BA/MA Theses: Writing for Impact
Enrich you studies with IMPACT! By writing your thesis on an environmental and/or social sustainability related topic, you will not only expand your awareness and knowledge but also will contribute to the wider research community. Affiliated STaR Faculty as well as the members of STaR intellectual community all work on projects related to sustainability and responsibility. To further help you in deciding on your thesis topic, we have compiled a list of faculty members from over 50 WU Institutes and their research areas. As you probably know, at WU Vienna you can write your thesis at any Department/Institute. You will see there are a great many possibilities!
Before you look at the list, please note that:
The list is for informational purposes only. The STaR team is not responsible for changes in the content of individual Institutes’ websites.
Supervision requirements vary greatly among departments and institutes. STaR does not provide information on how to submit a thesis proposal. Please visit the Institutes’ websites or contact potential supervisors.
Generally, at WU, theses can be written in German or English. Writing in another language may also be an option at the Department of Foreign Language Business Communication. Please inquire with your potential supervisor.
The STaR Competence Center does not directly engage in theses supervision.
You may also find inspiration by browsing the WU Theses Catalogue. It allows searching for already completed master’s and PhD theses by topic, keyword, and author’s name.
Finally, we are doing our utmost to keep the information on this site up-to-date: We will be grateful for reports of any inconsistencies or changes (email email@example.com).
Find your WHY
Learn from others and their theses writing experiences!
If you have recently completed your BA/MA thesis on a sustainability-related topic, we would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Business & Economics Theses
My bachelor thesis is about ... the flexibilisation of working hours. The 12-hour workday and its effects on employees.
I wrote with ... Felix Butzlaff at the Institute for Social Change and Sustainability.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... the working environment affects everyone and especially well-chosen working hours are essential to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In particular political debates about extending the maximum of legal working hours aroused my interest in that topic and made me decide to make more research about the impact on employees.
My impact is ... to raise awareness of possible effects of long working hours. Working beyond eight hours per day can trigger serious health issues for employees. Because of significant work-related disorders and a surge of accidents at – but also after – work, a legal framework is required to protect employees from over-working. Hence, in order to ensure a company’s long-term existence, a healthy labour is indispensable.
I was surprised to find out that ... working hours also implicitly imply power relations between employers their employees. Therefore, by changing working hours legally or by making them more flexible, one must consider their impact on equality and fairness.
I would recommend you ... to read and educate yourself also on topics beyond your studies. By showing interest in your environment, you not only acquire valuable knowledge but also attract people’s attention.
Sümeyye received the Award for the best bachelor thesis in ZuWi 2.
My bachelor thesis is about ... the contribution of the concept of the circular economy towards a more sustainable fashion industry.
I wrote with ... Martin Herles at the Institute of English Business Communication.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... the fashion industry is considered to be one of the most polluting industries and has severe negative environmental and societal impact. I wanted to find out if there existed a concept for improvement which were beneficial to all three, environment, society, and the economy.
My impact is ... raising awareness on possible solutions to a substantial issue
I was surprised to find out that ... the production of one single pair of jeans requires up to 8,000 liters of water, which is the equivalent of 57 bathtubs.
I would recommend you ... to make sure you know what is required from you when writing a thesis and to match the "Academic Research Techinques” (de: GWA) course with the area of research you are interested in.
My bachelor thesis is about ... analysis of the sharing economy market in France and Austria.
I wrote with ... Regina Göke at the Institute for Romance Languages in French.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... I realized that although most of my family members, my friends and I frequently use collaborative services, we were not familiar with the extent of this term, the movement and its corresponding practices. My choice of writing my thesis in French and carrying out a comparative analysis between the Austrian and French market was based on my strong ties with both countries.
My impact is ... to raise awareness about the existing sharing economy alternatives in Austria and France. Collaborative practices can generate many opportunities, economic growth, social and environmental improvements. However, it is worth mentioning that this business model also leads to some issues and challenges that need to be addressed in order to achieve a sustainable development.
I was surprised to find out that ... France and Austria share many resemblances in various fields despite their structural differences. In fact, the key factors of development, the market’s leading sectors, encountered obstacles as well as subjective variables such as preferences, motivations, doubts and attitudes of the French and Austrians are very similar.
