Master’s thesis guidelines

Master's thesis guidelines (approved in the Degree Programme committee meeting 5.6.2018)

Master's thesis guidelines in Finnish (approved in the Degree Programme committee meeting 5.6.2018)

Master's thesis guidelines (before June 2018)

Master's thesis guidelines in Finnish (before June 2018)

Finding suitable thesis topic and position

  • Material shown in Master's Thesis info session in Spring 2018 during Academic Learning Community course: Master's theses in CHEM

  • When starting the process, first contact your professor(s) and express your need to get your master's thesis started. Professors might already know suitable projects. Make sure you fulfil the prerequisites to start the thesis process. Plan your final studies so that you can stay on schedule with your thesis. Remember to always ensure that your professor approves of your plans before confirming anything regarding the thesis. 

  • Be active! Start thinking about a suitable topic and doing research well ahead. The thesis can be made either for a company or the university, or even abroad. 

  • If you have any company connections, do not hesitate to contact them. It is often easier to hire someone they already know. Follow job advertisements, they might be looking for a master's thesis worker directly or offer a project, for which you can inquire about the possibility of combining a master's thesis to. Write a good general application and CV and tune them to match the position or the company you are applying for. Don't send an open and general application, they do not work very often! If there are not any thesis positions available, contact the companies you are interested in directly, and ask about different possibilities they might have to offer. Suggest topics you find interesting and worth looking into.

  • When a company expresses interest in having you as a diploma worker, contact your professor for further arrangements. As the negotiations with the company proceed, it is good to keep the professor informed on the matter, since you need your professor's approval on the suitability and scope of your topic. 

  • The initial meeting for your thesis is VERY important. It is a meeting between you, the professor and the company representative. Ask for advice for planning it from your supervisor. Before starting your thesis work you need to agree about the schedule, goals, financing and other practical matters, such as the location of your workplace and use of equipments.

Financing your thesis

Working at a company

If a student makes a thesis for a company, the student agrees on the salary of the work with the company themselves. Depending of the thesis, the company pays a compensation to the department (testing costs etc.). Notice that it is always recommended to invite a professor (or another representative of department) to negotiations.

Working at Aalto University

Financing can be arranged via research project (or with scholarship procured by department). In this case, the topic is determined according to the needs of the project, and the salary according to collective agreements. Projects can be inquired from professors (or researchers).


Diploma work can also be funded with a grant. In this case, a company donates the funds through the Foundation for Aalto University Science and Technology. The financing is taxless to you and the company. From the beginning of 2011, the diploma grant can only be given to a person who is a bachelor of science and has been directly approved to the master's programme. When you do your diploma work on a grant, you do not have an employment relationship, which means that you are not tied to working hours or a workplace, and you have no other obligations than to complete your thesis. This means that will not receive any healthcare or other benefits. Naturally you are still able to use services offered to students.

With no funding

You can also do a master's thesis without funding. The topic needs to be discussed with your supervisor, and it is never a company related topic.

Main steps

 Main steps
ScheduleThesis projectAdministrative schedule
Defining the topic

Topic (month 1)

Student proposes a Master's thesis topic ((Student, thesis advisor(s) and supervisor)

See study administration schedule

Master’s thesis guidelines

Kick-off meeting ((Student, thesis advisor(s) and supervisor)

The student applies for a master’s thesis topic in (eAge) from the Degree Programme Committee:

  • topic
  • language
  • advisors
  • supervisor
  • supervisor’s approval of the topic

The Degree Programme Committee approves the topic and the language of the master’s thesis, and appoints a thesis supervisor and one or two thesis advisors for it

  • Topic is valid for one year
Executing  the thesis project
months 1-5The student prepares a research plan for the master’s thesis project
months 1-5Supervision and feedback of the master’s thesis project (thesis advisor(s))
month 1Literature acquisition
month 2-3Experimental works
month 4Collecting the results and writing the experimental part of the report
month 5Completed thesis report
month 5The student submits the complete master’s thesis report for review to the thesis supervisor
month 4-5

The student agrees with the supervisor the schedule of:  

  • maturity essay
  • thesis presentation
  • thesis evaluation

The thesis supervisor reviews the contents of the maturity essay and submits a notification to the Student Services of the degree programme of an approved maturity essay.
months 5-6

The schedule agreed upon with the supervisor

See study administration schedule

The advisor(s) give(s) the thesis advisor’s evaluation form to the supervisor

Feedback discussion: student and supervisor. It is recommended that the thesis advisor(s) is also present.

