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A few remarks on how to write a bachelor’s thesis

A bachelor’s thesis is usually its author’s first longer essay of an academic nature. During the process of creating a bachelor’s thesis a student acquires skills that will be helpful in his or her further academic or professional activity.

Such skills undoubtedly include the ability to construct a logical text using a proper language, precision in formulating thoughts, argumentation in support of one’s own position and the correct use of scientific terminology, relevant literature and other sources, including the mastery of footnote techniques, text editing and composition. In this article, you will find a number of tips aiming to make the process of creating your first dissertation easier.

Topic selection

A well-chosen topic of a bachelor’s thesis is the key to success. A student should choose a subject which is relevant to both his or her interests and abilities. It is best to seek inspiration in previous academic interests and experiences as it is easier to write about an issue which is familiar for the student and remains in the area of his or her interests. Undoubtedly, the experience of the author in the selected topic may increase the value of the work (involvement in the topic discussed is often noticeable in the work, and then the work includes the student’s interesting observations and conclusions). When choosing a topic for the dissertation, one should also take into account the fact that a bachelor’s dissertation is not very extensive (usually about 60,000-70,000 characters), so the topic should not be too broad. 

To sum up, firstly the topic of the thesis should be interesting for the author (but it must also correspond to the topic of the seminar). Secondly, when choosing the topic, the student must take into account the fact that it should not be overly complicated and ambitious, so that during the writing process the writer does not encounter obstacles that could ultimately lead to slowing down the work and discouraging him or her from writing the thesis.

One should remember that this is the first thesis and its author is not required to explore complex research issues or be excessively innovative and creative. Thirdly, an important aspect which does not seem so obvious, the student should find out if source materials are available (whether there are scientific studies that can be used while writing the thesis about this subject) before choosing the topic of the thesis. When you are choosing the topic of a bachelor’s thesis, you should formulate the title well as it needs to be clear, readable and not too long. The title must be compatible with the thesis content because the scope of the considerations contained in the thesis must correspond to its title. Of course, the exact title of the thesis may be modified over the course of writing the thesis (e.g. narrowed down).

Systematic work and collaboration with the supervisor

Once the topic of the paper has been chosen, it would be best to immediately move on to drawing up an outline for the paper and reading the relevant literature or other sources available. In this way the writer will be able to find out whether the topic of the paper was chosen well or maybe it should be modified or changed. Writing your dissertation in a systematic way will certainly make it easier for you to keep your integrity when writing it. In most cases, leaving the task of writing the thesis to the last minute may compromise its quality. Moreover, a bachelor’s thesis, which is the first thesis in a student’s life and as such may be a new challenge, often requires numerous revisions, which the author must take into account. Additionally, one must remember that the dissertation supervisor needs time to read and review the paper, while the author needs time to correct it and submit the final version on time (satisfying all formal requirements). Regular meetings with the dissertation supervisor are also important in order to clarify any doubts in real time during the writing process. The thesis supervisor is therefore essential for the bachelor’s thesis writing process. Before you choose your bachelor’s seminar (which you do by enrolling in the university USOS system) you should also find out who will be teaching such a seminar and thus become your supervisor. Your supervisor is a person who oversees the thesis creation process and supports the student by sharing his/her knowledge and experience. The most important responsibilities of the supervisor include:

  • assistance in selecting the topic and its approval,
  • discussing the thesis outline,
  • consultations with the student during which the supervisor can provide valuable advice, not only in terms of the content but also in terms of drafting, i.e. the use of bibliography, the structure of the work or the construction of footnotes,
  • overseeing the process of writing, setting up a schedule, e.g. by setting deadlines for the delivery of individual parts of the work and the final version,
  • accepting the paper and admitting it for the defence exam,
  • indicating the reviewer of the paper,
  • preparing the review of the thesis,
  • participating in the student’s defence exam.

Thesis structure

A bachelor’s thesis should include the following components:

Title page

This page should provide information on the title of the thesis, the author’s details, the field of study, the thesis supervisor and the university, the city, the year and the fact that it is a bachelor’s thesis.

Contents page

When creating the table of contents, it is best to employ the automatic function of the contents table creation. It is important that the chapter order is correct and logical.

Introduction (i.e. introduction to the subject)

 The author should present the purpose of the thesis, possibly justify the choice of the topic and then discuss the structure of the thesis, i.e. state how many chapters there are and what is in them, as well as present the research methods adopted. The introduction should be written only after the entire paper has been completed.

Chapters and sub-chapters

The paper should consist of at least three chapters, each chapter should start on a new page, chapters should be marked with Roman numerals, no full stop should be used after the title.