I would recommend you ... to plan your bachelor thesis ahead. Use all the resources at your disposal (databases, friends, family and your supervisor ...) to inform yourself and identify the topic that really interests you. The more enthusiastic you are about the topic, the easier it will be for you to research and write your thesis.
My bachelor thesis is about ... gender sensitive language in public communications of Spanish and Chilean companies in the energy sector.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... the power of language in regard to gender is something I am passionate about. Furthermore, I did my exchange semester in Peru and wanted to increase my academic writing skills in Spanish.
My impact is ... to encourage others to question their own subconciously acquired patterns of language use.
I was surprised to find out that ... big corporations actually do use gender sensitive language to position themselves as open, inclusive and progressive.
I would recommend you ... choosing a topic YOU sincerely care about and always go for the supervisor who offers more than just one feedback session. Don't worry about choosing a broad topic at first, you can iteratively narrow it down during the research process.
Susan also runs the podcast Inside Impact on social entrepreneurship related topics.
My bachelor thesis is about ... how many bachelor theses were written in cooperation with external organisations at WU in 2015/16.
I wrote with ... Dr. Gunther Maier at the Institute for Multi-Level Governance and Development.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... I was interested in founding a start-up to connect companies and students to write their bachelor thesis together. Bachelor students spend a lot of time writing a bachelor thesis that may not be published and often nobody cares about. With a company, students work on real world issues and write about a meaningful topic. My bachelor thesis about bachelor theses with companies was research for my future project.
My impact is ... to raise awareness on bachelor theses as a tool for third mission and knowledge transfer. The third mission of universities is the interaction between university and society and is a current hot topic of top management in universities around the world. Company theses are already a practise, but the institutionalization needs to be improved. My study suggests 17% of bachelor theses at WU in 2015/2016 were in cooperation with an external organisation and includes the perspective of thesis supervisors regarding the topic.
I was surprised to find out that ... already many theses are written with an external organisation, but in 86% of the cases, no financial incentive was given to supervisors, institutes or students.
I would recommend you ... to find a meaningful thesis topic somebody cares about or you can use for your own purposes in your bright future to come.
My bachelor thesis is about ... how socially and economically sustainable a reduction in working time is.
I wrote with ... Barbara Haas at the Department of Socioeconomics.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... it is generally known that free time for hobbies, family, friends and themselves becomes increasingly important for employees. I was interested in finding out if and how shorter working hours can have a positive impact on employees and the society.
My impact is ... showing that reduced working hours can be beneficial for employees as well as their employers. Employees have more time to invest in voluntary work, education and their family, which contributes to a more gender-equal distribution of housework. Depending on the job, employers profit from less sickness-related absenteeism and higher productivity of their employees. Furthermore, shorter working hours can improve the employees’ satisfaction, which makes them stay longer in the company. Therefore, costs for recruiting new staff can be reduced.
I was surprised to find out that ... all six companies that I presented in my thesis found that the productivity and motivation of their employees increased. This shows that people appreciate and profit from additional recreation time and therefore want to show that the results do not suffer.
I would recommend companies ... giving a working time reduction a try, if they face problems like unmotivated, dissatisfied and sick employees or a high employee turnover. However, if the work depends on one specific person or has to be done in a specific period of time, costs may exceed profits.
Denise received the Award for the best bachelor thesis in ZuWi 2.
My bachelor thesis is about ... non-financial risk reporting from Austrian listed companies.
I wrote with ... Josef Baumüller at the Institute of International Accounting.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... it is currently extremely relevant due to increasing discussions of social and environmental change.
My impact is ... to educate myself (and hopefully others) on topics of corporate sustainability in a time of rapidly changing legal requirements.
I was surprised to find out that ... small inconsistencies and inclarities in legal wording can have massive financial implications for reporting entities and can kick-start heated literary debate.
I would recommend you... to seriously consider the scope and methodology of a thesis topic before accepting it to prevent your thesis from becoming three times longer than you had planned!
My master thesis is about ... how the “Greta effect” influenced the environmental self-identities and apparel buying behavior of Austrian students.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... sustainability has always been important to me. A lack of sustainability courses in my modules motivated me to write my thesis on a topic related to it.
