General about the master’s thesis
A master’s thesis is usually written on a topic relating to the student’s major subject, under the supervision of the major subject’s professor. The thesis work must also have one or two advisors, who must have at least a master's level degree. The supervisor of the thesis may also act as the advisor. Neither the supervisor nor the advisor may be a relative of the student, or biased in any other way.
The Degree programme committee approves the topic of the thesis and appoints a supervisor and advisor(s). The thesis is approved and graded in the Degree programme committee as well. Both the approval of the topic and approval of the thesis must be applied for in writing.
Writing a master’s thesis usually takes from six months to one year.
When and how to start?
It is advisable to start the process in good time, for example in the autumn of the second year of studies.
First you should find yourself a topic. The topic can be suggested by a company or by a research project in the School of Science. You may also choose a topic which interests you.
When you have found yourself a topic and it has begun to take shape, you can contact a professor of your major. You should prepare yourself for the appointment: you can, for example, draw up a preliminary plan on your thesis or write down your ideas. If the professor is willing to supervise your thesis, you can apply for approval of the topic.
Approval of the topic
You can apply for approval of the topic when the following requirements are met:
- Your B.Sc. degree has been approved (N.B.: students with an AMK degree can apply for approval of the topic only after they have completed the complementary studies).
- You have completed at least 45 credit points towards the master’s degree.
- Your personal study plan (HOPS) for master degree studies is approved.
Fill in the form Request for approval of master’s thesis topic (form 206), have it signed by your supervisor and submit it to the Degree programme office (room C211) by the deadline.
You will be informed by email when your topic has been approved.
The topic of the master’s thesis is valid for one year from the date of approval (Degree programme committee meeting date). If the thesis work is not submitted for evaluation during that period, the topic expires and must be applied for again. If the topic, supervisor, and advisor have not changed, the topic can be fast-track re-approved by contacting the supervisor. The supervisor submits a recommendation for re-approval to the degree program office, and the topic is re-approved in the next possible meeting of the degree program committee. The re-approval process can only take place once. If there are changes to the topic, supervisor, or advisor of the thesis, the topic must be re-approved the same way it was done the first time: that is, by submitting to the degree program office an application signed by the supervisor. It is the student’s responsibility to verify that the topic of the thesis work is valid when the thesis is submitted for evaluation.
While working on your thesis
When working on your thesis, it is advisable to keep in regular touch with your supervisor. Your supervisor may ask you to report on the progress of the work, and you can also ask him to give feedback on your work.
When your thesis is finished
When your thesis is finished or nearly finished, you must give a thesis presentation and write a maturity essay.
When both you and your supervisor agree that your thesis is finished, you can have your thesis bound, and apply for having it approved and graded.
Maturity essay (or maturity test) is an essay you write on a topic given by your supervisor. The supervisor provides one to three topics related to your thesis, and you write an essay on one of them. The essay is graded pass of fail, and the grade does not affect the grading of the thesis. If you do not pass the maturity essay, you can write it again. When the supervisor has read your essay, he/she sends it to the Degree programme office for recording in Oodi.
The maturity essay is written to demonstrate your familiarity with the subject of the thesis work. It also aims to show that you are able to express yourself clearly and logically. A maturity essay is a compulsory component of the thesis, and your thesis cannot be graded without it.
A thesis presentation is a 20-minute oral presentation you give on your thesis topic. A presentation is a compulsory component of a thesis as well. It is graded pass or fail, and it does not directly affect the grade of the thesis. Arrange the time and place of the presentation with your supervisor. After you have given the presentation, your supervisor signs the Thesis presentation form and either gives it to you for submitting to the degree programme office, or submits it him-/herself along with the thesis statement. Thesis presentations are not recorded in Oodi.
Maturity tests and thesis presentations in the spring term 2016
Dates for maturity tests and thesis presentations are available at http://cs.aalto.fi/en/studies/maturity_tests_days/. NB: the dates concern only students whose supervisor is from the Department of Computer Science. If you supervisor is from another department, agree on the maturity essay directly with him/her.
When your supervisor gives you permission to write the maturity essay, enroll to Tiina Hartikainen (email@example.com) a week before the maturity test a the latest. The following information must be given:
- date of maturity test
- your name
- name of your supervisor
- topic of your thesis
Agree on the presentation (time) with your supervisor, and enroll to Tiina Hartikainen (firstname.lastname@example.org) a week before the presentation at the latest. When enrolling, the following information must be given:
- date and place of the presentation
- your name
- name of your supervisor
- topic of your thesis
Before the occasion, please read the instructions for the presentation (pdf.)
Maturity tests in the autumn term 2015
NB: the below dates concern only students whose supervisor is from the Department of Computer Science. If you supervisor is from another department, agree on the maturity essay directly with him/her.
|Date and time||Place|
|Wed 16 December at 9 - 12||1021-1022 (TUAS)|
Thesis presentations in the autumn term 2015
NB: the below dates concern only students whose supervisor is from the Department of Computer Science. If you supervisor is from another department, agree on the thesis presentation directly with him/her.
|Date and time||Place|
|Mon 14 December at 14 - 17||A106 (T)|
|Tue 15 December at 14 - 17||3550 (TUAS)|
|Wed 16 December at 14 - 17||A346 (T)|
Approval and grading of the thesis
- Once your thesis is finished, agree on the inspection schedule with the professor (please note that the supervisor has one month to evaluate and grade the thesis after you have submitted the thesis book to him/her, unless you agree on something else).