The student requests evaluation of the master’s thesis (eAge)Application deadline for approval of the thesis is the date the Master’s thesis will be registered to
max. 1 month after request
The thesis supervisor evaluates the master’s thesis and submits a statement on it to the student services

The Degree Programme Committee approves and evaluates the master’s theses

The Student Services of the degree programme informs the student of the decision by the Degree Programme Committee , issues the student with a copy of the thesis supervisor’s statement, and enters the data into student register

Master's thesis process

During the master’s thesis project, the student cooperates with a supervisor and one or two advisors. The student works independently during the thesis project, with the supervisor and advisor(s) offering support; ultimately, the student themselves are responsible for the successful completion of the master’s thesis project.

Thesis supervisor

The master’s thesis supervisor shall be one of the professors of Aalto University as defined in Section 16 of the Aalto University Bylaws. With approval from the professor in charge of the student's major, a professor from another Aalto school can also act as supervisor. For special reasons and by decision of the dean, the thesis supervisor may also be a university lecturer or senior university lecturer of the school (not a docent). At the School of Chemical Engineering, master’s theses may be supervised by adjunct professors, professors of practice and FiDiPro professors, as well as senior university lecturers.

The supervisor ensures that the thesis meets all aims and requirements set by the School of Chemical Engineering. In their final evaluation statement the supervisor evaluates the thesis and suggests a grade.

Thesis advisor

The thesis work may have one or two advisors. The thesis advisor is an expert in the field of the thesis topic and shall hold at least a master’s degree. If the thesis project involves cooperation with a partner, such a private company or other organisation, the advisor normally represents the cooperating partner. The thesis advisor may also be an Aalto University researcher or doctoral student specialising in the field of the thesis.

The advisor’s tasks include giving advice on practical work during the thesis project, as well as instructing on writing the thesis report; however, the advisor is not responsible of grading the master’s thesis. As the advisor typically instructs the student’s work practically on daily basis, they have a good idea on the student’s performance at the workplace. Therefore, the supervisor will often ask the advisor’s opinion on the student’s performance during the master’s thesis project. As theses projects are all different, the roles are not defined in more detail in this document. Nevertheless, it is necessary to discuss and define the division of the duties between the student, the advisor(s), and the supervisor when the thesis project is started. Also, it should be agreed how the student will communicate the progress of the work to the advisor(s) and the supervisor.

Neither the supervisor nor the advisors may be a relative of the student, or biased in any other way. Designation of the thesis supervisor and advisor must be done in compliance with the Aalto University policy on disqualification.

Initial meeting

Before starting your master's thesis, you need your professor's approval on the scope and suitability of your topic. After this, a starting meeting is arranged, to which the supervisor, advisor and possibly the company representative participate in. In this meeting, the schedule, objectives, funding and other practicalities can be discussed and agreed on. Set an appointment with the supervisor for the starting meeting.

Approval of the topic

The degree programme committee of the School of Chemical Engineering approves the topic and the language of the master’s thesis, and appoints a thesis supervisor and one or two thesis advisors for it. Before submitting the application, you need to:

  • be enrolled as an attending student
  • have your B.Sc. degree approved
  • have completed at least 45 ECTS credits towards the master’s degree (40 cr of these studies need to belong to major studies)
  • have your personal study plan (HOPS) for master’s degree studies approved
  • have completed the complementary studies you were assigned when admitted to the study programme

Please note that if the thesis supervisor is not from the School of Chemical Engineering, the professor in charge of the major has to confirm that the topic of the thesis relates to your advanced studies.

