Office (Institute)

Petra Oetken-Brinkmann

+49 (0)441 798-4964

A6 4-416

Student Advisory Service

B.A./M.A. Social Sciences

M.Ed. Politics/Politics-Economics

Academic Examinations Office

General information and FAQ BA-/MA Final theses

General information

Aim of the thesis: With your BA/MA thesis, you should demonstrate your ability to work independently and scientifically at the end of your degree programme. This means that you should be able to independently apply the academic and methodological tools you have learnt during your studies (e.g. literature work, theory-based empirical studies, writing academic texts and citation) to a research question of your choice, critically reflect on your approach and develop further ideas in relation to the research subject, theory or method.

Time of completion: In the ideal study plan, the final thesis is scheduled for the last semester. Deviations may arise due to final outstanding module examinations. If you have any questions or uncertainties about the best possible planning, please contact the Student Advisory Service as early as possible.

Supervision & colloquium: Students are supervised by a primary supervisor from the Institute - usually a professor or a member of staff with a doctorate. Accordingly, the colloquium of the first supervisor must be attended - in the case of first supervisors with a doctorate, the colloquium of the corresponding working group or, alternatively, of the second supervisor. As a rule, it is recommended that you have attended a (possibly in-depth) course of the first supervisor or at least in the respective area of this working group during your studies.

Colloquia take place during the regular lecture period. The aim of this course is to support you in working independently on your thesis - from the development and specification of the research question to the writing phase - through joint exchange and defined intermediate goals. Successful supervision requires that you participate regularly and actively in the course, present your work progress and critically discuss the work of other participants. The requirements for successful participation are determined by the respective lecturers at the beginning of the semester. Confirmed participation in the colloquium is a prerequisite for the completion of your thesis.

The supervision cycle of the colloquia always starts at the beginning of each semester - often with important instructions for identifying and specifying a suitable research question in the first session. We therefore strongly recommend that you always start your thesis and colloquium at the beginning of the semester and do not wait until later in the semester. Students who would like to prepare for their thesis in the long term are welcome to attend the first introductory sessions of a colloquium (e.g. one semester before the start of the thesis) during their studies "as a taster course". We also recommend discussing the planned research question or the rough topic of the thesis with the desired first supervisor shortly before the start of the semester - for example by email or during office hours. In this way, you can ensure that your topic can be supervised in the appropriate working group in time for the start of the semester and that you do not miss any sessions - e.g. due to a prolonged search for a suitable supervisor.

Confirmation of supervision

Important: Registration in the Stud.IP course of the colloquium alone is not a confirmation of supervision. Always discuss the topic and time frame individually with the potential first supervisor - preferably before the start of the new semester. Ideally, you should prepare a short exposé with your initial thoughts on the topic (max. 1 page). You will receive prompt re-registration on the extent to which the topic you have chosen or the rough topic area is a sufficient fit with the teacher's teaching and research topics and can therefore be supervised accordingly.

Finding a topic

Many working groups provide guidance to help you identify a suitable topic for your thesis, e.g.

  • topics listed for final theses on the website or in Stud.IP
  • Topics of current or previously offered courses
  • Current or planned research projects

The following questions can help you choose a topic:

  • Which theoretical or empirical social science topics/issues to be analysed interest me?
  • Which social science topic would I like to analyse in depth and over a longer period of time?
  • Do I have previous theoretical/methodological knowledge that I can build on and on the basis of which I can develop a new/further-reaching question for my thesis?
  • What are my personal strengths? In which field of the social sciences? Which methods am I familiar with theoretically and/or practically?
  • In which area have I already attended courses that I was very interested in and the content of which could provide possible points of reference for a thesis?

