Guidelines master thesis


Students and supervisors are required to comply with the rules and regulations applicable to master students at NMBU. Please pay special attention to the sections in the Academic Regulations for NMBU that deal with the Master's theses and Special Syllabus.

Bachelor's thesis

The bachelor's thesis shall reflect the student's understanding and independent thinking and represent in-depth study in the degree's subject area. The responsible faculty shall decide whether a bachelor's thesis shall be a compulsory part of the programme.

Please contact the student advisor at your faculty for any information regarding writing a bachelor's thesis.

Master's thesis

The master's thesis should show understanding, reflection, maturity and analytical ability. The thesis work should be a training in identifying a specific problem within the field of the study, analysis and the treatment of these in a scientific manner, as well as being able to produce a written scientific thesis about the selected topic.

The course description for the master's degree thesis contains more in-depth information about the requirements for the master’ thesis.

Information meeting about Degree thesis work

It is important to attend the faculty’s information meeting(s) for students about the degree thesis.

Choosing a topic and supervisor

The timing for choosing a topic for the Master’s thesis will depend on the topic of the thesis, contact your faculty for the correct deadline.

When the student is to choose a Master's thesis topic, he/she must contact the student advisor at his/her faculty, possibly the faculty that covers the topic area he /she wants to work with. The student can also directly contact relevant supervisors. The faculty might have their own web pages with an overview of current topics and time for information meetings.

When the student and supervisor make an agreement regarding the selection of the Master's thesis topic, they must report this to the supervisor’s faculty by submitting the form Notification for the choice of thesis topic. The student is responsible for submitting the form to the faculty within the stipulated deadline.

The Faculty must approve the student’s choice of topic and supervisor(s). All Master's thesis students are entitled to be assigned an academic supervisor in connection with the completion of the Master's thesis. The faculty is responsible for ensuring that each student receives the required supervision as stipulated in the regulations.

Contract with schedule and meeting plan

The student and the supervisor must jointly prepare the form Contract – thesis for the Master's thesis work. Please contact the student advisor at the relevant faculty for details on the submission deadline for the contract. The deadlines may vary.

Student’s responsibility

• The student is responsible for handing in the form Contract – thesis to the supervisor’s faculty. 
• The student is responsible for registering for teaching in the Master’s degree on StudentWeb. The faculty handles the registration for teaching when a valid contract is available. Until the registration is completed by the Faculty it will be stated on Studentweb that the registration is being processed. 
• The student must make certain that that he/she is registered for both teaching and the final registration for the Master's thesis by 1 February for the spring semester or  15 September for the autumn semester. The student must also pay the semester fee. 
• The student must register for any Special Syllabus (5, 10 or 15 credits) on the StudentWeb within the registration deadline - NMBU academic calendar (link).

Supervisor and student joint responsibility

• In the initial phase, both the student and the main supervisor are mutually responsible for setting up and agreeing on the framework for the supervision (schedule, the expectations and the extent of the guidance, etc.). If there are several supervisors, the contract must state the responsibilities of each supervisor. 
• If the main and additional supervisor (s) are employed at various faculties at NMBU, a percentage allocation of each supervisor’s responsibility must be agreed upon.

Meeting schedule

The supervisor and the student shall, upon entering into the contract, agree upon a meeting schedule for the entire period of supervision, i.e. until agreed submission. Both parties are obligated to honour the meeting schedule. 
• The schedule must ensure regular follow-ups and be realistic. 
• The schedule should be based on the progress plan and ensure that the milestones are reached. 
• At a minimum a start-up meeting, a thorough written and oral mid-term review and a review with feedback in the final phase should be planned. 
• For students who have data collection, field or laboratory work, a meeting should be set up after this work is completed for a review of the collected data.


The student is responsible for maintaining regular contact with his supervisor(s), as well as to follow the progress and meeting plan.

