Thesis | Internship

The Master thesis tracking form (PDF, 284KB) has to be sent to the studies coordinator at the very beginning of the master thesis. i.e. as soon as the topic and formalities have been clarified.

The master thesis proposal has to be submitted within the first six weeks of your project, that is, after you have read up about the topic and have a concept. The proposal must include about 4-6 pages of actual content, plus a timeline; see the examples from the first-year Climate Sciences Seminar. It seems important to us that the concept is as concrete as possible, e.g., with clear research questions, hypotheses, core versus extra tasks, data used, study site and period, mathematical formulas, laboratory equipment, experimental setup, statistical and visualization software, other tools, anticipated key figures and tables, .... and create a weekly schedule that takes into account vacations, work, courses, exams, etc. However, the actual structure, scope, length, level of detail and content may vary from one supervisor to the other. Be sure to discuss the proposal with and get feedback from your committee (supervisor, co-supervisor, advisors). The proposal must be approved and signed by your principal supervisor.

As a general rule, two or more persons are needed to supervise a master thesis. They form the supervising committee and have different roles:

  • The first role is the supervisor. She/he needs to be a member of the supervising faculty (see list, refer also to RSL 18, Art. 21).
  • The second role is the co-supervisor. Co-supervisors must also be members of the supervising faculty.
  • The third role is the advisor. Advisors are significantly involved in the supervision of the master thesis (e.g. a PhD student or a PostDoc from the supervisor's research unit). They do not have to meet any special requirements.

You need at least one but can have more more than one co-supervisor or advisor. One of them must be independent from the supervisor to ensure a four-eyes principle of supervision.

It is possible to propose persons from outside the supervising faculty as co-supervisors. They need a special appointment from the Dean of the Faculty of Science; the studies director will organize this. Eligible are only persons with qualifications equal to those of the supervising faculty; i.e. they must have teaching experience, conduct research, head a research group, or similar. Please send the Application (PDF, 326KB) form provided by the Faculty of Sciences to the studies directorate of the Graduate School, and include a short CV (two pages) of the proposed committee member.

The master thesis evaluation must be signed by the supervisor and the co-supervisor(s), if applicable, but not by advisors (cf. FAQ on the master thesis evaluation). Also note that the thesis (co-)supervisors are examiners at the master examination, but cannot be the chair of the exam.

Master theses can encompass 30 ECTS (plus an internship) or 60 ECTS, see the full information. A master thesis of 30 ECTS (60 ECTS) corresponds to 5 to 5.5 months (10 to 11 months) of net work full-time, without vacations and without attending lectures or other coursework. This means that in practice, a master thesis of 30 ECTS takes 6 months to complete, and a master thesis of 60 ECTS takes 11 to 12 months. Included here are activities such reading about the topic, writing a proposal, and participation in group meetings, colloquia etc. You are asked to provide a weekly timeline with the thesis proposal (see the examples from the Graduate Seminar), including holidays, breaks, employments, and other tasks. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to add enough buffer.

Yes, as an option, the master thesis may be written in the form of a research article (ready for publication; see Art. 20, Para. 7 of the studies program 2023). In this case, the thesis must contain an accompanying text (RSL Art 51.3) which summarizes and comments the manuscript. This is the same for a PhD thesis. In multi-authored manuscripts, the text must clarify in detail which parts of the manuscript were elaborated by the candidate (author contribution). The accompanying text also reports on all parts of the MSc thesis project that are not included in the manuscript.
In any case, the thesis must contain the master thesis declaration signed by the author, and the title page must at least contain the elements given in the template.

Once you have finished the master thesis, your supervisor and co-supervisor write the master thesis evaluation including the grade (see next FAQ). It is your responsibility to make sure the supervisors send (i) the evaluation (scan) to the Dean's Office and to the studies directorate of the Graduate School and (ii) an authorization for publication of the master thesis on the internet to the studies directorate. It is also the students' duty to send a PDF of the master thesis to (a) the studies directorate and (b) to the Dean's Office. The studies directorate will insert the grade into KSL/CTS. After approx. ten days (referendum deadline), the grade will be visible in KSL. Important: The master thesis declaration as provided on the documents webpage must be included in the master thesis. Please refer also to the guidelines by the Dean's Office.

The master thesis evaluation is written by the thesis supervisor and the co-supervisor. The length of the evaluation is typically one page and the text consists of a short summary of the thesis, of an assessment of the scientific and formal quality of all parts, and of the final grade. The preferred language of the evaluation is English. Optionally, a leaflet for the evaluation can be found here. Important: Both supervisor and co-supervisor must sign the evaluation, but not any other person (e.g. the advisor).

The internship (30 ECTS, see guidelines) is part of the studies program and replaces half of the MSc thesis work (30 ECTS of 60 ECTS). The internship does therefore not extend the duration of the studies. No salaries are paid for the MSc thesis. The same holds for the internship (from the side of the Graduate School) unless the 'employer', i.e. the 3rd party partner has other regulations or funding opportunities.