After finding a topic, narrow down your specific research question as clearly as possible and formulate it as precisely as possible. Avoid purely descriptive or very broad and unspecific questions that focus one-sidedly on consequences (e.g. What are the consequences of x?) or causes (e.g. What are the causes of Y?). General tips on writing scientific texts and formulating research questions can also be found here: Further information can be found in the specific instructions of the working groups - check the individual websites or information in Stud.IP. Some working groups also assign questions - please contact the teaching staff if you are interested.

Important: When choosing your research question, you should always use topics and methodological approaches that you have learnt and possibly already applied during your studies. Particularly in the Bachelor's degree programme, it is not the purpose of a thesis to make a new contribution to a theory or to the state of research or to apply methodological procedures that you have not learned during your studies. Instead, at the end of your degree programme, you should demonstrate your ability to work independently and scientifically using the tools you have learned during your studies.

Admission and registration of the thesis

In order to be admitted to the final thesis, you must have collected certain credit points (CP): 120 CP in the Bachelor's programme and 60 CP in the Master's programme. Please note that you must have collected 60 CP from the basic curriculum in your Bachelor's degree before you can register your Bachelor's thesis. These CPs are deemed to have been earned when they are recorded in Stud.IP. CPs from modules that have not yet been assessed do not count.

Please first check independently whether you fulfil all the formal admission requirements of the examination regulations that apply to you in order to register your thesis. If you are unsure about the required number of credit points and open courses, please contact the Examinations Office first and otherwise the Student Advisory Service.

As a rule, you only register your thesis in the course of the semester once the research question and work plan have been discussed with your supervisor. You can find the document for registering your thesis on the left-hand side under "Important forms" here: It can usually take up to two weeks for the Examinations Office to register and approve your thesis, but it is usually much quicker. After that, you have four months for the Bachelor's thesis and six months for the Master's thesis processing time.

Submission and extension

A Bachelor's or Master's thesis is deemed to have been failed if you miss the submission deadline. If you are unable to meet the deadline for a valid reason, such as illness, you must submit a certificate of incapacity to work to the Examinations Office. Your processing time will then be extended by the time of your illness.

Assessment and issuing of certificates

The assessment of the final thesis can usually take up to six weeks. To ensure that your successful participation in the accompanying course (colloquium) can also be recorded, please register in Stud.IP in good time so that the supervisor can confirm your participation here.

Please note that the final certificate will not be issued automatically. When the Examinations Office confirms the successful registration of your thesis, you will receive the "Declaration on the issue of final documents". If you have already passed all compulsory module examinations, you can send this declaration to the Examinations Office. In doing so, you have the option of having additionally taken modules of up to 18 CP recognised or not recognised in the certificate. It can take up to 4-8 weeks to issue the certificate after successful completion of the last module examination/thesis. If you need your certificate particularly urgently, please contact your supervisors in good time for a prompt correction.

FAQ Final theses

Supervision and registration

Registration, when exactly: Do I have to register my thesis at the beginning of the semester?

AW: No, you first discuss your plans with your supervisor so that you can register your thesis later in the semester once you have agreed on the research question, approach and work plan. Please note any deadlines (application for a Master's degree programme, application for jobs) in order to plan well in advance by when your thesis must be corrected and the final certificate issued.

Registration, how exactly: How do I register the thesis? Are there any special requirements?

AW: If supervision by first and second examiners has been discussed and agreed, please fill in the current "Proposal for admission to thesis" form from the Academic Examinations Office completely - do not forget your name and student ID number on page 2. Please note that the topic specified is binding. Send the completed PDF by email to the first examiner - they will forward the proposal digitally to the Examinations Office. You will receive confirmation of your registration by email after a few days.

In addition, you register for the examination in the Stud.IP event of the colloquium so that your grade can be recorded by the Examinations Office.

Second supervisor: I have a topic proposal, but no second supervisor yet.

AW: No problem. However, please contact the second supervisor promptly at the beginning of the semester and not just shortly before submission. Your first supervisor will be happy to support you.

Editing the thesis

Academic writing: I find it difficult to write academic papers. Where can I get help?