  • You will need a written agreement from the supervising professor regarding the topic. This agreement has to be attached to the application in eAge. The agreement is free in form, and can for instance be a screenshot of an email discussion.  Alternatively, you can use a template provided by the school (Master's thesis topic). When using the template, remember that all parties have to sign it. This can be done at the kick-off meeting. It is very important that the approval clearly states the name of the student writing the master's thesis, the name of the supervising professor, and the thesis topic itself. 
  • The topic of the master’s thesis remains valid for one year as of the date of approval. It is good practice to not mention company or brand names in the title, or use any abbreviations (with the exception of well-known abbreviations accepted in standard language).
  • Minor specifications to the topic are allowed after its approval but substancial changes require submitting a new application. All specifications and changes to the topic must be agreed upon with the thesis supervisor. The title of the master’s thesis may be formulated to suit the topic; it does not have to be formulated exactly as it was in the application. The title of the thesis should be clear and as concise as possible.
  • The topic for the master’s thesis project and the completed master’s thesis report cannot be approved at the same meeting of the degree programme committee. 

*)The thesis is written in either Finnish, Swedish or English. The language of the master’s thesis determines the language of the student’s degree, and therefore also the language of the degree certificate. Students writing their master’s thesis in Finnish or Swedish have their language of degree determined accordingly, and receive the official degree certificate in either Finnish or Swedish; an English-language translation of the certificate is included. Students writing their master’s thesis is English will have English as their language of degree and receive the official degree certificate in two languages: English and either Finnish or Swedish.

Preparing a research proposal

When the topic is suitable for a master’s thesis project in the view of the supervisor, the student makes a research proposal in cooperation with the supervisor and the advisor(s).

The research proposal defines, for instance, the following:

  • background, the theoretical framework and research problems
  • objective of the thesis (main objective, interim objectives)
  • research methods
  • timetable and possible budget
  • analysis, synthesis and conclusions

Often the main objective of the thesis is best put in the form of a question. The research problem and questions specify what the work aims to answer. The research proposal should also present some interim goals, for instance, finishing the literature review section, finishing the analysis section, and so forth. The research proposal is reviewed, for instance, in the kick-off meeting with the supervisor and thesis advisor(s)..

The deadline for the master's thesis shall be agreed upon between the thesis supervisor and the student and set at a date that is max. one year from the approval date of the topic.

The school may also organise master’s thesis seminars, which are often associated with the initial stages of the master’s thesis process, for instance with the presentation of research proposals. This allows students to get feedback and guidance from the other participants at the start of the process.

Working on your thesis

When the thesis supervisor and the thesis advisor(s) have approved the research proposal for the master’s thesis, the actual execution of the thesis work starts. The total number of hours to be spent on the master’s thesis is about 800, which is usually about five months. Due to special circumstances, such as student’s personal reasons, other concurrent studies, or the character of the experimental methods, the execution phase may be extended. However, this needs to be agreed upon between the student, supervisor, and advisor(s), preferably already in the kick-off meeting. Moreover, even if the duration of the master’s thesis project is extended, the student’s total workload shall not exceed 800 hours. At the start of the master’s thesis project, students are recommended to focus on the written material so that the earlier research on the topic may best be put to use to support the research. The original research proposal may be modified slightly and specified as the study progresses and usually this is recommended.

Contact between student and the thesis supervisor is usually frequent at the start and end of the research, while contact to the thesis advisor(s) should be frequent throughout the thesis project. The key duty of the thesis supervisor is ensuring that the topic of the thesis is suitable and that the research proposal provides a framework for a successful execution of the thesis. The student may, however, always contact the thesis supervisor if questions arise regarding the progress of the work.

The thesis advisor(s) normally comment the student’s work periodically throughout the thesis project. The student and the advisor(s) can agree on commenting the thesis manuscript, or parts of it, whenever convenient. The thesis advisor(s) should read the manuscript and comment on it in particular in light of the goals set by the target organisation, which they represent. Based on the advisor(s) comments and suggestions, the student works on the manuscript. Once the quality of the manuscript is at the level the student and advisor(s) feel to be suitable, the supervisor will examine the thesis manuscript thoroughly and give the student feedback on the corrections and changes needed. It is also good practice to discuss the learning outcomes and the evaluation criteria of the thesis at this stage. The student must reserve enough time for the examination process: the supervisor should have 2–3 weeks for reading, correcting, and commenting the manuscript.  

