Guidelines for Master Thesis Proposals
In order to start a MSc thesis project, we would like you to write a thesis proposal which describes your project. The goal is to ensure that both student and supervisor have the same ideas about the content and commitments (from both sides) regarding the project. University-wide guidelines for the content of such a propposal are in progress but until these are finished, the SERG
group uses its own guidelines which are based on an initial draft of the joint effort.
Your thesis proposal should contain the following parts:
- synopsis of the project
- a short introduction into the subject
- discussion of the (initial) research question(s) that will be addressed,
- the (scientific/societal) motivation for the particular project
- an initial planning and staging of the project (what are the important milestones/when do you expect to reach them, when will you start/end etc.)
- a risk analysis, or those (external) events that could have an impact on your planning
- expected deliverables (what will result from the project, e.g., a prototype of a piece of software, an algorithm, an advice on how to treat a particular problem, a documented architecture, ...)
- contact details for the participants (student, supervisor, and when appropriate also the company supervisor)
- supervision details: generally an n-weekly schedule for meetings to discuss findings and progress that you've established togerther with your university (and company) supervisor(s).
- (when appropriate) details regarding intellectual property and allowance (sometimes these are arranged in a separate legal contract)
- list of courses that still need to be followed and/or final exams that need to be taken (not so much as guard for entering the thesis phase but to document a potential impact on the planning)
Preferably the proposal is written in English so other students can read, and build on, your work. In addition, when written in English, parts (a) - (d) of your proposal can often be reused/extended for your final report. It is important to note that the details and planning are not cast in stone for the complete duration of the thesis project. If initial results show that there are good reasons to improve on the initial ideas, then all plans can be changed. In such a case, the proposal can be updated and serve as a track record that documents and motivates such changes.
Below you'll find a couple of examples of proposals by other students (with contact details removed). Note that most of these proposals were written before the guidelines described here were at their current state. Consequently, not all parts described may be addressed in the examples. In general, for all given proposals the planning could have been a bit more detailed, esp. the steps to be taken in the first weeks. However, the concrete planning is also something which we will discuss in more detail in our supervisor meetings.