Master's Thesis

The Master’s Thesis is the final part of the master’s degree and comprises 30 or 40 ECTS (45 ECTS for students enrolled on the 4+4 PhD programme)

The Master’s Thesis is the part of the master programme where you independently document your ability to identify, analyse and critically address engineering issues on a scientific basis. If your thesis contains experimental work, you must demonstrate an ability to plan and complete a practical project within a limited period of time. Moreover, the thesis will document your ability to submit a written report of the work completed.

The thesis study consists of the following elements:

  1. The project, experimental and theoretical work
  2. Thesis report, submitted for assessment and part of the thesis examination
  3. Thesis examination.

The thesis work itself includes formulation of a research question (thesis statement) and hypotheses; literature search and reading; experiments, if relevant; processing of results; etc. and is to a large extent the part of the study where the student is given the opportunity to engage in his/her specific field of interest.


Information about the Master's thesis

Finding a supervisor and the role of the supervisor

You must yourself (in good time) find a thesis supervisor from the Faculty of Engineering. As a rule, the principal supervisor must be employed by the Faculty of Engineering. Any co-supervisor may be employed by another faculty. All faculty professors, associate professors and assistant professors may act as principal supervisors. PhD students may only act as co-supervisors.

The supervisor is formally responsible for academic supervision during the process and must participate in the concluding thesis examination. The role of a supervisor is to supervise during the entire project period?? through regular dialogue with the student.

Master’s Thesis in cooperation with a company

If you choose to write your thesis in cooperation with a company you may have a supervisor from the company (also known as an external supervisor). In such cases, you must also have a principal supervisor at the Faculty of Engineering. It is the principal supervisor who ensures that the thesis meets the Faculty standards for a master’s thesis.

Cooperation on a project must be based on an agreement between the student(s) and the company. There is no requirement for direct contact between the supervisor(s) and the company. However, it is important that the principal supervisor is familiar with the company’s objectives and how they have contributed to the project.

You may, in connection with your cooperation with the company, receive company data or other classified information, which the company does not want publicised in the master’s thesis. In that case the company is likely to ask you to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (abbreviated NDA). An NDA means that your thesis will not be publicised. Should the company have further confidentiality requirements that will also bind SDU you must contact your programme coordinator as soon as possible.

When you submit the master’s thesis you must enclose any NDA as a separate, titled/named enclosure to the thesis, also if the NDA is only entered by you and the company. In addition, you must state in the loan form/lending form that you and the company have entered an NDA (please refer to the paragraph “Submission of the bachelor project report” below). Ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure that SDU is informed of the company’s wish not to publish the thesis report.

Co-authors

The master’s thesis is usually carried out by 1-2 students. In special cases, the thesis can be carried out by up to 3 students. This, however, requires special permission by the Head of Programme. In the thesis report it must be stated clearly which parts of the report each student is responsible for. 

Registration and thesis contract

You must register for the master’s thesis to enter into a thesis contract. Registration for the thesis takes place at the same time as registration for other teaching classes through Self Service within the registration period. You will receive a letter in your student email when it is time to register. Registration for the thesis also means that you are bound by the Faculty’s fixed project period and submission deadlines. You must apply the study board for a dispensation if you cannot keep within the fixed project period.

Once registered you can enter into a thesis contract through the electronic forms system. Guidelines to the electronic thesis contract are available here.

The research question of the thesis is written in cooperation with the supervisor. The thesis contract must be submitted for approval no later than 31 August, if your project period starts on 1 September and no later than 31 January if your project period starts on 1 February. If your study programme has announced an earlier date, you must abide by the submission date announced by your study programme.

Once the contract is approved by both supervisor(s), Head of Programme and the Director of Studies you will receive a copy of the approved contract in your student email. You will also be contacted via your student email in case of any problems during the process.

Note that finding a thesis subject and getting started on the project is your responsibility. Not getting started by semester start does not qualify as an exceptional circumstance which may give grounds for exemption from the submission deadline.

