Writing a thesis using LaTeX

If you're a science postgrad student, the chances are you've heard of LaTeX. It's very commonly used to write scientific papers, largely because it's very good for typesetting equations. A lot of science postgrads also write their theses using LaTeX, but very few of them seem to be given any training in how to use it. I know I didn't get any while writing mine!

There are plenty of decent LaTeX tutorials out there, so I am not going to attempt to write a better one here. However, a real life example can often make things clearer, no matter how many tutorials you've read. Partly for this reason, and partly in an attempt to make my PhD research more widely available, I've decided to put my PhD thesis online, along with the images and LaTeX code used to generate it. I hope that they will be useful to people. Here are the relevant links:

The source file archive contains all the files needed to generate the final PDF, using the command pdflatex full_thesis.tex, followed by bibtex full_thesis, followed by pdflatex full_thesis.tex another three times. N.B. it is necessary to run the final command three times to make sure all the references are correctly picked up.

I used Kile instead of the command line most of the time while working on the thesis, which I highly recommend. The thesis uses a variety of LaTeX packages, which may or may not be included with your version by default. On Ubuntu 8.10, if you have the following packages installed you will be able to build the thesis: texlive-base, texlive-base-bin, texlive-bibtex-extra, texlive-common, texlive-doc-base, texlive-fonts-extra, texlive-fonts-recommended, texlive-formats-extra, texlive-generic-extra, texlive-generic-recommended, texlive-latex-base, texlive-latex-extra, texlive-latex-recommended, texlive-math-extra, texlive-pictures, texlive-publishers, texlive-science. They're probably not all needed.


  1. The archives are in 7-Zip format, because it gives very good compression, and is available on nearly all platforms.
  2. The thesis itself is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK licence. The archives each contain a file called README.txt which outlines copyright information for the files they contain, which is also Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK where possible.
  3. The source archive contains two versions of each image: an eps version for generating dvi versions of the thesis, and a jpg or png version for generating pdf versions.
  4. Many of the images were originally created in svg format using Inkscape, then exported into png and/or converted to other formats using ImageMagick. The second archive is for anyone who wants to use the images and prefers to work with them in svg format.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Murad Banaji for a couple of images (and supervising me during my PhD!), and to Licia Capra for the original version of the uclphd.cls LaTeX document class used for the thesis.


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