Guidelines for the student and supervisor during the Master’s thesis process

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.

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.

Guidelines master thesis

Prior to the start of the Master's thesis work

It is important to attend the faculty’s information meeting(s) for students about the master's 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 honor 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.

Rights and budget

The right to collected data and the possible publication thereof should be discussed, cf. NMBU Guidelines - Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). If the Master's thesis is to be confidential, 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, printing of the thesis, 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 (minimum 5 credits), 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 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 NMBU's guidelines for HSE.

Fieldwork

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.

The student and supervisor are required to follow NMBU's 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. Information on laboratory safety. 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 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 Jing tool (link) 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. If special considerations exist, the Master’s thesis may be barred from the public for a certain number of years, usually between 2 and 5 years, but never permanently. The postponement in publishing must be clarified with the supervisor prior to submission of the assignment and should be discussed at the conclusion of the contract.

If the thesis was completed at/for a company, it may be appropriate to enter into an agreement between the NMBU and the company / institution. The agreement should regulate the special conditions regarding publishing.

While completing the thesis work

Deadlines

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.

Resources and tips in the work with the thesis

Use the:

  • The Library and
  • The Writing center
    actively while writing the degree thesis. You will find 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.

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. These are in Brage (link).

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

The student should familiarize himself with available information about plagiarism. See the Writing Center's page on academic writing and referencing and review 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 Application for extended submission deadline 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).

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 available). 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 applies for a leave of absence (link) 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.

Finishing

Printing, submission and presentation of the thesis

The deadlines for the submission of the master's thesis is:

    • Spring parallel: May 15 at. 15.00 or
    • Autumn parallel: December 15 at 15.45

If the date falls on Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the deadline is the following working day.

The student is responsible for submitting the Master's thesis with the official NMBU cover page template. Printing the Master’s thesis must be booked in advance. SiÅS / Rotator is often used, otherwise NMBU has framework agreements with some printers. Check with the faculty if the require extra printed copies of your Master's thesis in addition to the tree copies that must be submitted to the Student Information Center (SiT).

Be sure to check that the correct title on the Master's thesis is registered in StudentWeb before you submit the thesis.

The Master's thesis is submitted as an electronic version (pdf format) via NMBU's open institutional archive (Brage). At least three (3) printed bound copies, identical to the submitted thesis in Brage, are submitted to the (SiT). Remember that receipt for submission on Brage (sent to your e-mail address) must be presented.

For a confidential thesis the form Confidential thesis must be completed and submitted  with each of the three bound thesis upon submission at SiT.

The deadline for marking of the Master's thesis (30 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.

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 assesment.

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 30. June 2017 - 8:13

Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

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