The stages of the thesis process

The Master’s thesis project is – more than any other paper – your paper. Apart from writing the thesis project itself, it also entails that you are responsible for structuring the process, submitting the thesis contract, supervision plan and project description on time and optimizing the benefit of the supervision.

To help you get off to a good start, below is an overview of the stages of the thesis process.

Stage 1: Registration, information and orientation on the semester before the thesis project

You must sign up for the thesis project, when you have to sign up for the classes on your third semester. Because on the third semester, your programme offers activities that are intended to help you prepare for the thesis project process.

Thesis preparation activities
The preparation activities may be a thesis workshop, seminars or the like. That is where you get information on how to write a thesis and your possibilities of supervision during the thesis process. The idea behind the preparation activities on the third semester is to help you get off to a good start with the thesis process.

Check when it's time for course registration

Check Blackboard
Before the start of your third semester, you can find information on Blackboard about how the thesis preparation activities are structured on your programme.

Stage 2: Identify a subject area and apply for a thesis supervisor

During the thesis preparation activities on your third semester (Stage 1), you have to identify your subject area. Having done that, you have to apply for the Study Board’s approval of the subject area and you should also indicate, if you prefer a certain supervisor. Information on how to apply for approval of your subject area and how to apply for a thesis supervisor is available on your programme’s webpage or on Blackboard.

How to submit the application
The application for approval of your subject area must be submitted by using this form: – and check deadlines.

Stage 3: Thesis contract, supervision plan and project description

When a thesis supervisor has been assigned to you, you and your supervisor must begin to narrow down your subject area so that the topic matches the length of a Master’s thesis project.

Thesis contract and supervision plan
You and your supervisor also need to draw up:

  • A thesis contract including a supervision plan
  • A project description

The thesis contract is your formal agreement with SDU about your Master’s Thesis project. The supervision plan must contain both scheduled supervisions and objectives in the thesis project. If you are a group of students who want to work together, each of you must submit an individual thesis contract.

Project description
A project description must contain the following parts:

  1. Working title
  2. Problem definition/research question
  3. Disposition
  4. Outline of theories and literature
  5. Outline of empiricism and data
  6. Reflections on methods
  7. Working plan*

*i.e. your own plan for the thesis project process, e.g. when to finish chapters, collect empirical data etc.

The thesis supervisor must ensure that the project description lives up to the requirements in the curriculum, and that the project and the supervision plan are realistic in view of the time frame.

Minor adjustments in the project description
You may make minor adjustments in the project description (for example in working title and research question) and supervision plan during the thesis process. These adjustments must be made in agreement with your supervisor.

How to submit your thesis contract, supervision plan and project description
The thesis contract including the supervision plan and the project description must be submitted via (Check deadlines):

The Head of Studies approves the thesis contract and the project description.

Thesis supervision
You are entitled to 10 hours of supervision during the thesis process and before you submit your thesis project.
The 10 hours include:

  • Drawing up a project description and supervision plan – see above.
  • The actual supervision including the supervisor’s preparation time before the meetings with you.

You and your supervisor must draw up a supervision plan that shows when and where the supervision is going to take place. The supervision plan is submitted as part of your thesis contract. To benefit the most from the supervision, it is recommended that it continues throughout the thesis process.

How to use your supervisor
You and your supervisor must agree on how you contact him/her, when you need supervision.

Before each supervision, you should always make sure to be focused on what you expect from the supervision and how you are going to prioritize the time to benefit the most from it.

Keep in mind that the supervisor may help you with ideas concerning literature, references and search procedures, but it is not the supervisor’s job to find the literature and the references for you.
Examples of a supervision plan:

  • 5 one-hour meetings throughout the thesis process.
  • 1 one-hour meeting before you draw up the contract, 4 one-hour meetings during the rest of the thesis process after the contract has been drawn up and approved.
  • 2 30 minute meetings before you draw up the contract, 4 one-hour meetings.
Stage 4: Submitting your Master’s thesis project

When you submit the thesis
You must submit your thesis through Blackboard. You are welcome to contact your study secretary if you have any questions concerning the submission. Once you have submitted your thesis, you cannot withdraw it to avoid assessment. 

Do you need a pre-approval?
If you are signing up for an unemployment insurance fund, you may need a pre-approval of your thesis, once it is submitted. The preliminary approval is a written confirmation from your supervisor and the external examiner that you will receive a passing grade. Find the form on your unemployment insurance fund’s webpage.

It is solely up to your supervisor and the external examiner whether they will accommodate your wish for a pre-approval.

SDU has assessed your thesis within six weeks after the deadline. However, in general the thesis will be assessed within a month after the deadline. Your grade will be available on the Student Self Service. These deadlines also apply if your thesis has an oral defense.

After the assessment. Let SDU know if others may have access to your thesis. 
When you have passed your thesis, you will receive an e-mail on your SDU mail, with a link to a lending form. Here you must specify whether your thesis may be loaned out from the SDU Library. It is important that you carefully consider it and fill out the form, since you have done a great job that many - including students and the public - may enjoy and benefit from.

After submission and assessment you are entitled to a 30 minutes feedback on your thesis project. The feedback may be about:

  • The academic standard – the thesis’ weaknesses and strengths and an explanation of the grade given
  • A discussion of certain themes or arguments in the thesis
  • The thesis process – your approach to and structure of the work, your use of supervision
  • The linguistics of the thesis – such as the standard and scope of the language in relation to the target group
  • The potential of the thesis – possibilities for publication of parts of the thesis or ideas as to which job or business prospects the thesis opens up to.

You must contact you supervisor to arrange a meeting for the feedback which in general takes place within four weeks (except July) after the publication of the grade.