The conclusion should include the author’s conclusions formulated on the basis of the considerations in the paper.

Reference literature

This section contains a list of the sources consulted. Publications are listed in an alphabetical order and start with the author’s surname followed by the abbreviated name, without page numbers. 

Formal requirements 

  1. Format: A4 (on the recto only),
  2. Font: Times New Roman, 12 points,
  3. Line spacing: 1.5 line,
  4. Margins: top: 2.5 cm, bottom: 2.5 cm, left: 3.5 cm, right: 2.5 cm,
  5. The text should be aligned (justification), paragraphs should be indented (paragraphs are used when you want to formulate a new thought or discuss the next issue),
  6. Pages should eb numbered at the bottom (do not number the title page),
  7. Chapter headings should be put in bold 14-point font, sub-chapter headings in bold 12-point font,
  8. Footnotes should be placed at the bottom of the page in 10-point font (in the Microsoft Word text editor, to insert a footnote go to the insert footnote tab).

Footnotes – some fundamental principles

Each bachelor’s thesis is subject to verification by an anti-plagiarism programme and the supervisor receives notification that such a verification has been completed and the paper is acceptable. Plagiarism is the appropriation of authorship of another person’s work or part of it. A distinction is made between overt and covert plagiarism. Overt plagiarism is the takeover of all or part of a given intellectual property, a work in its unaltered form. Covert plagiarism involves taking over, in a more or less altered form, elements of another person’s work. A student who commits plagiarism commits a crime, which means that he or she may face disciplinary and criminal responsibility. Pursuant to Article 115, Clause 1, of the Copyright Act of 4 February 1994 (O.J. of 2021, item 1062), whoever appropriates or misrepresents the authorship of the whole or part of another person’s work shall be subject to a fine, restriction of freedom or imprisonment for up to three years. Therefore, when you write a diploma thesis, you need to respect copyright rules. It is important to use correct references to the sources cited (in the form of footnotes). Footnotes should be prepared in a sound manner. If you refer to someone else’s ideas, thoughts or conclusions, you should always cite the author’s publication in the footnotes. If you quote directly, you should put the person’s words in inverted commas. If you can paraphrase, do not use quotations, but remember to make a proper footnote. 
 Here are some rules and examples of how to properly construct footnotes:
1.    When you cite a publication such as a monograph, the footnote should be constructed as follows: 
Z. Kmieciak, Ogólne zasady prawa i postępowania administracyjnego, Warszawa 2000, p. 35.
2.    If you cite a statement contained in a collective work, you should indicate the author of the cited statement and the collective work:
G. Łaszczyca [in:] G. Łaszczyca, C. Martysz, A. Matan, Postępowanie administracyjne ogólne, Warszawa 2003, p. 123.
3. If the collective work has been edited, it is sufficient to indicate only the editor instead of all the authors, e.g.:
H. Knysiak-Sudyka [in:] Postępowanie administracyjne, ed. T. Woś, Warszawa 2015, p. 110.
4. If you refer to an article or a gloss, you should describe the publication as follows: 
T. Kiełkowski, Naruszenie prawa dające podstawę do wznowienia postępowania administracyjnego jako przesłanka uchylenia decyzji przez sąd administracyjny, PPP 2008/4, p. 60.
B. Brzeziński, Glosa do wyroku Naczelnego Sądu Administracyjnego of 28 September 2016, I FSK 1245/16, POP 2017/2, p. 91.
5. If you refer to the same publication again, you can use the abbreviation Ibidem, s. 36
6. If you refer to the same publication again but not directly after the previous reference, you can do in this way: Z. Kmieciak, op. cit., p. 44. You can also refer to this publication in the following way: Z. Kmieciak, Ogólne zasady…, p. 36. If you refer to several publications of one author, do not use op. cit., just cite the abbreviated title: Z. Kmieciak, Ogólne zasady…, p. 36.
7.  The following phrases may be used in footnotes: See, More information can be found in and Cf..
8. If referring to a source available online, indicate the Internet address and, in brackets, the date of access to the web page.
9. If illustrations, drawings, tables, photographs or diagrams are used in the work, indicate the source for each of them. 
This article is based on my experience as a supervisor of undergraduate theses at the Faculty of Law and Administration written by students majoring in Administration. My hope is that these tips will also be useful for students of other faculties. It should be noted, however, that each academic teacher who is a thesis supervisor may have slightly different requirements or recommendations for a bachelor’s thesis, depending on the discipline and the subject of the diploma thesis. 

About the author

Anna Golęba, PhD – assistant professor at the Chair of Administrative Procedure of the Jagiellonian University Faculty of Law and Administration. She is an author of publications on administrative procedure and administrative judicial procedure.

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