Course code M30-IR

M30-IR Master's Thesis

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Showing course contents for the educational year starting in 2015 .

Course responsible: Kirsti Stuvøy
Teachers: Stig Jarle Hansen
ECTS credits: 30
Faculty: Department of International Environment and Development Studies
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Teaching exam periods:
Noragric thesis seminar for M-IR students are conducted in the spring term.
Course frequency: Annually.
First time: 2014H
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 a broad spectrum social scientific methods and theories that are part of the master study programme.

The master thesis is an independent 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 approximate length of the master thesis should be a minimum of 16000 words and a maximum of 28000 words. 

60ECTS thesis.

NMBU study regulations open for the possibility of writing a 60ECTS 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). 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 o f 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, 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 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:

1. Choice of topic
During the first term of the master programme students attend info meetings for study topics. During the second semester of the master study programme, the student suggests a topic for the master thesis, on the basis of which a supervisor is assigned. Submission is in Fronter. Deadline: 1 March.

2. Writing the 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 Fronter: 30 June.

3. Noragric thesis seminars: Peer-to-peer feedback seminars
In these seminars the student presents a research proposal and provides constructive feedback to fellow students. The peer-to-peer feedback is key to this seminar and compulsory attendance is required in at least eight of ten seminars. There will be a thesis seminar organised for programstudents in international relations in the fourth semester. The dates will be announced in due course.

Optional: Field work
In the autumn semester, i.e. year two of the master degree programme, students may conduct fieldwork.

Teaching support:

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 of NMBU or at another university may be arranged, following application and subject to approval by the programme coordinator. The student submits signed contract to supervisor and a copy to study administration together with a research proposal on 30 June. 

Recommended: Writing Course
It is recommended that students, who have not previously attended a writing course, e.g. LNG240, do so in the second semester.


Based on independent search for literature and discussions with supervisors. 
Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:
Research proposal submitted to supervisor by 30 June (first year of MA-studies). 

Prior to submission, the manuscript must be approved by the supervisor.

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 20-minutes presentation of the thesis research and answer questions from the external examiner and the supervisor. The discussion can result in an adjustment of the final grade for the thesis. It is the final grade that is announced to the student and included on the transcript of grades. 

Entrance requirements:
Only programme students can submit master thesis. 
The examination committee comprises the supervisor and an external examiner. 
Examination details: Term paper: A - E / Ikke bestått