Instructions for students of majors
- Bioinformatis and Digital Health
- Biomedical Engineering
- Biosensing and Bioelectronics
- Complex Systems
- Human Neuroscience and Technology
is available on MyCourses at https://mycourses.aalto.fi/course/view.php?id=19277. Please note, when reading the instructions! Biosensing and Bioelectronics major students do not need to write press release as abstract of the master's thesis will be approved as a maturity test starting of autumn semester 2019.
Master’s thesis guidelines
Finding suitable thesis topic and position
- 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. Check with your future supervisor (usually your major's professor), that you have the required prerequisites to start the thesis. Plan your final studies so that you can stay on schedule and they support the upcoming diploma work.
- Remember to always talk to your professor and get his approval before making any promises to anyone about the thesis.
- Be active! Start your search well before the deadline, preferably several months before the planned time of starting the thesis work.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Thesis can also be made abroad, either to a company or another university.
- 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.
- You will need your professors approval on the suitability and scope of your topic.
- 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.
- It takes about 800 hours of full time work to write the thesis.
- 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 thesis supervisor.
The language of the Master’s thesis affects the language of the degree. Please note that if you choose to do your thesis in Finnish or in Swedish, the language of the degree is in that case Finnish or Swedish. In this case, the student will receive a Finnish-language diploma or a Swedish-language diploma and its translation in English. If you do your Master’s thesis in English, the language of the degree is English. In this case the student will receive both a Finnish-language diploma or a Swedish-language diploma and an English-language diploma.
Financing your thesis
Working in a company
If a student makes a thesis for a company, student him/herself agrees the salary of the work with the company. 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 stipendum. 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 stipendum, 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.
|Schedule||Thesis project||Administrative schedule|
|Defining the topic|
Topic (month 1)
Student proposes a Master's thesis topic ((Student, thesis advisor(s) and supervisor)
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:
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
|Executing the thesis project|
|months 1-5||The student prepares a research plan for the master’s thesis project|
|months 1-5||Supervision and feedback of the master’s thesis project (thesis advisor(s))|
|month 1||Literature acquisition|
|month 2-3||Experimental works|
|month 4||Collecting the results and writing the experimental part of the report|
|month 5||Completed thesis report|
|month 5||The student submits the complete master’s thesis report for review to the thesis supervisor|
The student agrees with the supervisor the schedule of:
|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.|
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 during the thesis project independently, with the supervisor and advisor(s) offering support; ultimately, the student her/himself is responsible for the successful completion of the master’s thesis project.
The master’s thesis supervisor shall be one of the professors of Aalto University as defined in Section 16 of the Aalto University Bylaws. For special reasons and by decision of the dean, the thesis supervisor may also be another professor, 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 his/her statement the supervisor evaluates the thesis and suggests a grade.
The thesis work may have one or two advisors. 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 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, she/he has a good idea on the student’s performance at the workplace. Therefore, the supervisor will ask the advisor’s opinion on the student’s performance during the master’s thesis project. As the thesis 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, available on Inside.
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 thesis supervisor for the starting meeting.
Approval of the topic
The degree programme committee of the Life Science Technologies 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 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.
Master’s theses topic applications will be submitted for approval electronically. The form includes the details of the thesis supervisor and those of thesis advisor(s), and the language of the master’s thesis*. Fill in the application form according to the study administration schedule.
- Written agreement in the electronic application: Agree on the topic with the supervisor and sign a written agreement (attachment to the application). The agreement is free in form, for instance you can use an example form provided by the School (Master's thesis topic). It is recommended to organise a starting meeting with the supervisor (and possible the advisor) and sign the agreement at the end of the meeting. Please note that abbreaviations and company names are not allowed on the title of the thesis.
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 or use any abbreviations in the topic (with the exception of well-known abbreviations accepted in standard language).
Since minor specifications to the topic are allowed after its approval but major 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.
It should be noted that 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 thesis 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. As a default, the duration of the execution phase should be ca. five months. Due to special circumstances, such as student’s personal reasons – e.g. 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.
Contacts between student and the thesis supervisor are usually frequent at the start and end of the research, while contacts 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 the 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 a good practice also at this stage to discuss the learning outcomes and the evaluation criteria of the thesis. 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, she/he 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 https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi. 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_2013_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 similar event to showcase the thesis has to be held before the master’s thesis is approved and evaluated.
You will complete the maturity test by writing a press release on your master’s thesis. 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.Press release template
Evaluation and approval of the master's thesis
Evaluation guidelines for those theses, whose topic has been approved in a Degree Programme Committee meeting after 1.8.2018:
Statement template for thesis supervisor (in Finnish)
Evaluation guidelines for those theses, whose topic has been approved in a Degree Programme Committee meeting before 1.8.2018:
Master's thesis evalution guidelines (in Finnish)
Evaluation form (in Finnish)
When evaluating the thesis, these general principles apply:
- Officially, the Degree Programme Committee gives the thesis grade, based on an evaluation report written by the thesis supervisor.
- The evaluation covers the entire student’s work during the whole thesis project; hence, it is not sufficient to evaluate the thesis report only.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 her/his 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 her/his 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.
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 his/her 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).
A customary layout is presented below:
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
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.
- 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.
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. For more information, please see .
Applications and forms
- Approval of the Master’s thesis topic, supervisor, advisor and language (eAge)
- Application for master’s thesis approval and electronic archiving (eAge)
- Abstract form in English, Finnish and Swedish
- Maturity essay in English, Finnish or Swedish