Both the student and the supervisor should know what time limits apply to the work on the Master's thesis and follow the set deadlines. Follow-up of the progress plan is important to avoid postponed submission. It is emphasized that a student’s application for a postponed submission deadline may be refused if it is due to reasons that the student (s) / supervisor should have predicted.

Rights and budget

The right to collected data and the possible publication thereof should be discussed, cf. NMBU

If the degree thesis is to be confidential, please see more information below, the form Confidential Thesis must be completed in cooperation with the supervisor. Be specific about the budget for the thesis, and clarify how expenses for field, laboratory work, travel etc. are to be covered.

Special Syllabus

A Master's thesis may contain a special syllabus. An agreement about a special syllabus must be stated in the contract and the form Special Syllabus, which must be agreed to with the supervisor and must be approved by the faculty with which the main supervisor is affiliated. The special syllabus must consist of minimum 5 credits. 

The special syllabus must be at the master’s level and shall provide a supplementary competence for the academic work on the assignment. This may constitute a deeper understanding in a subject or provide a broader scope in the subject than the university's courses can provide. If the special syllabus is included in the reference list for the Master's thesis, the work on this curriculum must mean a significant contribution in relation to what should be expected in the reference literature.

Health, Safety and Environment

        Both the student and the supervisor are obliged to follow the guidelines for HSE.


All students conducting field work (home and abroad) are responsible for securing  insurance coverage for the period of field work which can be used in case of accidents. The student is responsible for contacting appropriate healthcare professionals and must arrange for vaccination(s) before and during the fieldwork. Read more about insurance and vaccines. Students conducting fieldwork (home and abroad) are also responsible for filling in a fieldwork notification form. In case of fieldwork abroad, the student is also responsible for obtaining a visa, residence permit and any other necessary documents for the country in question before departure. Both student and supervisor are required to follow guidelines for fieldwork and field trips.

Laboratory and work in workshop

Students with work in a laboratory or workshop are required to follow the faculty's rules and regulations for the use of the premises and equipment. When working in laboratories, the student is required to undergo basic training in health, safety and environment before work commences. Students with work involving use of different equipment belonging to the faculty is obliged to use the equipment according to the rules of the faculty.

The Supervision

Supervisor's duties

The supervisor is normally required to provide the student with 40 hours of guidance including marking for a 30 credits Master’s thesis, 60 hours of guidance including marking for a 45 credits Master’s thesis  and 80 hours of guidance including marking for a 60 credits Master’s thesis. Both parties are encouraged to keep an account of the hours.

The hours include all thesis-related activities: 
• preparation and planning of the assignment 
• fieldwork 
• laboratory work 
• statistics help 
• Review and feedback on manuscript 
• general communication between student (s) and supervisor (s).

If the supervisor is to be away for a long period of time, it must be clear to the student how information will be exchanged and who can assist the student in the period the supervisor is unavailable. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to make sure that the student has others who can supervise when planning absenteeism.

The supervisor must adjust the number of Master's theses he/she can supervise to other teaching responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that he/she has the necessary skills to guide the Master's thesis, including sufficient competence to guide the student in necessary statistical analysis. The supervisor shall ensure that there are co-supervisors available if parts of the thesis are outside the field of competence of the main supervisor, or if the supervisor lacks the skills to provide adequate guidance in statistical analysis. This should be clarified and incorporated into the contract.

The supervisor commits to encourage the student to stay in touch and provide updates on the thesis work. The supervisor will direct the student in the design of the Master's thesis and provide academic and methodical feedback on the work. This includes attention to research ethics, methodology and other relevant ethical and legal issues (including good research practice, publishing, mission research, publicity and confidentiality, and protection of animals, people and the environment involved in research).

The supervision must follow the student through all the elements of the learning objectives.

Supervisors can contact the writing center if they wish to use the video feedback tool Jing to provide feedback on the student's thesis.

Student responsibility under supervision

If the student receives supervision in connection with the Master's thesis which is unsatisfactory, or there is a conflict or more fundamental disputes between the student and the main supervisor, it is the student's responsibility to report any problems to the faculty. The student can contact the student advisor.