My impact is ... explaining the change in consumer behavior towards sustainability and quantifying it through my empirical study.
I was surprised to find out ... how difficult it is to quantify the impact of the fashion industry and how little research is publicly accessible compared to the vast amount that is kept by the companies.
I would recommend you ... to devote enough time to find the topic you want to write about and to get as much help as possible (friends, professors etc.). There are so many fields of research and possibilities on sustainability, which can be fascinating, but also overwhelming.
My master thesis is about ... the evolution of technology and social structures with a case study of space technologies.
I wrote with ... Manuel Scholz-Wäckerle at the Department for Socioeconomics.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... our lives, societies, and ecosystems are being rapidly transformed by technologies and yet we lack understanding of what factors contribute to the evolution of technologies. I focus on the space technologies as a case study since 'a new space race' led by private companies is maturing into a significant domain.
My impact is ... showing that we need much stronger international co-ordination and regulation of outer space activities. Please see my poster from technology assessment conference, here.
I was surprised to find out that ... our cultural evolution is lagging behind non-linear rate of combinatorial technological evolution. Our tendency to seek primarily technical solutions to complex social and ecological challenges under the paradigm of perpetual economic growth exacerbates existential risks.
I would recommend you ... more critical, complex systemic and adaptive approach to navigate challenges (both personal and social).
Pat published an insightful popularization of his master thesis on medium.
My master thesis is about ... mining and social conflict in Latin America.
I wrote with ... Stefan Giljum at the Institute of Ecological Economics.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... I already wrote my bachelor thesis on the petroleum and natural gas industry in Bolivia and that has raised my interest to investigate mining conflicts in Latin America in my master thesis.
My impact is ... raising awareness for the environmental injustice occuring in mining in Latin America and the local communities and marginalized groups that suffer the most.
I was surprised to find out that ... the violence level of conflict doesn't depend on the type of mining resource.
I would recommend you ... to not underestimate the time needed to find a topic, a supervisor, research questions and literature before you actually start writing your thesis.
Mara published an insightful popularization of her master thesis on medium.
Business Law Theses
My bachelor thesis is about ... how the Austrian civil law system allows for potential civil climate litigation that would hold those accountable that cause damages by impacting the climate.
I wanted to write about this topic because ... of the topicality of climate damages and international developments in civil climate liability. A precedent case that has caught global attention is about a Peruvian farmer who sued the German energy conglomerate RWE for the costs associated with protecting his fields against drowning in meltwater from a nearby glacier.
My impact is ... exposing that under the current Austrian tort law, climate litigation is barely feasible and new regulation is needed if emitters shall be held accountable for damages caused.
I was surprised to find out that ... that despite increasing attention from researchers in other jurisdictions, Austrian academia has barely touched upon this topic.
I would recommend you ... to dare exploring research fields that are not widely covered in academia yet in order to truly drive research forward, no matter how early in your academic career.
My master thesis is about ... the exclusion of the suspensive effect of complaints in environmental law which lead to the result that project applicants can start with their construction work right away, even though the administrative approval has been challenged by an environmental NGO or other. The hasty conduct of the construction work can then lead to an environmental damage which, even in the case of a successful remedy, cannot be reversed (think of the hasty clearance of a forest – once a tree is cut, it’s cut).
I wanted to write about this topic because ... I learned more about this prevailing issue during my legal internship at ÖKOBÜRO and figured that my results could be useful to denounce the recent legislative change in § 43a of the Upper Austrian Nature Conversation Act.
My impact is ... to argue, that the exclusion of the suspensive effect in environmental law is neither consistent with the European nor with the Austrian constitutional law and its principles.
I was surprised to find out that ... I would enjoy writing on a seemingly dry topic as the suspensive effect of complaints that much. This is partly due to fact that I chose to analyse this legal matter on a "real case". Hence, my joy was also fueled by some questionable court decisions and commentaries on § 43a of the Upper Austrian Nature Conversation Act, which I wanted to analyse in more detail.
I would recommend you ... to start your thesis by drafting a clear, logic and consistent table of content and to then make sure to stick to it – otherwise you will run into danger to end up in a legal Odyssey which has no beginning and no end!
© 2020 by STaR; compiled by Dorian Aigner.