When the student has made the corrections and changes suggested by the thesis supervisor, the thesis is resubmitted to the thesis supervisor for approval. The student should work carefully with the manuscript, reacting diligently to all of the supervisor’s comments and aiming at producing a final version of the thesis for this review to avoid multiple correction rounds. When the supervisor has approved the corrections, they will give the student permission to submit the thesis for evaluation and publication.

Because all thesis projects – as well as students, advisors, and supervisors – are different, it is worth noting that the process with the thesis manuscript can be different from the process described above. However, it is good practice to agree upon the practicalities and deadlines with the thesis manuscript already when starting the master’s thesis project.

Electronic version of the master's thesis and online publishing

All master's theses made at the the Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering are stored in electronic format in the publication archive maintained by the Aalto University Learning Centre. For electronic archiving, a copy of the thesis must be submitted in pdf/A format. Please note that only an electronic version of the thesis is needed.

The abstract and so-called meta data of all theses will be published in the Aaltodoc database. Metadata includes the following: name of the author, thesis title (and its translations if required), name of thesis supervisor and advisor as well as key words. All approved theses will be archived in full text in the Aaltodoc publication archive. You can access the Aaltodoc archive at Data of the thesis and the PDF files are also available through the INSSI database.

If you grant permission for publishing, the thesis full text will also be published. Permission to publish is given on the electronic thesis approval application form. If you wish, you can postpone the date of publishing by a maximum of one (1) year from the date of thesis approval, i.e. the date of the committee meeting. Hence, you can delay the publishing for reasons related to other publications, patent applications or corporate secrets, for example. Please note, however, that regardless of any delay in the electronic publication, the thesis becomes a public document immediately after its approval and will as such be available as a electronic copy at the Aalto University Learning Centre to anyone interested.

If you choose not to give permission for electronic publishing, the full text of your master's thesis will be only available offline at Aalto University internal network, currently at some Aalto University Learning Centre workstations.

Storing the thesis in pdf/A format

Name the PDF file according to the following: short name of your School_year of publishing_your last name_your first name.pdf (e.g. chem_2020_last name_first name.pdf.)

Please observe the following:

  • Form a separate table of contents from the headings and create internal links from the table of contents to the beginning of each chapter (. Microsoft Word 2010: References- Table of Contents – Insert table of contents – under web preview window mark  use hyperlinks instead of page numbers --ok)
  • Check that printing is allowed (enable printing)
  • Submit possible multimedia material (sound, video) in separate files in connection with the actual text file. The multimedia files must be linked to the PDF file through external links, hence they should not be included in the PDF file
  • Convert the PDF file so that it is suitable for web publishing

Converting the word document into a PDF file

 There are several ways to convert a Word file into a PDF/A file, here are couple of instructions:

  • Microsoft Word 2010: File » Save As ---> Save as type = PDF ---> Options ---> Choose: ISO 19005-1-compliant (PDF/A)
  • PDF-XChange 4.0: Print ---> PDF-XChange 4.0 ---> Properties ---> General ---> Choose: PDF/A-1b (RGB)
  • Open Office 3.2 Writer: File ---> Export as PDF ---> Choose: PDF/A-1a
  • Adobe Acrobat:  File- save as Adobe pdf-file - options - create PDF/A-1a:2005 compliant file - ok – save

After pdf/A conversion, it is the student's responsibility to check that the file has been correctly converted.

N.B. The size of the file should not exceed 5M because very large PDF files won't open easily for readers online.

Presenting the master's thesis

The master’s thesis process also includes presentation of the finished thesis at a time agreed upon with the thesis supervisor. The presentation, or event of similar kind, to showcase the thesis must be held before submitting the application for approval and evaluation of the master’s thesis.

Maturity essay

The student must write a maturity essay to demonstrate conversance with the field of the thesis (and possibly proficiency in the language they have been educated in (Finnish or Swedish).

