Master’s theses are academic papers intended to demonstrate that the author is capable of independently dealing with scientific topics in a factually and methodologically correct manner. In master’s programs, the thesis accounts for 20 of your total ECTS credits. This is roughly equivalent to 500 hours or 55 working days. Students should select a topic that can be completed within a period of 6 months.
Previously written papers that are less comprehensive than a master’s thesis (e.g. seminar papers or bachelor’s theses) can be further developed and submitted as a master thesis. Please note that you have to quote your own previous work (i.e. your seminar paper or bachelor’s thesis) to avoid self-plagiarism. Longer, more comprehensive papers (e.g. dissertations or PhD theses) cannot be condensed and submitted as master’s theses, as the amount of work required in this case would be minimal.
Two or more students can work on a joint topic for their master’s thesis, as long as each student’s individual contribution can be clearly identified and graded separately. The supervisor has the final say on whether a topic is suitable for a joint project.
Selecting a Topic and a Supervisor
In principle, students are free to select both their thesis topic and their supervisor themselves. Any faculty member who holds a venia docendi (habilitation) may supervise master’s theses. The topic must be selected from one of the compulsory or elective subjects specified in the program’s curriculum. Please contact the appropriate program coordinator for information on the faculty members entitled to supervise master’s theses in your degree program. Students are permitted to change supervisors up until the date of submission of the thesis.
An application for approval must be submitted in writing if you want to work with an external supervisor, e.g. a habilitated faculty member from another university in Austria or abroad. This always requires special permission from the Vice-Rector for Academic Programs and Student Affairs. If you are interested in working with an external supervisor, please contact Student Support well ahead of time (allow about 2 months for processing).
The guidelines for the Grading of Master's theses can be found here.
Thesis Supervision Agreement
You will be notified by email to your WU account as soon as a thesis supervision agreement has been created and entered for you. Your thesis can only be graded if you have a valid supervision agreement. Please note that additional supervision conditions may apply as specified by your supervisor and co-supervisor. If you fail to comply with the conditions specified by your supervisor and co-supervisor, the supervision agreement may be cancelled.
Thesis Submission and Evaluation
Master’s theses are submitted electronically using the LEARN learning and information portal. All theses submitted for evaluation are subjected to plagiarism detection. You have to fill out the cover page electronically and include it at the very beginning of the thesis document. The cover page must be included in the file containing your thesis when you submit it via LEARN. Once the submission is completed, the thesis and the results of the plagiarism check are made available to your supervisor for evaluation. Evaluation must be completed within two months of submission of the thesis. The supervisor will give the student feedback on his or her work and provide reasons for the grade assigned to the work in writing.
One hardcover copy of the master’s thesis must be handed in to the Examinations Office when you come to pick up your graduation documents, and your institute may also require an additional copy.
Please be sure to double-check the data you’ve entered when you submit your thesis on LEARN. Following approval by your supervisor, this data will be transmitted to the LPIS system and used for generating your graduation documents.
The author of the thesis can request to have an embargo placed on the copies submitted. For more information, please see the Guideline on Placing an Embargo on an Academic Thesis.
Plagiarism and Its Legal Consequences
Master’s theses are subject to the applicable stipulations regarding plagiarism and intellectual property rights as laid down in study regulations, academic legislation, and copyright laws.
A work is considered to be plagiarized if it incorporates texts, contents, or ideas produced by someone else and passes them off as the author’s own. This is the case especially when parts of texts, theories, hypotheses, findings, or data are incorporated into a work verbatim or in paraphrased or translated form without identifying these elements as quotations and referencing the original sources and authors.
Students are considered to have committed academic fraud if they pass off texts written by a third party as their own (i.e. ghostwriting) and if they present fabricated or falsified data or findings.
If the supervisor detects plagiarism during the evaluation process, this can result in a negative evaluation of the thesis and/or withdrawal of supervision. If plagiarism is detected after the thesis has been evaluated or after the student has completed his or her studies, the grade for the thesis can be declared invalid and the academic degree may be revoked.