AW: The Learning Workshop of the Central Study and Career Counselling Service supports students of all disciplines with questions relating to academic work and writing, for example with individual writing counselling, academic writing groups and workshops, e.g. on the writing process and time management. Otherwise, you can find advice on writing academic texts here: In the colloquium, you can ask whether excerpts from your thesis can be read together. The colloquium is an offer for you that you can use for support.

Colloquium: Is participation compulsory?

AW: Yes, participation in the accompanying course "Colloquium" is part of the BAM (Bachelor's thesis module) or the MAM (Master's thesis module) and is worth 3 CP. The requirements for successful participation are announced in the respective colloquium. The examination will be recorded on Stud.IP and will not be graded.

Literature management: I have not yet used a literature management programme.

AW: No problem - however, we strongly recommend that you use a programme. You can choose between open source programmes (e.g. Zotero) or software with a university licence (Citavi, EndNote). You can find relevant materials and training courses in the Library and Information System. Make use of these offers - preferably at the beginning or during your studies!

Research: I have little experience with literature research in journal databases and subject catalogues. Where can I find help?

AW: The library usually offers subject-specific training on literature research and information for the subject of social sciences once a semester (extracurricular offers). Make use of this offer - preferably at the beginning or during your studies!

Statistics programmes: I have little/no experience with statistical programmes such as R or Stata, but would like to do quantitative statistical work. Where can I find help?

AW: Experienced fellow students will be happy to help you in the weekly student-organised methods workshop. You can find more information in the corresponding Stud.IP course.

Additional tools, AI/software: I like to use AI or AI-like tools when working on my scientific papers. What is actually allowed?

AW: The final thesis documents the ability to work independently on a scientific question. Accordingly, you confirm with the submission that the submitted work was created exclusively by you and with the aids specified in the affidavit (e.g. Citavi, R, ...). Accordingly, declare the use of AI-like tools and their purpose, e.g. for checking and improving spelling and grammar.

Important: Never use AI-like tools to analyse or process secondary data or self-collected primary data (e.g. interviews conducted) with personal information of third parties. This constitutes a gross violation of data protection law and/or signed data transfer agreements. The latter can be associated with high fines and the exclusion of data use for both you and the supervising teacher. If you have any questions or uncertainties, please contact us!

Handing in the work

Submission: What do I have to consider when submitting my thesis?

AW: The thesis is sent in PDF format by email to the School's Examinations Office () - please put your reviewers in CC. Information about the attached thesis and its title as well as your student ID number is sufficient as content of the email. The Examinations Office contact form is not suitable for submission.

Please discuss with your supervisor to what extent you would like to submit printed copies of your thesis (drop them in the respective post box behind the lifts on the ground floor of the institute building A6). As a rule, you can dispense with a cost-intensive binding with cover and use an inexpensive adhesive binding with foil instead. Please also clarify to what extent and in what form additional materials must be submitted - such as transcripts, guidelines, R or Stata syntax.

Affidavit: What is it?

Please attach an affidavit to your thesis and sign it (digital or scanned signature in the digital version). You can find a template on the institute page under the notes on academic work. Do not forget to declare any aids used in this declaration (literature management, analysis software, other supporting (AI) software (e.g. Grammarly, Writefull, etc.).

Interviews: Do I have to hand in the guidelines and the transcribed interviews?

AW: Please discuss the specific requirements with your first examiner.

Syntax: Do I need to hand in my R/Stata data coding and calculations code?

AW: Please discuss the specific requirements with your first examiner.

Certificate: When will my certificate be issued?

AW: If you have achieved a total of 180 CP (Bachelor) or 120 CP (Master) including the final thesis, you have attended the colloquium for final theses and your participation has been confirmed via Stud.IP by the AG (see registration, Stud.IP), the Examinations Office will check all requirements upon receipt of your proposal for the issue of the final documents and issue the certificate.

(Changed: 18 Mar 2024)  | 
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