The maturity essay may be

  • an essay written on a topic given by the thesis supervisor and written under supervision.
  • a press release (only when the language proficiency is not needed)

The maturity essay must be approved and registered before submitting the application for approval and evaluation of the master’s thesis.

The contents of the maturity essay are reviewed by the thesis supervisor, while its language (if Finnish or Swedish) is evaluated by the Language Centre, provided that the student has not demonstrated the requisite language proficiency in a maturity essay written for the bachelor’s degree. The language of the maturity essay may be failed if it does not meet the degree requirements.

Students are to reserve about 14 days for the language check from the date of receipt of the text by the Language Centre. The maturity essay is graded on a pass/fail basis, and its grade does not affect the grade of the master’s thesis. A failed maturity essay may be retaken.

If the student is not required to demonstrate language proficiency in Finnish or Swedish, the maturity essay may be written in the language that was approved for the master’s thesis. The requirement of a maturity essay also applies to international students, who usually write their maturity essays in English. Maturity essays written in other languages than Finnish or Swedish are only subjected to a review of the contents, not of the language.

Maturity essay forms:

EnglishFinnish or Swedish

Press release

The press release can be written when all the major research findings of the thesis are ready to be presented. The release is written in the language of the master’s thesis.

Agree on the press release schedule with your supervisor as the press release must be approved as a maturity test and registered before applying for approval of your thesis. Your supervisor will review the press release, and the approved press release will be registered into Oodi as a maturity test.

With your permission, the press release will be published in the programme’s Into pages and the two-sentence summary will be posted on the school's Facebook-page ( with a link to the full press release in Into. We encourage you to share your MSc thesis highlights within the Aalto community and beyond.

If you allow us to publish your press release, send the press release to at the same time as you send it to your supervisor for approval. Please state clearly that you give the permission to publish your press release.

NOTE! If you have completed your comprehensive and/or upper secondary education (peruskoulu ja/tai lukio) in Finland and your Bachelor´s degree abroad, please contact your programme Study Coordinator. In this case, you need to write a different kind of maturity test because of the Finnish/Swedish language requirements.

Press release instructions in Finnish

 How to write a press release?

How to write a press release?

A press release is a short and concise text, in which you summarise the key results and conclusions of your master’s thesis. The audience of the press release is media and journalists, who can write a piece of news based on the text, thus distributing the information to the public. Write the press release in popular style: only expressions and terminology, which are understood by the general public, should be used. The maximum length of a press release is one A4 page. Write also a two-sentence summary, which will be used to promote your work in the social media (e.g. Facebook pages of Aalto CHEM).

First things first

In the press release, present the most important information first; do not include anything irrelevant in the text. Use these questions for testing:

  • What was done, and by whom?
  • Where was it done?
  • Which were the key results?
  • Which are the possible applications of the results?
  • For whom was the work done – who benefited from it?
  • What was the starting point of the study?
  • How was the work executed?
  • Who can be contacted for further details?

NOTE: As companies finance many of the theses, before writing the press release you must obtain written approval from the company that their name can be mentioned in the text.


Write a short and concise headline, which describes the most important result or achievement of your thesis work. Do not use your thesis title as the headline!


The first paragraph of the press release is the introduction: here you summarise the essential message. In the introduction, give more details on the message of the headline: the introduction should concisely point out the objectives and main findings of the thesis, and the resulting advantages. The introduction should attract the reader’s attention, so that she/he continues reading the whole text.

Body of the press release

The subsequent paragraphs after the introduction form the body of the text. In this part, you describe the background of your work and give further details on the topic and results. Note, however, that the body must not be identical to the thesis abstract.

In the body, you should concisely report the most important findings and conclusions of your work. What are the implications of the results, and whom or what do they affect? How were the thesis objectives reached? Why is the thesis topic important right now? The media is normally not very interested in the methods utilised during the thesis execution, so provide these type of details only at the end of the text.

If needed, add sub-headings in the press release. Divide the text clearly into paragraphs and write complete sentences. Use clear and simple structures in the sentences, helping the reader grasp what you mean. The reader should correctly understand the message of a well-written press release even if she/he reads it only once!


