Guidelines for Master Thesis
General requirements of Master Thesis
A master thesis is an independent research paper, which presents a scientific argumentation on a specific problem. A master thesis can be either a text in a form of a monographic paper or at least one article that is sent for publishing in a peer-reviewed journal, which must be accompanied by an additional part if the size of the article(s) is not sufficient for the thesis. This additional part may be based on either empirical or theoretical material (or both) that did not fit in the framework of the article (due to the style of the journal, or the limits of the length of the article, or due to new empirical material found).
A master thesis is an academic empirical or theoretical research, which is done in accordance with the requirements of the scientific publications in the peer-reviewed journals (systematic, skilfully argumented, introducing both the historical and current context of the problem, properly structured etc). The author must clearly state his/her original part.
Master theses can be written in Estonian, English, or Russian, and must contain a resume at least in one other language (in case of a paper written in English or Russian, the resume must be in Estonian; in case of the paper in Estonian, the resume should be in English). The rules to the contributors of the journal Sign Systems Studies should be followed in formatting the text; see at the SSS web page for authors. The advised length of the Master thesis is 60-100 pages, spacing 1,5; size 12; recommended font Times New Roman. The given length should hold all parts of the thesis, including references, excluding the additional pictures, schemes, charts etc.
The recommended structure of the Master thesis
A monographic thesis text should be made up of the following parts: introduction, description of the research object(s) and methodology, analysis, results, conclusion, list of all references, and a resume in another language. The Master thesis based on article(s) should follow the given structure taking into account the specificity of the paper.
Introduction explains the choice of the topic, sets the limits of the material, gives an overview of the history of the problem and current state of research done on the topic and demonstrates the methodological standpoints of the research, sets the aim, research question and working hypothesis of the paper, introduces and explains the structure. The introduction should contain references to the most important works on the topic, including those of the last few years. The historiography of the problem may also be described in a special subchapter.
The methodology part describes the methodology of the research, explains the choice and demonstrates the goals of the methodology. The object or material studied is described. The practical course of collecting data is presented (including both the methods of collection and later analysis of the material), also the explanations for the specificity of the sources and why these have been chosen should be given.
In the part of the analysis and results the material gathered and the interpretation, also the results and outcomes are given. The results of the analysis must be related to the theoretical model and research questions proposed in the introduction of the paper. An explicit discussion on whether the results are in accordance with the proposed goals or hypotheses must be shown, and also what new points of view can be developed on the basis of this data. New perspectives of the research should be stated and also discussion of the results in a wider context.
Depending on the type of the paper the material and methodology may not be presented as a separate chapter, in that case this information must be presented clearly in the introduction of the paper. Also the analysis and / or results may be given in several separate chapters. If the explicit data on results is missing due to the type of research done, the information on the outcome of the research must be given in the part of the analysis or in the conclusion.
Conclusion should give an exhaustive overview of the Master thesis as a whole. All the new knowledge acquired during the research process of the thesis should be presented in the conclusion.
List of references should include all the bibliographic data of the sources referred to in the text. Depending on the style of the paper, the source materials and secondary literature may be listed separately. A unified formatting scheme must be followed in case of all lists. Plagiarism is strictly not allowed; therefore all materials must be referred to.
Resume is the short conclusion of the whole paper in a foreign language. It should give an overview of the aim, research problem(s), solutions and results.
Thesis may also contain additional parts (lengthy illustrations, schemes, interview transcriptions etc), which will not be considered as part of the main body of the text.
MA thesis plan and its defence
The written thesis plan (ca 5 pages) should be sent to Ulvi Urm (ulvi.urm [ät] ut.ee) by 26 January 2016 at the latest.
The plan should include the following components:
- introduction and delimitation of the topic,
- research aim, research questions and expected results,
- material and method(s),
- structure of the thesis and its explanation (why such chapters and their expected volume),
At the defence, the thesis plan is introduced in the form of a brief slide presentation and the student is expected to shortly describe the state of the thesis: which parts of the plan are completed to what extent. There are 10 minutes for presentation and 10 for discussion. The aim of presenting the thesis plan is to receive feedback. The presentation can therefore include questions and problems to be discussed.
Prior to presentation, the plan should be consulted with the supervisor.In 2015/16 the defence of the MA thesis plan takes place on 28 January 2016.
The procedure of the defence of Master thesis
The supervisor of the Master thesis is chosen by the student according to his/her topic / interest of research. The topic of the paper will be confirmed in the meeting of the Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics in October, and supervisor will be confirmed in the similar meeting at least six months before the defence (no later than December).
The opponent to each thesis will be appointed at the meeting of the department in the beginning of April.
The pre-defence will take place no later than one and a half months before the defence (at the end of April). In the pre-defence will participate the opponent, the author of the paper, supervisor and some members of the committee (researchers and lecturers of the department).
The open defence will take place during a general meeting of the department, all those interested are welcome to participate. The members of the defence committee and the date of the defence will be pointed by the dean of the faculty.
Master thesis will be allowed to the defence procedure after being approved and signed by the supervisor.
The opponent should receive the Master thesis at least one week before the defence. The thesis should be presented as formatted according to the rules both in PDF and in one hardcover copy to the secretary of the department, Ulvi Urm Ulvi.Urm [ät] ut.ee , and also to the opponent whether in soft cover and/or PDF-file.
The presence of both the candidate and the opponent in the procedure of the defence is the precondition of a successful defence — as an exception the opponent may just give a written opinion. The opponent will present the opinion to the candidate in a written form at least 2 days before the defence.
The defence consists of the following parts: 1) introduction of the paper by the candidate (up to 10 minutes); 2) opponent’s comments on both the positive and negative aspects of the paper; 3) opponent’s question to the candidate and an academic discussion; 4) questions from the committee and the audience members; 5) candidate’s final word.
Committee gives the grade taking into account the opinions of the opponent and the supervisor and the discussion during the defence.