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Before embarking on this journey, I suggest you read my LaTeX and content tips.

University of Malta – LaTeX Dissertation (or Thesis) Template

Let us not waste any time, you have a project to write up! Here is a complete example (PDF format) of what this LaTeX template looks like. Or quicker...

Now back to the boring bits ...

A modern, highly configurable assignment/project/fyp/dissertation/thesis template for the University of Malta. (In reality, there is nothing specific to the University of Malta, and this LaTeX class may be used anywhere). This template is loosely based on my D.Phil. Thesis at the University of Oxford, which was loosely based on ... You get the drift.

This template was clearly needed, as I keep correcting/examining poorly and inconsistently formatted dissertations all the time. Updates to the template with examples (2-page landscape table anyone?) are greatly appreciated -- either through pull requests, github issues or emails (

The main file is dissertation_main.tex, and this will show you how to organise your dissertation. Basically replace all \blindtext commands with your content and you are there, ready to print. This is obviously a case of something more easily said than done.

I am also keen on keeping an FAQ with the most common LaTeX problems, which you are bound to face on the night before your submission deadline.


For this template you will need the beautiful Lato font for headings. This sans font creates a pleasing contrast with the serif text. lato.sty can be installed (on Ubuntu) with:

sudo apt install texlive-fonts-extra


What is the difference (if any) between a thesis and a dissertation?

University of Malta regulations specify a thesis only in case of PhD, and SThD degrees. In all other cases it is a dissertation.

Bet you didn't know this one bit of academic trivia! (Note: The answer is specific to the University of Malta, answer given by our dear registrar, Ms Veronica Grech).

May I use this template for my assignment? What changes do I need?

You must, not should! You should view any written submission as a training opportunity for your final dissertation. Getting familiar with the template will help you out later in the course. Of course, some (very) minor changes to the template are required; as follows:

  • From dissertation_main.tex comment out (%) frontmatter sections for originality, dedication, acknowledgements, and abstract (these would look silly in an assignment).
  • Also, from the same file dissertation_main.tex comment out all the appendix material (unless you actually have an appendix; unlikely)

(Let me know if any more changes are required)

But how do I use (build) this?

Well, this is the sort of thing your supervisor would expect you to find out on your own. However, you can either use a GUI like TexMaker (this is what I use) or TexStudio. Or if you are so inclined, to build your document from the command line (in the directory where dissertation_main.tex resides):

latexmk -pdf

This generates a lot of clutter, but it is important to go through it as some warnings can give you valuable insight on stuff to fix for a perfect presentation. To clean all the LaTeX generated files:

latexmk -c

Note that this will leave the generated pdf file, as is desirable most of the cases.

I am a foe of the environment, and don't want to double side print -- how do I fix this?

Well, first of all, you moron. Secondly, by default the template uses two-sided printing settings (margins, recto openings for chapters, table of contents, etc.). If you want to change that, simply pass oneside as an option to the document class (as opposed to twoside). I suggest you use double-sided layout and printing when you print the examiner's copy (we hate carrying thick manuscripts around) and single sided when you've handed in your corrections, and given out your final copies (to the library, to your supervisors, etc.).

Why are there so many blank pages?

First, blank pages are only generated with the twopage option. This is because typesetters don't start new chapters (and abstracts/acknowledgements/etc.) on the verso side (left in the western-world) when using both sides of the paper. Chapters start on the recto side (right), so an empty page is inserted if the chapter start falls on the verso side (left). The onepage option clearly has no empty pages (or has blank pages at the back of each paper, so every verso page is empty). Note that the page margins are different for the recto and verso sides in the twopage option, this is because of the spline (which is on the right for verso and left for recto). I hope this is clear, I am an amateur typesetter.

My supervisor(s) says section X should be named Y. What should I do?

It is always counter-productive to not listen to your supervisor. This is a generic template, and your specific use-case may have different requirements. For example, in some departments it is common to have a "Methodology" section instead of the (more experimental) "Materials & Methods". Elsewhere, the "Evaluation" section is sometimes merged in the "Results and Discussion" chapter. Some faculties require a standard cover page. This template is very flexible, and any changes are easy/trivial to make. The important thing is to use good judgement and that you follow your supervisor's advice.

For references, which is better [42] or [Ebejer et al., 2022]?

Many computational scientists are used to the IEEE referencing style with numbers, i.e. [42]. But there is a reason why plannat, or similar, is superior. Your examiners (and supervisors) will be well acquainted with the research area and will know which are the main papers you should have read (and cited). If you use numbered referencing, the examiner has to keep cross-referencing the References section. This is not the case when using the name of the author and year directly in the citation. Moreover, it is easier for the examiner to realize when you are mis-citing an author. Modern typesetting is moving in this direction.

I have a huge figure which takes up all the page. I would like to switch off headers and the bottom page numbers, but \thispagestyle{empty} does nothing (or changes some other page).

The template uses the floatpag package. All you need to do is place a \thisfloatpagestyle{empty} inside the figure or table environment. Et voilà! There is an example of this here.

How do I write good Latex Mathematical Notation/Formulae?

The Math on Quora is all you need. Any math notation you might need is available conveniently in the menu bar. All examples contain live code blocks so you can try out your math formulae directly in the web browser.

How do subgroup my chapters in parts?

Some of the longer documents, such as doctoral dissertations, require a sub-grouping of chapters together. This may be easily achieved with \part{My First Part} in the the main document file (e.g. dissertation_main.tex) right before the chapters which make up the part (see example).