Bachelor Thesis – how many sources should be used?

Bachelor Thesis / Master Thesis is for the majority of students the last scientific work they have to write and the longest. A very nice farewell with the university. In the Master’s Thesis, which amounts to 50 to 100 pages, and in the Bachelor’s Thesis, which amounts to 25-50 credits, students demonstrate their knowledge acquired during their studies and the ability to write a thesis on a selected subject in their degree program to write independently under the supervision of the lecturer.

Master Thesis / Bachelor Thesis – How many sources belong to a thesis?
Students often ask how many sources should be used in a master’s thesis / bachelor thesis. Of course, the question can not be answered unambiguously because there is no universal answer. The number of sources depends on the following factors:


Scope of work (the longer the Master’s thesis, the more sources are usually required) is an important factor in the number of sources used.


Like all scientific papers, the Master’s thesis / Bachelor’s thesis should meet certain requirements, which are individually determined at each university and are valid for all students of this university. General guidelines from the university often indicate how many sources should be used.
It often happens that the lecturer gives his individual criteria and a minimum or maximum number of sources (eg at least 2 footnotes per page and 40 sources for all the work).


The number of sources also depends on the topic: if it is a “classic” topic, there are many literature positions on the market that are easily accessible. Thus one expects more references than bachelor theses / master theses, which investigate a relatively new or even a not well researched field. In this case, the number of sources is lower than usual for clear reasons.


The type of work also plays a relevant role: Literature work (very rarely in the case of master’s theses, more often in bachelor’s theses) requires more sources than in a work that consists of a theoretical and practical part.
That’s what universities / colleges say about the number of sources
Source quality instead of source quantity
At FOM Hochschule, the number of sources is secondary; much more is the focus on the quality of sources, where literature works require more sources than empirical work.

Journals vs. Books
The University of London also does not list any specific sources, but emphasizes the relevance of specialized articles.

How many sources per page?
The University of Manchester gives as a guideline 2-5 footnotes per page. Whether it is in each case the same source, it will not be discussed.

How many sources in a housework?
At the University of Liverpool also no exact number of sources is specified. However, an example of a reasonable guideline is given: 30-70 sources to about 20-30 p.

How many sources in a bachelor thesis?
At the University of London quite accurate information regarding the number of sources are mentioned. As a guideline, the number of pages of the scientific paper is assumed: A work, which comprises about 40 pages, should contain about 40 sources.

New sources are better

At the University of Manchester, emphasis is also placed on quality and not on quantity of sources. The recommended source number is called “reasonable”. It is important to use primary sources that are as up to date as possible.