Thesis report

Students enrolled on a programme offered in Danish may write the thesis report in either Danish or English. If the supervisor does not speak Danish, the thesis report must be written in English. Students enrolled on a programme offered in English must write the thesis report in English.

The thesis report must include an abstract in English. If the report is written in English, the abstract may be in Danish. The abstract will be included in the assessment.

The Faculty of Engineering has no overall requirements as to the length of the thesis report, by number of characters or pages. Your programme, however, may have programme specific requirements. Please contact your Programme Coordinator for further information as to programme specific requirements.

Submission of the thesis report

The submission deadline is stated in the thesis contract. If you have been granted dispensation for a later deadline this deadline will be stated in the letter of dispensation.

The submission deadline is binding. Should unusual conditions/circumstances prevent you from submitting the thesis on time, you must Apply to the Academic Study Board for dispensation for suspension no later than one month before the official deadline. Please refer to the paragraph Amendments to the thesis contract below.

The thesis report must not contain any civil registration (cvr) numbers, including your own. Instead you must state your name on the front page. If the thesis has more authors, all names must be stated on the front page.

The thesis report must be submitted electronically in BlackBoard in the master’s thesis course under the menu SDU Assignment. The report must be submitted as one single pdf document. Any enclosures must be submitted as separate files. Any NDA must be available in a separate enclosure in pdf format. Should you have any special enclosures which cannot be submitted in pdf format (such as programming code/encoding, film and similar), these enclosures can be uploaded as a single zip-file together with the pdf document. In addition, any large drawings can be submitted in paper format at the relevant secretarial office provided you have a prior agreement with your supervisor. You will receive an electronic receipt (confirmation of submission) in your student email. It is important that you keep the receipt as this is your documentation for timely submission.

You can submit only one copy of the thesis report: if you are more students who write together, you must agree in advance who will submit the thesis report in BlackBoard. The student who submits the thesis report in BlackBoard must immediately after submission send a copy of the receipt to his/her fellow students.

All thesis reports are checked for plagiarism.

Upon submission of the thesis report you must fill in the electronic loan form (log in with your SDU username and password) where you must state to which extend the thesis report can be lend from SDU’s library. If you have signed an NDA you must remember to state this (refer to the paragraph Master’s Thesis in cooperation with a company for further information).

Changes in the master’s thesis

If during the thesis work you learn that the thesis takes you in a different direction than initially assumed you can apply the study boeard for approval of change of title and/or change of research question. As a main rule, approval of change of title or research question does not qualify for dispensation as to submission deadline.

You must also apply the study board for dispensation if there are other changes that affect the thesis contract, such as the need for postponement of the submission deadline. Such changes must be based on exceptional circumstances.

Applications for dispensation for changes in the thesis contract must be received by the Academic Study Board no later than one month before the submission deadline.

Thesis examination

The thesis examination is held within 6 weeks from the date of submission of the thesis report.

Usually the exam starts with a presentation of the master’s thesis. Following the presentation students are examined on the report and the presentation.

In addition to the supervisor(s) an external examiner will be present at the exam as assessor. The exam will be graded according to the 7-point grading scale based on an overall assessment of the thesis report and the oral examination and the student will receive the grade immediately after the exam.

Assessment of the thesis report is especially based on its academic content. Spelling and wording (regardless of language) are included in the assessment with limited weight unless there are significant deviations from common academic language. Relevant documented disabilities may lead to exemption from this rule.

If you fail the thesis exam or fail to submit the thesis report

If you fail to meet the submission deadline for the thesis you will use an examination attempt and you must sign an agreement supplementary to the thesis contract within two weeks of the submission deadline. You must enclose an extended research question with the supplementary agreement. The extended research question must be within the original subject area and it must, regardless of the number of ECTS awarded, equal a workload of an additional three months. You can get a third attempt according to the same rules as apply to the second attempt.

If you fail the thesis exam you must sign an agreement supplementary to the thesis contract within two weeks of the examination date. You must enclose an extended research question with the supplementary agreement. The extended research question must be within the original subject area and it must, regardless of the number of ECTS awarded, equal a workload of an additional three months. You can get a third attempt according to the same rules as apply to the second attempt.

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