Write the press release in a formal and neutral style, yet make use of illustrative and clear language. Remember that this text should reflect your level of professionalism so avoid grammatical and orthographical errors. Explain any professional terms or otherwise complicated concepts, and give clarifying examples when necessary.

Dedicate each paragraph for presenting only one subject or theme, and proceed from familiar concepts towards lesser known ones.

Write the press release in the language of the master’s thesis.

Further details

At the end of the press release, give your contact information so that the media has a possibility to interview you for further details:

  • Your full name
  • Your degree and study programme & major subject
  • Email address
  • Your home organisation (Aalto University, School of Chemical Engineering) and possible other contacts
  • Details on the availability of the thesis (e.g. publication date, website)

Evaluation and approval of the master's thesis

Master's thesis evaluation guidelines and typical characterisation of theses grades

Statement template for thesis supervisor

Master's thesis evaluation guidelines and typical characterisation of theses grades (in Finnish)

Statement template for thesis supervisor (in Finnish)

When evaluating the thesis, these general principles apply:

  1. Officially, the Degree Programme Committee gives the thesis grade, based on an evaluation report written by the thesis supervisor.
  2. The evaluation covers the entire student’s work during the whole thesis project; hence, it is not sufficient to evaluate the thesis report only.
  3. The student’s development during the master’s thesis project is evaluated in the light of the learning outcomes, which are reflected in the evaluation criteria.
  4. Only aspects, which are dependent on the student, can have an effect on the evaluation and grading. This means, for example, that if the thesis is delayed due to unexpected reasons, which the student cannot control (e.g. production stoppage at a factory, delayed service for broken laboratory equipment), the delay must not affect the thesis grade.
  5. The thesis report is a document produced by the student; hence, the advisors’ and the supervisor’s role is to instruct the student on how to improve the quality of the text, not to rewrite the report. The legibility and quality of the student’s written communication is one of the evaluation criteria for the thesis. Based on this, it is neither justified to require that an external professional proofread the thesis manuscript before its evaluation.

The learning outcomes of the thesis, as well as the evaluation criteria and the minimum criteria for each grade, shall be presented at the kick-off meeting of the master’s thesis project. The thesis supervisor is responsible of ensuring that the thesis advisor is aware of the evaluation criteria of the Aalto master’s theses, particularly in cases where the student performs their work outside Aalto University.

The evaluation and approval of a completed master's thesis is applied for with an electronic form through eAge. Please note that the thesis you upload in the eAge-system should be the same as the version you return to your supervisor for evaluation.

After submission of the thesis, the supervisor has to give their evaluation report within four weeks. With this in mind, students should consider carefully into which of the Degree Programme Committee meetings they are submitting their thesis for approval. The meeting dates are listed here.

The thesis supervisor’s evaluation report shall follow the Master's thesis evaluation guidelines, including a written statement on the thesis with a proposal for a grade. The supervisor submits this examiner’s report to the Degree Programme Committee. When preparing the report, the supervisor requests statement(s) from the thesis advisor(s). It is also highly recommended that the supervisor, advisor(s), and the student have a meeting on the evaluation, where the supervisor justifies the given grade, based on the evaluation criteria. In cases where the supervisor has proposed the grade of ‘excellent’ (5), ‘satisfactory’ (1), or ‘fail’, the Degree Programme Committee shall, when possible, consult a university professor, adjunct professor, professor of practice, FiDiPro professor  or senior university lecturer with expertise in the research field when deciding on the grade. Having familiarized itself with the examiner’s report and any additional statements, the Degree Programme Committee shall decide on the approval of the thesis and on its grading. If the Degree Programme Committee does not approve the thesis or grade it, the application is returned to the student.

Students who fail to submit the master’s thesis for examination by the deadline shall submit a new thesis topic application to the school. Since delay in the writing process may lower the grade, students are advised against delaying the thesis writing by taking up other commitments before the thesis is ready.

Grade appeals

Students dissatisfied with the grade of their thesis may appeal against the decision in writing to the Aalto University Academic Appeals Board within 14 days of receiving notification of the decision. The appeal shall arrive at the university before the closing time of the Registry (at 15.00) on the deadline date.

