Obtaining a Masters degree sometimes involves writing and presenting a thesis paper, which includes the outcomes of the student’s thesis work plus references to current and prior research in the field of study. To obtain a PhD, one must usually contribute something original and important to existing research, so the final paper (which is the length of a book) includes both references to existing prior research and, more importantly, a detailed discussion and analysis of the PhD candidate’s research contributions in her or his field.
There were similar developments in many other continental European universities, and at least until reforms in the early 21st century many European countries (. Belgium, Spain, and the Scandinavian countries) had in all faculties triple degree structures of bachelor (or candidate) − licentiate − doctor as opposed to bachelor − master − doctor; the meaning of the different degrees varied a lot from country to country however. To this day this is also still the case for the pontifical degrees in theology and canon law: for instance, in Sacred theology the degrees are Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB), Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL), and Doctor of Sacred Theology (STD), and in Canon law : Bachelor of Canon Law (JCB), Licentiate of Canon Law (JCL), and Doctor of Canon Law (JCD).