Postgraduate Students Thesis Embargo Guidelines


This document applies to postgraduate students enrolled at the University whose degree includes a thesis. It applies to all versions of the thesis, whether electronic or hard copy    


To provide clarification of the circumstances in which a postgraduate student may apply for an embargo to be placed on public access to their thesis


The University holds to the principle that research undertaken by students and presented as a thesis in partial or complete requirement for the award of a postgraduate degree should be in the public domain. However, the University also recognises that exceptions will arise. A thesis deposited in the University Library will normally be available for public consultation unless there are compelling reasons for restricting access to it. The terms under which postgraduate students may request an embargo be placed on public access are outlined below


Confidential and sensitive material

Access to a thesis may be restricted, normally for a maximum of two years, if it contains confidential and sensitive material that would:

  • breach prior contractual arrangements with outside organisations
  • prevent or jeopardise an application for a patent, licence, or registration
  • provide good reason for refusing to disclose the contents of the thesis, consistent with the provisions of the Privacy Act (1993) or the Official Information Act (1982)

Intellectual property rights

  • Access to a thesis may be restricted, normally for a maximum of one year, if there are plans to publish all or part of the thesis, and public access will jeopardise the author’s intellectual property rights 

Note: in most cases it is not necessary to embargo a thesis because of publication plans and an embargo may be detrimental to the dissemination of the research


  • An Application to Embargo a Thesis may be made by the author of the thesis and/or the supervisor, through the academic head to the Dean of Graduate Studies

Information note on print-on-demand publishing

  • Once your thesis is available online through the University Library you may be approached by a publisher who offers to publish it as a book. Some publishers operate on what is known as a 'print-on-demand' basis. This means they do not print any copies until someone orders a copy (apart from the sample copies they send the author) and they do not contribute any formatting or copy-editing normally associated with 'publishing'. The manuscript is not refereed as per standard scholarly practice
  • Print-on-demand publishers tend not to invest in any marketing apart from uploading a record for the 'book' to online booksellers (e.g. Amazon) (which is free). They rely on the author promoting the book to friends and family and to the relevant university library. Although they offer royalties, the small print indicates that this is only when monthly sales exceed a specified level (which rarely happens)
  • If you decide to go ahead with a print-on-demand publisher, it is VERY important that you specify to the publisher that the University Library has a right to keep the WHOLE digital version of your thesis on the library website. Otherwise, the University Library may be asked to remove the thesis, which would not be in the best interests of you as the author


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic head refers to the head of the academic unit in which the candidate is registered

Postgraduate students are those students enrolled in any postgraduate degree at the University which includes a thesis

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries

University Library refers to the University of Auckland Library

Document management and control

Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies

Content manager: School of Graduate Studies

Date approved: September 2018 

Review date: September 2021