If the student is notified of the decision by an electronic message (by e-mail), the notification is deemed to have been received by the student on the third (3) day after mailing, unless proven otherwise. If the student is notified of the decision by mail, the notification is deemed to have been received by the student on the seventh (7) day after mailing unless proven otherwise.

The appeal is addressed to the Aalto University Academic Appeals Board to:

The Aalto University Academic Appeals Board, Registry, P.O. Box 11000, FI-00076 AALTO

The appeal must specify the following: 1. student name and contact information (address, e-mail address and telephone number) 2. information of when the student was notified of the decision and 3. decision (incl. name of thesis and name of person responsible for grading), 4. the change sought with the appeal, 5. grounds for the appeal (copies of documents on which the student bases their appeal, if not already submitted to Aalto University).

General instructions on writing the thesis report

Aalto University Language Centre offers a Writing Clinic service for students to help with academic English. 

Turnitin is a help for skilful writing and prevention of plagiarism.


The correct layout and font settings give a text a clean, easily legible and correctable form. Guideline for written reports can be used for help (NB. guidelines are not written specifically for thesis and e.g. do not mention preface).

  • Use an easily legible basic font such as Calibri or Arial. Use a single column and line spacing 1.5 and justify the text. Set the left margin to 3.5 cm and others to 3 cm. Place the page numbering in the bottom margin and start numbering on the introduction page. In the index, align the headings to the left and the page numbers to the right. All numbers are written in Arabic numerals unless instructed otherwise.
  • The title is written in font size 16, bolded and justified. The main heading for each chapter are written in font size 14, sub-headings in size 12 and the body text in size 12 (Calibri) or 11 (Arial). In chapter headings, use spacing 36 above the heading and 24 below it. In sub-headings use the spacing 24 above the heading and spacing 12 after it.
  • You may start a new chapter either in the middle of a page or always on a new page. Do not start subheadings on a new page. Only the heading of a chapter cannot be on a different page than the following text. Always leave a blank line between paragraphs and start the text from the start of the line. Figures, tables, schemes and equations are separated from the text with one blank line on each side.

General structure of master's thesis

Title page



Table of Contents

List of the symbols and abbreviations

  • The list of symbols and abbreviations explains those abbreviations, symbols and terms which are not common knowledge. The symbols and abbreviations used must be explained when they are mentioned for the first time even if the symbol and abbreviation list was provided.


  • Background for the research question: motivation, focus, aims, hypotheses.

Literature review

  • Should support solving the research question: understanding the system, learning from others and their research methodologies. Should also be critical and analytical.


  • Exact description of the experimental methods applied (to be repeated by anyone else).

Results and discussion

  • Exact and concise presentation, with focus on the main results (not individual observations).
  • Error analysis and reliability of the results, connections to earlier literature.


  • Relative to the research question
  • Claims on novelty and suggestions for further research



Publicity and copyright of the master's thesis report

The master’s thesis report is a public document which shall be available at the school (Degree Regulations of the Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering). Issues related to the copyright of the master’s thesis report are resolved in accordance with the general copyright legislation, and inventions made during the master’s thesis process are solved in accordance with valid patent legislation.

The master’s thesis report is a public document usually not covered by confidentiality provisions; hence, information, which is not seen as covered by the principle of openness and cannot be regarded public, must not be included in the master’s thesis report. The thesis may, however, include information about trade or business secrets, patentable inventions etc. In such cases, the author of the thesis and the thesis advisor(s) must agree upon the details included in the master’s thesis.

Aalto University has made a contract template to be used when students agree upon making a master’s thesis with an external collaboration organisation. It should particularly be noted that the contract is always made between the student and the external organisation and it should be communicated to the thesis supervisor. The contract includes, for instance, provisions on the copyrights of the thesis.

Study and educational projects – contracts with organisations outside Aalto University


You can apply for the approval and evaluation of the master's thesis and for the master's degree graduation at the same time, if all the studies for your Master's degree have been completed and registered. For more information, please see Graduation.

Applications and forms