Course code M30-IES

M30-IES Master's Thesis

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2021 - 2022 .

Course responsible: Pål Olav Vedeld
ECTS credits: 30
Faculty: Faculty of Landscape and Society
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Teaching exam periods:
Spring and autumn
Course frequency: Annually.
First time: 2014H
Preferential right:
M-IES
Course contents:

Master students in international environment studies are required to write a master thesis/dissertation on a topic within the field of international environment studies approved by the student's supervisor. The student can choose amongst a broad spectrum of natural and social scientific methods and theories that are part of the master study programme.

The master thesis is an independent and stand-alone piece of academic work. Independent gathering and analysis of sources (primary and/or secondary) are key elements of the dissertation. The student may also conduct fieldwork. The student is supervised in developing a research proposal. If the student is conducting fieldwork, it is required that the supervisor approves the research proposal prior to travel to the field. The thesis can be written as a monograph or as a scientific article, upon approval by the supervisor.  Recommended length of the master thesis in monograph format is between 16000 words and maximum in the order of 28000 words (for a 30 credit thesis). For thesis in scientific article format, length will typically range between 8000 and 10000 words, excluding appendixes and complementary materials. Theses in article format are expected to have reached quality level for submission to a journal by the time of completion. Each student is entitled to 40 hours of supervision for a 30-credit master thesis, including grading and defense.

60ECTS thesis: NMBU study regulations open for the possibility of writing a 60 ECTS thesis. Students wishing to pursue this opportunity must get approval by the supervisor. This option is only feasible for students who perform particularly well in their coursework (average grade B or better). A 60-credit thesis can be up to 35000 words and the writing process of the 60-credit thesis extends over two semesters. In particular cases (e.g. thesis involving large amounts of primary data collection), and upon approval by supervisors, 60-credit theses may also be presented in a scientific article format. The thesis should reflect a mastering of the status of research in a particular field. Each student is entitled to 80 hours of supervision for a 60-credit master thesis, including grading and defense. 

Planning for the thesis:

The process of completing the thesis extends from early spring semester first year (choice and definition of thesis topics) to spring semester year two (thesis submission and defense - see deadlines under "learning activities"). Students will choose topic(s) from the provided list and will be assigned supervisor(s) based on their choice during spring semester first study year. Once topic and supervisor are confirmed, students are expected to contact their supervisor(s) and start working on the research proposal. Early drafts of research proposals should be completed and shared with the supervisor(s) well ahead of the deadline on June 30. Students should start working with the thesis as soon as possible after the thesis proposal gets approval and contract is signed. Students are generally expected to share drafts of some chapters and sections (e.g. introduction, background and methods) with the supervisor(s) during the first months.

For theses involving fieldwork, ethical clearance and data sampling design should be completed as soon as possible following thesis approval. Data collection is typically conducted over the summer and autumn, so that enough time is left for data analyses and thesis writing, although timing is flexible and fieldwork can extend to the spring parallel in year two insofar a realistic plan for completion in time is agreed with the supervisor. Theses typically require various iterations of text revision before expected quality levels are achieved, so the first full daft should be generally sent to supervisors well ahead of the submission deadline. Students are expected to submit their thesis in spring semester second year. Extensions are only approved if there is a valid reason for it (such as health-related issues or an approved leave of absence).

Students that chose to do internships within the period of the thesis should do them around topics and organizations that allow for synergies with the Master thesis.

Learning outcome:

A master thesis is a comprehensive working process. When completed, it provides the student with in- depth knowledge of a specific topic and relevant methods and theories. The student will have independently searched for and assessed various sources. The master thesis will have been structured according to academic standards. The student will have gained experience in planning and implementing a project over a period of (more than) six months. Throughout this process, the student will have gained specific knowledge, skills and competence:

 The student will have experience in searching for various sources, reading and assessing them in the relation to a specified issue within international environment studies.

 Through supervision, the student will have gained insight into the various steps of a research process, including methodical and ethical concerns.

 If the student has conducted fieldwork and gathered primary data, practical experience will have been gained in assessing sources and collecting data in the field, in addition to the explanation of research results.

 The student will have gained experience in processing feedback and can critically reflect on the results of the research and the working process.

Learning activities:

Learning activities: 

Choice of topic: At the end of January/early February in the first study year, students attend an info meeting for theses topics where they also meet potential supervisors. This is an information and inspiration meeting. Subsequently students suggest up to three topics for the master thesis, on the basis of which a supervisor is assigned. Study administration will inform students about how to send in their choice of topics. Deadline: 1 March.All students will be assigned a supervisor shortly after they have sent in the topics. Students are expected to contact their supervisor as soon as possible and start working on the research proposal. Deadline for research proposal and thesis contract is 30 June. Students will get support from their supervisor and are also introduced to developing a research proposal during the spring semester as a part of the mandatory course EDS312.Submission deadline: 15 May on the second study year.
Teaching support:

Supervision: Students sign a contract with the supervisor. The supervisory relationship is guided by the contract as well as common understandings for supervisory responsibility. Writing a research proposal is an integral part of the thesis process and its supervision. The student has a responsibility to stay in touch with the supervisor. The main supervisor should be a Noragric staff member.

NMBU's Writing Centre is available for advice on academic writing.

Diverse thesis-related material is posted on Canvas program page (M-IES).

Syllabus:
Based on independent search for literature and discussions with supervisors.
Recommended prerequisites:
EDS303, EDS312 or equivalent. 
Mandatory activity:
Research proposal and thesis contract submitted to supervisor(s) and study administration by 30 June.
Assessment:

REGISTRATION AND SUBMISSION OF THESIS: Thesis contract must be submitted to study administration before the registration deadline for the given semester. Prior to submission, the manuscript must be approved by the supervisor. 

THESIS DEFENSE: The master thesis is concluded by an oral degree examination. The student and supervisor decide a date for the thesis defence. During the defence, the student will give a presentation of the thesis research of approximately 20-minutes and answer questions from the external examiner and the supervisor. The discussion can result in an adjustment of the final grade for the thesis. The final grade is announced to the student and included on the transcript of grades.

Entrance requirements:
Only programme students (M-IES) can submit M30-IES master thesis.
Examiner:
The examination committee comprises the intern examiner (normally supervisor) and an external examiner. 
Examination details: Term paper: A - E / F