- Write the maturity essay.
- Give the thesis presentation.
- Submit to the degree programme office the application for approval and grading of the thesis (electronically via the eAge system: form 207) and one thesis book.
- You are required to submit two books in all: one to the supervisor and the other to the degree programme office. The book submitted to the degree programme office will be delivered to the library after the approval.
The Degree Programme Committee approves and grades the thesis on grounds of the statement(s) given by the supervisor and the advisor. In his/her statement the supervisor evaluates your thesis and suggests a grade.
You will be informed on the decision of the DPC via eAge and by email.
Submitting an electronic version of your thesis and the thesis approval form electronically through the eAge system
- Fill in the application form according to the instructions given in eAge and upload the final version (identical to the hardbound copies) of your thesis into the system.
- The file must be saved in PDF/A format. PDF/A is suitable for long-term storing of the file. A PDF/A file includes all the information needed for saving the visual layout. PDF/A files are stripped-down of all qualities which cannot be archived safely, such as scripts, tones, live pictures, encryption and hyperlinks to other documents. The Library recommends versions PDF/A-1a, PDF/A-1b ja PDF/A-2, which are standardized by ISO. Printing of the file must always be allowed in PDF-conversion. If the thesis document has been created using a LaTeX programme, save the file in normal PDF format.
- Name the file without Scandinavian letters (e.g. ä and ö) and special characters to the following format: school's abbreviation_publishingyear_lastname_firstname.pdf (example: sci_2013_lastname_firstname.pdf).
- Instructions for saving a PDF/A-file (the instructions are originally for students of ELEC, but are applicable for other schools as well).
Electronic version of the master's thesis and publishing it online
The so-called metadata (i.e. name of the author, title of the thesis, name of the thesis supervisor and advisor as well as key words) of each thesis will be published in the INSSI database. All approved theses are archived in full text in the Aaltodoc publication archives. You can access the Aaltodoc archives at https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi . Data of the thesis and the PDF files are also available through the INSSI database.
The thesis abstract and/or full text are also published, if you give permission for publishing. Permission for electronic publishing is given/denied on the electronic application form. The date of publishing can be postponed by a maximum of one year from the date of thesis approval, i.e. the date of the committee meeting. Hence, the thesis does not need to be published immediately, if you wish to postpone the publishing for reasons related to other publications, patent applications or trade secrets, for example. However, you should still keep in mind that the thesis is always a public document, and a hardbound copy of the thesis will be displayed after thesis approval in the library.
If you choose not to give permission for electronic publishing, only library staff will have access to the archived PDF file; it will not be available for anyone else.
Application due dates
The applications for both the thesis topic approval and for thesis approval and grading must reach your degree programme office by the due date. The due date is two weeks before each Degree programme committee meeting. Applications received after the due date will be dealt with in the next committee meeting. The Degree programme committee strives to meet during the term (August-May).
*For further information, please see page Graduation
Degree Programme Committee meetings and deadlines for applications
Degree Programme Committee of Computer, Communication and Information Sciences: (FAdCo, Macadamia, Mobile Computing, SDE, ICT Innovation, and NordSecMob)
|Deadline for applications||Approved maturity essay, |
notification of a given thesis presentation,
and thesis book in the degree programme
|Degree Programme Committee Meeting|
|5 October||12 October||19 October|
|25 November||7 December||14 December|
|4 January||11 January|
|1 February||8 February||15 Feburary|
|21 March||28 March||4 April|
|25 April||2 May||9 May|
|30 May||6 June||13 June|
|10 August||17 August||24 August|
Degree Programme Committee of Life Science Technologies (MBI, euSYSBIO, Brain & Mind):
|Deadline for applications|
Approved maturity essay,
|Degree Programme Committee meeting|
|13 August||21 August||27 August|
|17 September||24 September||1 October|
|22 October||29 October||5 November|
|26 November||3 December||10 December|
|4 February 2016||11 February 2016||18 February 2016|
|14 April||21 April||28 April|
|19 May||26 May||2 June|
Thesis book – abstract page, spacing, font etc.
A master’s thesis can be printed on one or both sides of the paper. If the thesis is extensive (for example more than 100 pages), duplex printing is recommended, though. There are no rules on spacing and font of the thesis.
A master’s thesis must be bound on black covers. See instructions on casing-in.
Publicity of the master's thesis
According to Finnish legislation, a master's thesis is a public document and its contents cannot be confidential. Therefore, the material of the thesis must be chosen so that it does not include any information that could be classified as a business secret of the financing company.
Appealing against a grade
A student dissatisfied with the grading of a thesis may apply for a rectification of the decision in writing from Aalto University Degree Committee (Aalto-yliopiston tutkintolautakunta) within 14 days of receiving the notification of the decision. The appeal letter must be received by the Aalto University Registry no later than on the last day of the appeal period before the closing time (3 p.m.) of the Registry.
The address of the Aalto University Degree Committee is:
The following must appear on the letter of appeal:
- Name and address, email address and telephone number of the student.
- The date when the student received the decision.
- The decision concerned (including the name of the thesis and the maker of the grading decision).
- The correction requested.
- The grounds for the appeal (including copies of the documents on which the student relies in support of his appeal, unless these have already been delivered to Aalto University).
- Tips for writing the master’s thesis
- Need help with your academic writing in English? Writing clinic - Individual tutoring sessions (Language Centre)
- Guidelines for Master's Thesis evaluation and appendix
- Positions for Master's Thesis workers at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering -> careers
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