Confidentiality agreement

Research should initially be open and accessible to the public.

Barred (postponed) thesis

If special considerations exist, the thesis may be barred from the public for up to 5 years, but never permanently. Any decision to postpone the publication of a thesis for more than five years shall be made by the University Board on the basis of an application that states the grounds for postponement. Please note that NMBU will use the title of the degree thesis on the student's transcript and diploma, it is therefore wise to not include any restricted/confidential information in the thesis's title.

  • Postponing the publishing must be clarified with the supervisor prior to submission of the assignment and should be discussed at the conclusion of the contract.
  • Common reasons for postponed publication may be if the thesis is intended to be used in later work with the aim of publication or a higher degree, or that one collaborates with a company that works in this area in a competitive market.
  • An agreement on postponement must be entered into before submitting the assignment. For tasks performed at a company, it may be appropriate to enter into an agreement between NMBU and the company / institution. The agreement should regulate special matters concerning publication.
  • The form for postponed  thesis must contain information about the duration and reason for the postponement and must be submitted together with the thesis for censorship. The degree thesis will not be published.

Restriction required by law

Master's theses that contain, or part thereof, information that is subject to a statutory duty of secrecy shall be restricted. The rules about secrecy are set out in section 13 of the Norwegian Public Administration Act. Please note that NMBU will use the title of the degree thesis on the student's transcript and diploma, it is therefore wise to not include any restricted information in the thesis's title.

Restrictions must be registered on the stipulated form concerning this matter.

The regulations concerning statutory duty of secrecy apply to the following information*:

  1. information about an individual’s personal affairs*.
  2. information about technical devices and procedures as well as operational or business matters which for competitive reasons it is important to keep secret in the interests of the person whom the information concerns.
  3. information subject to a duty of secrecy which the researcher obtains from an administrative agency, information received from private sources upon pledge of secrecy in connection with the research.
  4. information concerning persons who are dependent upon the body (school, hospital, institution, enterprise, public authority etc.) which has arranged for their contact with the researcher.

*  The duty of secrecy according to section 13 shall not prevent information from being used when no legitimate interest indicates that it should be kept secret, for example when it is generally known or generally accessible elsewhere (point 3 of section 13a).

Resources and tips in the work with the thesis

We recommend all available resources is used while writing the degree thesis. Information on how to write academic texts, source reference and literature list, reference tools, e-learning as basic requirements for academic writing, tips for information retrieval, literature search and reference management tool OneNote, course in presentation technology and much more are available.

Earlier master's thesis dealing with topics with similar issues or written on similar topics can provide useful insight into how the written product should be designed are available in Brage.

There is no NMBU standard for font, line spacing or width. Contact the faculty for further information.

The student must familiarize with available information about how to write academic text as well as how to cite and write correctly to avoid plagiarism. Please also do the e-learning about plagiarism.

Illness, leave of absence or postponed deadline

The student may apply for a postponed submission deadline of the Master's thesis due to illness or other special circumstances (e.g. teaching at NMBU, significant responsibilities as an elected student representative, care work or problems with the thesis that are outside the control of the student). The student can submit the application form to the faculty he / she is associated with during the work on the degree thesis. A written account for the reasons for the delay is required, as well as a documented need for an extended deadline (e.g. sick leave), a specification for the amount of time for the postponement and a proposed new schedule must be completed in cooperation with the supervisor(s).

During the spring semester, the student can apply for extended submission to 15 June, 15 July, 15 August or until 15 December (new semester). During the autumn semester, the student can apply for extension to 15 January, 15 February, 15 March or 15 May (new semester).

If the student seeks a postponed submission deadline for the Master's thesis due to undue problems with the thesis, the application must contain a statement from the supervisor.

