A thesis is an academic paper written by a student at the end of their studies. It is usually a prerequisite for successfully completing university studies. A thesis should demonstrate that the candidate understands how to apply what has been learnt during the course of study and can complete a task independently on a scientific basis in a reasonable amount of time.
What is a thesis?
The thesis represents a systematically structured text in which a student presents the results of their independent research on a particular topic. With the thesis, students are expected to showcase the key skills they acquired during their studies to work on a topic independently by using scientific methods and presenting the results accordingly. The thesis is intended to give the reader an overview of a specific topic and ultimately plays an important part in the overall assessment of the student’s performance.
The requirements for a thesis are usually determined by the examination regulations of the course of study. The examination regulations of a course of study usually limit the maximum period of time for completing a thesis in Germany to six months. Depending on the department, limits of up to one year can also be common. The time it actually takes to complete the thesis is typically not predetermined, so the time of completion is up to the supervisor and the student. However, the completed thesis must be submitted within a specified deadline. The submitted written thesis is usually reviewed by two people, out of which one is the supervisor, who assesses and grades the thesis.
As a rule, the examination regulations of the degree programme clearly and formally specify the requirements for the thesis. The student chooses the topic themself while the supervisor may offer a list of topics to choose from.
Number of pages
The number of pages a thesis can have is usually specified. It varies in length between 30 and 150 pages, depending on the requirements and features of the course. Formal requirements of the examination regulations regarding the structure or the use of external results (quotations) must be followed and will be considered in the evaluation of the thesis.
Thesis in collaboration with companies
In Germany, it is also common for the thesis to be written in collaboration with companies. Such cases are very beneficial as typically the author helps the company to cost-effectively solve a problem while getting an insight into what their work might be like after graduation. The thesis topic is named by the author or the company.
A thesis is an examination achievement, therefore, the grade a student receives for their thesis work is included in the overall grade for their degree. At some universities, the thesis grade is weighted 1.5 or 2 times.
The grade is the outcome of a subjective assessment by the topic author and it cannot be objectively determined or measured. However, there is consensus on some minimum requirements such as the thesis to include objectivity, clarity, verifiability, thoroughness of the topic, and coherence of presentation.
Unlike dissertations, theses in Germany are not required to be published. Nevertheless, the author is free to publish it or use it commercially. According to the Copyright Act (UrhG), the author of the thesis has sole copyright and there is no obligation to name the supervisor as an author or co-author. Thesis in collaboration with companies, on the other hand, are often subject to secrecy at the request of the company and may only be published with the permission of the company.
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