4 things you should know about the Master´s thesis
1. What is a Master´s thesis?
The Master’s thesis is an assignment worth 30 ECTS, corresponding with one semester of full-time studies.
In your Master’s thesis you have the opportunity to show your skills applying scientific theories and methods in a specific subject matter.
In the Master´s thesis you must be able to:
- define a topic for the thesis and formulate a clear scientific problem based on the topic.
- investigate, analyse and discuss the academic issue by using the relevant academic theories and methods
- argue on a solid scientific basis
- take a critical stance on sources used and give a qualified account of the relevant research literature
- evaluate and revise own methodological and theoretical approaches.
Read more about the requirements for your Master’s thesis in the Master’s thesis course description.
The Master´s thesis is - more than any other assignment - your assignment. Other than writing the thesis itself, you're also responsible for structuring the process, submitting contracts and plans on time and getting the most out of your supervision.
The aim of the Master´s thesis
The aim of the Mater´s thesis is for you to demonstrate your ability to apply scientific methods, as well as define, analyze and process scientific problems within a specific academic topic.
Apart from being familiar with the content requirements of your Master´s thesis, you are also expected to aquaint yourself with the formalities in connections with the Master´s thesis. Before you start the writing process, it is e.g. good to know about the allowed length of the project. Formalities, including information about the length of the project, is found in the Master´s thesis course description.
2. When will you write your Master´s thesis?
In your process model you can see when in your programme the Master´s thesis is placed.
The Master´s thesis takes place across two semesters, with preliminary activities such as thesis workshops, choosing your topic and assignment of a supervisor in the first semester and the actual writing of the Master´s thesis in the second semester.
3. Important dates for the Master´s thesis
There are important dates you need to be aware of, when writing your Master´s thesis.
Take a look at the table below, to see the dates that apply if you write your thesis in the spring or in the autumn.
Spring semester Autumn semester What do you need to do? How? May 20. - 30. November 20.-30. Sign up for the Master´s thesis and the thesis workshops. Self-service November 1. June 1. Submit your topic for the thesis. Contact your Study Secretary for specific guidance on how you´re assigned a supervisor. Find the form under Applications and forms December 1. June 15. Your programme's deadline for assigning you a supervisor. You will be notified through your student e-mail, which supervisor you have been assigned. Student-mail January 15. August 15. Submit your thesis contract, supervision plan and project description. You submit the thesis contract and supervision plan through a form in Applications and forms.
You upload the project description as a pdf in the same place.
The clock is ticking, and the submission deadline is fixed, even if your subject area has not been approved.
January 31. August 31. You will receive notice on whether your thesis contract, supervision plan and project description are approved or not. Student-mail June 1. January 2. Submission deadline for your Master´s thesis.
If June 1./January 2. falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, your deadline is the following weekday. However, always make sure to check your examination schedule.
SDU's digital platform
4. If you fail to submit or do not pass your Master´s thesis
If you fail to submit or do not pass your Master's thesis, you will use an examination attempt and a new deadline will be set for 3 months with an additional workload.
If you fall ill, someone in your family becomes ill or passes away, or other exceptional circumstances occur during your thesis process, you can apply to postpone the deadlines - i.e. apply for an exemption.
Feel free to contact The Student Guidance Service, should you have questions regarding the thesis rules and exemption possibilities.
The Master's thesis process
The Master´s thesis process
1. Sign up for the Master´s thesis
You sign up for the Master´s thesis at course registration a year before you expect to submit your thesis. That means in May, if you expect to write your thesis in the spring the following year and in November if you expect to write your thesis in the autumn the following year. Then you will be registered for the thesis preparation activities the following semester and writing your thesis in the semester after that.
Sign up for the Master´s thesis at course registration
You sign up for the Master´ thesis through Student Self-Service when course registration is open between the 20th and 30th of May/November. If you have not signed up yourself, but have passed 40 ECTS when you finish your first year, you will automatically be registered for the thesis.
2. Attend the thesis preparation activities
The thesis preparation activities are placed in the semester before you write your thesis and 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 is to help you get off to a good start with the thesis process.
Keep an eye on SDU's digital platform!
On SDU's digital platform you will be informed about how the thesis preparation activities are structured in your programme.
3. Find a topic and request a supervisor
Thorugh the thesis preparation activities you will find your overall thesis topic.
when you have found your overall topic, you need to get the topic approved and at the same time request a specific supervisor.
Submit your topic and supervisor request
You submit your topic and request a specific supervisor by filling out a form. Be sure to do it within the deadline, which can be found in the section 'Important dates for your Master´s thesis' above.
If you are writing your thesis as a group, you only need to submit one form.
4. Draw up your thesis contract and supervision plan
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.
You and your supervisor also need to draw up:
- A thesis contract including
- A supervision plan
- A project description
The thesis contract
The thesis contract is your formal agreement with SDU about your Master’s Thesis project. If you are a group of students who want to work together, you need to submit only one thesis contract per group.
In collaboration with your supervisor you need to make a supervision plan, stating when and how you're going to receive supervision, that is times of supervision and milestones in the thesis process. To gain the most from the supervision it is a good idea to distribute it throughout the entire thesis period. The supervision plan is submitted as part of your thesis contract.
You are entitled to 10 hours of supervision during the thesis process. The 10 hours include:
- Drawing up a project description and supervision plan
- The actual supervision including the supervisor’s preparation time before the meetings with you
Having a good collaborative relationship with your supervisor is important to the Bachelor's project process.
You supervisor is there to help you with the areas where you need feedback and inspiration. Therefore, you gain the most from the supervision, if you continuously show him/her your incomplete ideas and products.
You and your supervisor must agree on how you contact him/her, during the thesis period.
Also discuss with your supervisor how you would like the 10 hours of supervision to be distributed. Should contact be frequent (e.g. trough e-mail) or would you prefer a few longer meetings? Should your supervisor read (and therefore prepare) at lot?
Examples of the distribution of supervision during the thesis period:
- 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.
Before going to a supervisory meeting, you should always consider what you expect from the supervision and how you would like to prioritize the time to gain as much as possible. Take the lead and make an agenda for each meeting.
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.
A project description must contain the following parts:
- Working title
- Problem definition/research question
- Outline of theories and literature
- Outline of empirical data
- Reflections on methods
- Working plan (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 course description, and that the project and the supervision plan are realistic in view of the time frame.
Minor adjustments in the project description and supervision plan
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 SPOC. Remember to keep the deadline, which you can find above in the section 'Important dates for the Master´s thesis'.
- You must fill in the thesis contract on SPOC.
- You must upload the project description and the supervision plan as PDF-files on SPOC.
The Head of Studies approves the thesis contract, supervision plan and project description.
The submission deadline for your thesis is fixed, even if your topic has not been approved.
- A thesis contract including
5. Write your Master´s thesis
When you and have drawn up and submitted your thesis contract, you will begin writing your Master´s thesis. To do that, it´s a good idea to have a firm understanding of how to tackle a large assignment.
Make your writing process a good experience
Help is available to get the best possible writing experience.Make sure to use your supervisor and match your expectations about how the supervision will take place. In addition, you can use the thesis activities offered by The General Study Counseling and The Student Counselling Service.
Also read about How to make the Master´s thesis project process a sucess.
6. Submit your Master´s thesis
You must submit your thesis through SDU's digital platform. 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.
The oral defence must take place no later than four weeks after the submission deadline. The assessment of your thesis project will be given immediately after the oral defence. For information on the provisions for the oral defence, please check the course description for the thesis project.
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. So remember to consider it and fill out the form.
Do you have questions regarding your Master's Thesis Project?
➤ Contact The Student Guidance Service.