The student must apply for a postponed submission deadline without undue delay after the cause of the delay has occurred (no later than one month before submission deadline unless medical certificate is submitted). The student can be granted up to a 3-month postponement. A deadline extension is only granted once. The extension of the submission deadline does not entitle the student to further supervision. If the student's granted submission deadline is extended for more than three months the student must register for a new semester as well as register the thesis for the semester in which the thesis will be submitted.

An application for an extended submission deadline is processed by the faculty of the main supervisor for the thesis.

If the student applies for a leave of absence after having entered an agreement about the degree thesis, the student is obliged to revise the Master’s thesis contract with the supervisor before the start of the leave of absence. The student must deliver the revised contract to the faculty.

In case of the supervisor’s illness, leave of absence or similar, the faculty is responsible for appointing a new supervisor.

A degree thesis that has not been submitted within the deadline cannot subsequently be submitted in a revised or supplemented form.  In such cases, the student loses his/her admission to the programme of study. If the student applies for re-admission and is admitted, a new thesis on a new topic must be prepared.

Submission and oral presentation of the thesis

Deadlines and regulations for submission of thesis:

    • Spring parallel: 15 May at 12:00 
    • Autumn parallel: 15 December at 12:00 


  • The thesis must be submitted with the official NMBU's front and back cover template.
  • Be sure to check that the correct title on the Master's thesis is registered in StudentWeb before you submit the thesis. How to change the title of your thesis.
  • Please read the Remember - submitting your thesis for information on digital submission of your thesis.
  • For thesis that are barred (postponed) or restricted by law the correct form must be completed and submitted to no later than four (4) weeks before the thesis submission deadline and attached electronically when submitting the thesis in WISEflow. 
  • The thesis The deadline for marking of the Master's thesis (30, 45 and 60 credits) is 6 weeks from the submission deadline.
  • There must be at least two examiners, of which at least one external, for marking of the degree thesis. The faculty appoints the examiners and a contract must be signed between the faculty and the external examiner on the implementation of the assessment.

Presentation and discussion of the degree thesis

The Master’s thesis and any special syllabus must be discussed orally within 6 weeks of submission of the thesis. The supervisor determines the time for the discussion in consultation with the student and the examiner.

For students with a special syllabus, the examination in the special syllabus will be conducted first. The mark in the special syllabus will be announced after the external examiners and supervisors have discussed the performance of the examination. The external sensor determines the mark and informs the student of the mark.

The oral discussion of the Master's thesis is initiated by a presentation of the thesis (approximately 20-30 minutes), where the student gives an overview of the thesis. This is followed by an oral discussion with the examiners. Both external and internal examiners, as well as all supervisors, are normally present during the oral discussion. The purpose of the discussion is to provide feedback on strong and weak aspects of the thesis, as well as to assess the students' judgement, understanding, effort and independent thinking. There is no separate mark for the discussion, but the discussion is part of the assessment of the Master's thesis, and the discussion may contribute to the final grade of the Master's thesis.

How to prepare for and conduct the oral thesis defense (videos complied by NMBUs Writing Centre)

At the oral discussion of a thesis conducted by a group of students, the examiner can make an individual assessment of the examinee. Students who have written a Master’s thesis in collaboration can achieve different marks for their Master's thesis. Only under exceptional circumstances, can students who submit a collaborated thesis have separate discussions of the thesis.

A student who does not attend the oral discussion of the thesis and who has not been granted a postponement for submission will be registered as a "no-show" for the thesis. In such cases, the student loses his/her admission to the programme of study.

If a Master's thesis is given the mark of F (fail), the examiners shall, in consultation with the student(s), consider whether there is basis for an oral discussion. Grading system and assessment.

If a Master's thesis is given the mark of F (fail) and is to be revised - fill in the form Revision of a degree thesis

Appeal the mark

For complaints about the mark of a Master’s thesis ordinary procedures for appeal about a given grade apply. If the new assessment of the written work means that the appeal of the mark is successful, i.e. that the grade is changed, a new oral discussion must be held.

Published 28. June 2017 - 12:52 - Updated 6. January 2023 - 9:54