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10 steps to a good MSc thesis

1. The theses are written and presented in the English language


and thus it is the students responsibility to present to their
supervisor a thesis that has been proof read and it is
consistent.

The

supervisor

is

not

responsible

for

correcting grammar and syntax mistakes, if however the


thesis has such mistakes, the student will be marked down.
2. Many theses illustrate a rich encyclopedic knowledge but they
lack depth and focus.

The research work should have a

theoretical

and

background

an

empirical

background

(quantitative or qualitative). In a Masters level, the empirical


background should be relative greater (providing that the
work is not entirely based on a theoretical subject such as the
legislative framework of construction).
innovation should be clearly stated.

The elements of

The marking of the

thesis is relative to the effort placed by the student.


3. The structure of a thesis usually consists of the following
chapters:

Introductory chapter (Chapter 1) where the aim and


the research methodology in short are presented
amongst others,

Chapter 2 usually presents the review of the literature,

Chapter 3 is the research methodology, (no thesis


can be submitted if there is no separate and analytical
chapter on the research methodology).

Chapter

is

the

application

of

the

research

methodology (often on a case study),

Chapter 5 findings of the application and relative


discussion and,

Eleni Sfakianaki

3/9/08

Chapter 6 conclusions and future research. The last


chapter is usually short and it does not summarize the
previous chapters, it presents the conclusions of the
study.

Exemptions to the above do apply and have to be


agreed with the supervisor.
not

contain

clear

However, theses that do

title,

scope

and

research

methodology simply will not be accepted.


4. In academic writing such as an MSc Thesis, a third person
writing is followed. First person use such as I, we, our etc.
is not recommended. Also try and avoid abbreviations such as
thats, isnt etc., instead use the full words. When we intent
to repeat more than twice a phrase such as Geographical
Information Systems we can abbreviate it (GIS) but always
explain before what it means.
5. Figures,

tables,

graphs

etc

are

always

numbered

and

explained below or above the image but they are also crossreferenced in the text and they are close to the cross
reference. For example: Figure 2.1: World map.
6. Paragraphs should be neither too long nor too short, try and
find the right balance.
sections length.

The same principle applies for the

Very short sections are meaningless;

however the opposite can happen with long sections which


eventually lose their meaning.
7. References must be found in most of the chapters of the
thesis but most importantly in the chapter of the literature
review.

The

most

serious

references

are

the

journal

references and then follow the academic books. Bare in mind


that the internet is a useful source but not totally
reliable and not totally academic and must be used with
caution.

In all cases, references, with very few exceptions,

must be up to date and within the last decade at the most.


Eleni Sfakianaki

3/9/08

Otherwise the research is considered old and out of date. The


appropriate referencing of sources within the text and
at the end of the thesis is very important and may cost
you in valuable credit.
8. It is the students task to keep constant contact with
their supervisor and not the other way round!
9. The supervisors can prevent the submission of a thesis if
they have doubts on the originality of the thesis and/or
plagiarism issues are raised.
10.

The more focused you are about what you want to

gain by your research, the more effective and efficient


you can be in your research, the shorter the time it will
take you and ultimately the less it will cost you (whether in
your own time, the time of your employees/family etc.).

Eleni Sfakianaki

3/9/08

THESIS PLANNING GUIDE QUESTIONS


This document should be completed by you and submitted to the
coordinator of the program (and/or supervisor) for discussion:
1. What draws you to this work?
2. What will you learn from it that will enhance your intellectual,
creative, and professional development? What is the innovation of
your work?
3. What social or cultural significance is there beyond your own
concerns?
4. How will you make your work known to others?
5. How does your thesis or project build on or integrate your earlier
ideas and studies?
6. What is the main focus of your thesis? What is the basis question
you are asking?
7. What will you be reading?
8. How will you use the reading in your thesis? (literature review?
referenced throughout?)
9. What other sources will you use? (interviewing? testing, Field
observation?)
10. How will you collect and analyze your information?
11. What form will your thesis project take?

Eleni Sfakianaki

3/9/08

12. Who is the audience for your work? If you were to publish or
show your work, where would you want it to appear? What would
you like your audience to take away from it?

THESIS CRITERIA
What makes a good thesis? In the effort to answer that question and
although the list cannot be exhaustive, we present in the following a
short list of criteria. As you plan your thesis, think about how you
can address each of these expectations.
A good thesis should:
1. Express or explore an idea, a particular problem, or question the
student wishes to investigate; clearly indicate what is the
contribution to the research in terms of innovation;
2. Represent an in-depth study within the student's area of
specialization;
3. Indicate familiarity with the literature as well as the context of the
student's field;
4. Demonstrate the student's ability to make judgments about
evidence in her or his own voice:
5. Be written in clear, polished, and precise language;
6. Demonstrate the student's ability to reflect and analyze;
7. Communicate clearly to such groups as peers in the student's
field, the general public, and the community of learners.

Eleni Sfakianaki

3/9/08

Eleni Sfakianaki

3/9/08