Introduction Writing a doctoral thesis or a master’s dissertation is probably the greatest writing challenge a graduate student will face in the course of completing an academic programme, both because of the length of the text that has to be produced and also because of the complexity of the rhetorical task. At a fundamental level, the student writer has to demonstrate a command of subject knowledge allied with an ability to undertake independent research of a requisite standard, but the writer also has to display a degree of affiliation to a disciplinary community, by adhering, to some degree, to accepted conventions of communication within the community, and also has to establish an individual, coherent voice through the text. These requirements are not always made explicit, either, and often the writer has to work out what the expectations are.