Who should read this page?
This information concerns all Chalmers and GU students, who will be doing their master (MSc) thesis work at the CSE department. You can be a student of any of several GU or Chalmers programs, (e.g., CS, SE, MPALG, MPCSN, MPEES, MPSOF, and many others). Note that information from your master program director (MPA) might supersede the information given on this website. For students within the program MPIDE (interaction design) please proceed to this IxD pingpong-page.
What is the Master´s Thesis?
The master’s thesis is a final, vital part of your Master of Science program, and is intended to provide you with the possibility to show your ability to integrate the knowledge from your education in individual, scientifically oriented work. The thesis is supposed to allow you to gain a deeper knowledge of the subject at hand and to synthesize what you have learned within your master’s program. It should also give an insight of the working processes used in the society at large and often within a company, public organizations or academic institutes.
The thesis work is done as an independent project at the end of your education, single-handed or in pairs. A 30hp thesis project normally takes approximately 20 weeks. If a thesis project is not finished within 30 weeks, the examiner may, if there are exceptional reasons, grant an extension of additional 10 weeks. The department reserves itself a right to terminate the thesis project if a student is inactive for more than 3 months without a prior written consent from the supervisor, or if the progress or quality of the thesis project does not correspond to the department’s standards.
There are two levels for the master’s thesis, 30 hec and 60 hec:
- The 30 hec master’s thesis is standard. The work is conducted within the department or at a company. The work is conducted individually or in groups of two students. The project is scheduled to last for approximately 20 weeks.
- The 60 hec master’s thesis is of a more advanced type and is intended for the most advanced students – it is also somewhat of an exception. The project lasts 40 weeks rather than 20, and must demonstrate significantly higher scientific achievements. This kind of master’s thesis should be conducted in close contact with one of the research groups at the department and should in most cases take place within one of these groups although an external company might also be involved. Past experience shows that this kind of work is best suited for those who aim at future PhD studies.
Official course plans:
- For students at Chalmers
- For students at University of Gothenburg
General guidlines: We strongly recommend that you finsish all compulsory and semi-compusory courses of your pogram before starting your thesis project. Ideally, you have passed all courses before you start your master´s thesis project. Previous experience shows that students who start their thesis with less than 60 hec for 2-year master´s program or less than 240 hec for a 5-year master´s program often take substantially longer time to both start and finish their projects. Students that start their thesis with at least 75 hec / 255 hec often suceed well.
Basic minimum requirements for students at Chalmers
- Students pursuing the five-year Master of Science (Civilingenjör) education must have acquired at least 225 hec before beginning work on a master’s thesis project.
Students who only take part in a Master’s program must have acquired at least 45 hec within the program before starting the master’s thesis work.
Basic minimum requirements for students at the University of Gothenburg
- To be eligible for the master’s thesis course, the equivalent of 75 hec is required. This is without counting credits from an earlier, first cycle (Bachelor) degree.
- At least 60 hec (or more) must come from courses on the advanced (Master) level, out of which 45 hec (or more) must come from courses within the Computer Science/Software Engineering area.
- A first cycle (Bachelor) degree is assumed in general. In particular, a Bachelor thesis (15 hec) is required as a prerequisite.
- Not only the number of points is important, the courses taken should also be suitable for the project at hand.
For a specific thesis proposal there might also be additional prerequisites meaning that you have to pass specific courses relevant to the thesis work, before starting the master’s thesis project.
- Apply significantly specialized knowledge in the main area/specialization of the program in his or her project and relate this to current research and development work in a scientifically correct way,
- Choose and justify the choice of method in the project, within the main area/specialization of the program,
- Contribute to research and development work, and be able to relate his or her work to the relevant scientific and technical/industrial/architectonic contexts,
- With a holistic approach, to identify, formulate and deal with complex issues critically, autonomously and creatively,
- To plan and perform highly qualified tasks using adequate methods within given parameters, and to be capable of critically evaluating this work,
- Create, analyze and critically evaluate different technical/architectonic solutions,
- Integrate knowledge critically and systematically,
- Present clearly and discuss his or her solutions in English, as well as the knowledge and the arguments on which these are based,
- Identify, within the parameters of the specific project, the questions that need to be answered in order for the relevant societal, ethical and ecological aspects to be taken into consideration,
- Take into account and discuss ethical aspects of research and development work, both as regards how the work is to be performed, as well as what is to be investigated/developed
- Identify and discuss the need for additional clarification of various aspects of the project prior to decision and implementation, where relevant.
The learning objectives listed above are based on the following official, central document about evaluation criteria for masters theses:
- Instructions for theses on the Master of Science in Engineering, Architecture and Master of Science Programmes
Timeline for your thesis work
Below, an approximate timeline for a normal 30 hec project. See the workflow page for more detailed information.
- –3 months: Information sessions
- –2 months: Find a thesis topic and contact a supervisor
- –3 weeks: Submit proposal
- ±0 weeks: Start working (assuming that your proposal is approved, and have been assigned examiner and supervisor)
- +2 weeks: Submit planning report, print the work card (available at the Forms and templates page)
- +2-18 weeks: Attend mandatory seminars
- +10 weeks: Submit halftime report
- +19 weeks: Submit thesis to opponent
- +20 weeks: Presentation and opposition
- +22 weeks: Submit final thesis
The final grading for your master’s thesis depends on which university you are studying at:
- Chalmers students can get the grades Pass (G) and Fail (U).
- GU students can get the grades Pass with distinction (VG), Pass (G) and Fail (U).
The roles of the advisor, the supervisor and the examiner
If you choose a project offered by staff from the department, you will have him/her/them as your supervisor(s). If you do your thesis work at a company, the company will provide an advisor. In addition, you will have an academic supervisor from the department. The examiner is yet another person from the department that approves the reports and different steps during your thesis work and sets the final grade.
The industrial adviser is only appointed if you carry out your thesis work outside of the department, for example at a company. In this case the advisor is assigned by the company and they are expected to follow your work on a day by day basis and assist you whenever needed.
The academic supervisor within the department guides you throughout the thesis process, gives feedback and assesses when a thesis report is ready for presentation. For a thesis work within the department, the academic supervisor will have the same role as the external advisor, that is to follow the work on a daily basis. Ideally, you find your academic supervisor already during the process of writing your proposal.
If you have an external advisor then the academic supervisor will monitor your work on a weekly basis and try to assist you on issues where the company can´t be of assistance. It is in collaboration with the academic supervisor that you set up your planning report. In regular, (weekly), intervals you report your progress to him/her. When you are reaching the end of the work the internal supervisor determines when you are ready to present your work and when to hand in your work to the examiner.
The examiner is assigned by the department. The examiner assesses and determines the result of your work in the proposal, halftime seminar and thesis report. He/she will do this based on his/her evaluation and on consulting the academic supervisor. The outcome of these can be:
- Proposal: Approved / Improvement required / Not approved.
- Planning report: Approved / Improvement required / Not approved.
- Halfway presentation and report draft: Approved / Terminated.
- Thesis presentation and report: Pass / Pass after required improvements within a limited period of time / Fail.
- Practical details for the final steps to pass the thesis can be found under 9. on the workflow page.