Course code M30-IR

M30-IR Master's Thesis

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2022 - 2023 .

Course responsible: Kirsti Stuvøy
Teachers: Stig Jarle Hansen, Katharina Charlotte Laura Glaab
ECTS credits: 30
Faculty: Faculty of Landscape and Society
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Teaching exam periods:
Noragric master thesis seminar for M-IR students are conducted in the spring term.
Course frequency: Annually.
First time: Study year 2014-2015
Course contents:

Master students in international relations are required to write a master thesis/dissertation on a topic within the field of international relations approved by the student's supervisor. The student can choose amongst the broad spectrum of social scientific methods and theories that are part of the master study programme to develop and conduct the analysis. The master thesis is an independent academic work. A key part of this work is the independent collection of relevant academic literature, reports, and other relevant material, and analysis of these. The student may conduct fieldwork, but this is not required. If the student conducts fieldwork, it is required that the supervisor approves the research proposal prior to travel to the field, and in cases of personal data, the student registers the project with the Norwegian Centre for Research Data ( The student is supervised in developing a research proposal. The student is assigned a supervisor in the spring one year prior to submission of the thesis (in the second semester of the master program).

The approximate length of the master thesis should be a minimum of 20.000 words and a maximum of 28.000 words

The case of 60 ECTS thesis: The NMBU study regulations provide students with the possibility of writing a 60ECTS thesis. Students wishing to pursue this opportunity must have approval from their supervisor. This option is only feasible for students who perform particularly well in their coursework (average grade B or better). The length of the work distinguishes it from a 30-credit thesis: A 60-credit thesis can be up to 35000 words and the writing process of the 60-credit thesis extends over two semesters. The thesis should reflect a mastering of the status of research in a particular field. Each student is entitled to 60 hours of supervision for a 60-credit 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, including academic literature, reports, etc. reading and assessing them in the relation to a specified issue within international relations.
  • The student will have presented the research topic, including methodology, data collection, analysis and any challenges encountered, to peers in Noragric's thesis seminars for IR-students.
  • 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 analysis and presentation 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:

1. Choice of topic: In the end of January students attend the department's information meeting for students and supervisors. This is an information and inspiration meeting in which potential supervisors present their areas of expertise and possible themes for a master thesis project. Subsequently the student suggests a topic for his/her master thesis and suggests a potential supervisor (within the department). This is the basis on which the department assigns the students with a supervisor. Submission of thesis topic and potential supervisor(s) is conducted electronically in the learning platform Canvas. Deadline: 1 March (2nd semester of master program).

2. Writing research proposal: As part of the compulsory methods course (EDS312), students are introduced to developing a research proposal. The supervisor approves the research proposal. Deadline for sumbission of research proposal in the learning platform is: 30 June (2nd semester of master program).

3. M30-IR thesis seminars: These seminars take place in the fourth and final semester of the master program, and are concentrated to a few weeks in spring (media March). In these seminars, the students present their on-going thesis projects and provides constructive feedback to fellow students. The peer-to-peer feedback is key to this seminar. Compulsory attendance is required in at least 3/4 of the seminars. The exact dates for the master thesis seminar is announced when the time schedule for the spring term is available in Time Edit (to be found under course code M30-IR).

Optional: Students may conduct field work. It is recommended to conduct field work in the autumn semester, i.e. year two of the master degree programme.

Teaching support:

Supervision: Each student is entitled to 30 hours of supervision for a 30 ECTS master thesis. 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. A co-supervisor from another department at NMBU or at another university may be arranged, following application and subject to approval by the programme leader of the master program in International Relations. The student submits a signed supervisory contract to the supervisor and a copy to the study administration together with a research proposal.

NMBU Library: The NMBU Library assists students in their individual search for relevant sources and the use of reference managers such as for example End Note. 

Recommended: It is recommended that students attent the NMBU Writing Course LNG240, if they have not previously done so. The NMBU's Writing Centre is available for consutlation on academic writing. Information about drop-in hours and sign-up for individual consultation is available in the NMBU Learning Centre in the Tower Building ("Tårnbygningen"). 


The readings for the master thesis is based on independent search for literature and discussions with supervisors. 

Nygaard, Lynn P. (2017) Writing Your Master Thesis. From A to Zen. London: Sage Publications. 

Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:

Research proposal submitted to supervisor by 30 June (end of first year of MA-studies). 

Compulsory attendance in M30-IR thesis seminar in spring fourth semester is required in at least 3/4 of the seminars.


REGISTRATION: When signing up for your thesis, NMBU rules and regulations apply. See information from Student Information Centre (SIT):

SUBMISSION OF THESIS: Prior to submission, the manuscript must be approved by the supervisor. 

It is mandatory to upload your thesis in "Brage". Information about Brage and how submit is available here:

THESIS DEFENSE: The master thesis is concluded with an oral examination. The NMBU study regulation stipulates that oral defense of the thesis shall take place within six weeks after the submissino of the thesis. The student and supervisor decide a date for the thesis defence. During the defence, the student will give a 15-minutes presentation of the thesis research. Subsequently the student answer questions from the external and the internal examiner and engages in a discussion of the research, strengths and weaknesses of the thesis. The oral examination can result in an adjustment of the final grade for the thesis, yet the written thesis work is the main part of the assessment. The final grade is announced to the student and included on the transcript of grades.

Entrance requirements:
Only IR programme students can submit master thesis in International Relations. 
Type of course:
IR Master thesis seminars: 10 master thesis seminars á 2x45 Minutes are conduected with peer-to-peer-feedback as the key working method. The seminars are conducted in the spring, concentrated around a time period in March/April.
The examination committee comprises an internal examiner (usually supervisor) and an external examiner, approved by the Faculty of Landscape and Society. 
Examination details: Term paper: Letter grades