it can easily take a few months longer.

Most ITmasters students initially enrol in a Postgraduate Diploma (e.g. PGDipInfSc), then convert it into the second year of an MInfSc. Some enter the MInfSc second year after completing an Honors degree (e.g. BInfSc(Hons)). Only students with exceptional grades (average A) are admitted directly into the MInfSc first year, as the Masters requires a 120 credit thesis, and supervision of this thesis cannot be guaranteed at initial enrolment. Spending the first year doing a PGDip lets the student confirm their potential to do a thesis, and if not, still gives them a qualification. In contrast leaving after the first year of a Masters gives no qualification.

Format requirements for submitting Massey theses are given at the following link, so when you submit be sure to follow all the instructions (e.g. one and a half spacing) or you will have to redo it!


The PGDipInfSc with IT Research Project (158.799) helps prepare you to enter the second year of a Masters degree with thesis by:

1.   Giving the research skills needed for a Masters thesis.

2.   Helping prepare a Preliminary Thesis Proposal, via the two-paper Information Systems Project.

3.   Providing exposure to potential thesis topics and supervisors.

To move from a completed postgraduate qualification (e.g. PGDipInfSc or BInfSc(Hons)) to the second year of a Masters you must have:

1.     A minimum Grade Point Average of B. Your performance in the IT Research Project should also be good, as this is a strong indicator of your ability to successfully complete a masters thesis.

2.   A Preliminary Thesis Proposal. See details below.

3.   A Masters Thesis Supervisor. See Staff Research Topics for Master’s Supervision

Preliminary Thesis Proposal

A Preliminary Thesis Proposal is a plan written by the student that outlines their intended research, and convinces a qualified IS staff member to spend the next year supervising their thesis research. It is usually 7-25 pages long, including references. A good initial proposal saves a lot of time later on, and always pays dividends. It is the beginning of the first few chapters of your final thesis, so writing it is not time wasted. It shows you have thought about what you want to do, so it is less likely to fail. Good proposals lead to good dissertations (see Writing Your MBA Dissertation by Brian White, 2002, p. 69).

A Preliminary Thesis Proposal consists of:

1.   Introduction: Give a title and the research goal? Why is this research important? What is your potential contribution to the research literature? Who is this research important to?

2.   Preliminary Literature Review: Review 7-14 important and/or recent academic journal or conference papers on your topic, and conclude with a single sentence Research Question that you think needs answering. If possible, attach an example research paper, one that you think is most like what you would like to do.

3.   Initial Research Method.  State the variables/constructs you are interested in, preferably distinguishing variable(s) related to your topic (dependent) from those that affect it (independent or control). How will you test your research question against the real world? Describe as best you can things like expected subject number, the sampling method, how missing values will be dealt with, the research tools used, etc. Only if your method is good will your conclusions be valid.

Your Preliminary Thesis Proposal can follow your Postgraduate Research Project, or can be an entirely new topic area. However it takes time to develop a convincing proposal, and this must be done in the first year.

Without an acceptable preliminary thesis proposal your intended faculty supervisor may not agree to commit to supervize you. Hence you should approach your desired supervisor early, both to get early comments, and to make sure he/she is available. Several drafts may be required until student and supervisor agree the proposed research is both valid and feasible. The Preliminary Thesis Proposal is submitted for approval to the Research Supervisor, who then signs the Academic Approval form (OGS2) for admission to the MInfSc degree as "Chief Supervisor " , which is then passed to the Post-Graduate Advisor.

SECOND YEAR – Complete Masters Thesis

It is beyond the scope of this information sheet to describe the process of carrying out a Masters Thesis. See the Postgraduate Policy and Procedures Handbook, published by the College of Sciences Office of Postgraduate Studies. Note that your "thesis clock" starts whenever you register for the thesis, which does not need to be at the beginning of the semester. You then must take at least one year to finish from that time, but it may take a few months longer depending on the thesis.

Some requirements are:

·                 The thesis should represent a substantial research effort, as it is officially a 120 credit research project, or one year of full-time study.

·                 The thesis should produce original, publishable research that includes an up-to-date and comprehensive review of the relevant academic literature on the topic, the design of an appropriate and valid research methodology, valid data collection and analysis.

Ideally, by no later than six months into the thesis year the student will have a full Masters Thesis Proposal approved by their supervisor, and be ready to collect and analyse their data. A full proposal covers the following areas:

1.   Introduction

2. Literature Review.

3. Research Question.

4. Research Design: Specifies variables and hypotheses

5. Research Method: Including completing all necessary research tools (e.g. a questionnaire).

6. Analysis Method: How the data will be dealt with, and details of any analysis methods or statistics that will be used. 

The final thesis then need only add “Results and Analysis” and “Conclusions and Discussion” to finish.


The thesis will be examined by the Supervisor, an independent Internal Examiner and an External (non-Massey) Examiner. They will award: First Class Honors, Second Class Honors Division I, Second Class Honors Division II, or a Pass.


Direct entry to PhD is by selection. As well as the usual language and visa requirements, applicants must submit a thesis proposal of 20-30 pages along much the same lines as for a masters, but in more detail and to a higher quality. They should also give some thought to who will be their supervisor.



For more information: Contact Brian Whitworth,