Information about copyright over your thesis and when to seek permission to include third-party materials in your thesis.

Copyright over your thesis

Under the UQ Intellectual Property Policy, Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates:

  • Retain the copyright in their thesis
  • Assign the University a perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide licence to use and reproduce the student’s thesis for non-commercial educational, teaching and research purposes.
  • are able to publish their work (e.g. articles, book chapters or as a book).

The assignment of this licence to UQ provides HDR candidates with the same opportunities, rights and responsibilities as University staff in relation to the commercialisation and protection of any IP they have contributed to or created. 

Assigning your copyright to UQ

There may be times when you are asked to assign the copyright in your thesis to UQ by your supervisor.

Top of page

Including copyright materials in your thesis

Your thesis may contain third-party copyright material. You may need to seek permission to reproduce this material when publishing all or part of the thesis.

Your copyright permissions need to be in order before your work is published (made available to the public). This includes uploading your thesis to UQ eSpace under an Open Access licence as part of your candidature.


  • Insubstantial quotes: usually do not require permission
  • Large chunks of third-party text: generally require permission. 

The Fair Dealing Exception for Criticism and Review could apply when there is active criticism and analysis of third-party material in the thesis text. Some exemptions apply. 

Images, photographs, maps and diagrams

Commonplace and well-established formulae and diagrams may not require you to seek permission because they lack sufficient originality to receive copyright protection. 

Otherwise, seek permission to reproduce images as it is more difficult to claim fair dealing for criticism and review.

Top of page

Non-traditional thesis (prior publication)

If your thesis incorporates articles you have written or co-written previously, seek written permission from the relevant publishers before:

  • your thesis is published in any way or made available online
  • republishing portions of previously published works (in their original form or a substantially similar form).
Top of page

Contact us for copyright advice

Email us at for advice on seeking permission to incorporate third-party materials, whether the fair dealing exemption applies and when to seek permission.

Top of page