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Master Thesis Information Studies

These regulations specify the conditions that apply to the Master thesis of the Information Studies programme. In all cases in which these regulations do not provide, the exam committee will decide. In the Master Information Studies both terms dissertation, thesis, and in Dutch ‘scriptie’ are being used synonymously.

  • Update!

    The information below will be updated soon for the academic year 2021/2022. Are you writing your thesis in 2021/2022 please check back in September 2021.

  • Thesis process

    The thesis project is a mandatory part of the MSc programme Information Studies. The thesis is to be performed in a two‐stage process.

    The first stage is covered by the Thesis Design, in which the students describe the problem, research question, methodology followed to answer the research question, and a schedule.

    The second stage is the actual thesis project. This project has to be conducted as an individual project about a topic within the realm of Information Studies, approved by the master thesis coordinator (if applicable) or the track-coordinator.

  • Thesis objectives

    The focus of the thesis research will be the scientific study of a problem oriented towards actual research themes in academia and society. The thesis project provides students with first-hand experience in working with established scientists or industry experts during a prolonged period of time. The research project’s objective is to give the student an opportunity to acquire practical experience of quantitative and qualitative scientific research methods and to learn to work independently. In addition, the student has the opportunity to discover gaps in his knowledge or skills and fill these.

    The learning objectives of the research project comprise, that after completion of the thesis project, the student:

      • is able to formulate a clear research question in the field of information studies and design a plan to answer that question
      • can show state‐of‐the‐art knowledge in the area of the research project based on the relevant literature by applying in a practical situation
      • is able to process the research data and to critically judge the obtained results in relation to the goals and the line of research of which the research project is part
      • is able to describe and critically discuss the above activities in a written report, in which the methodology is accounted for and the original phrasing is substantiated
      • is able to  present and discuss the results to a scientific and non-scientific audience
      • is able to function in a professional environment
  • Thesis topic

    The project will be carried out in an IS setting, such as trade, industry,  governmental or non-profit organizations, or within the university on an IS related topic. In cases where the topic is beyond the field or if students wish to perform a joined project, the Board of Examiners will have to approve the proposed project before the start of the thesis trajectory. Also, students may carry out the research project at an equivalent organization abroad.

    Because of the interdisciplinary character of the Information Science programme, the type of master theses varies. The most common research formats are:

      • Empirical research, as used in social and economic science.
      • Analysis of existing theories regarding an Information Science issue.
      • Design/Prototype/Evaluation of a complex information, knowledge or media system, or a new design approach or new algorithm for such a system.
      • Report with policy recommendations regarding a complex organizational issue, where the recommendations are explicitly based on theories of the information science domain.
      • Experimental evaluation and/or specialization of a design approach or algorithm for a specific application domain
  • Thesis Fair

    The IS Thesis Fair is an opportunity for you to meet with up to 10 organisations and discuss their offered projects with the hope that you will match with one of them.

    In order to participate in the Fair you must vote for 10-15 organisations on DataNose. The organisations include local and international companies, startups, government agencies, and non-profits. You vote on individual projects and then the organisation appears on your voting ranked list. This ensures you have at least 10-15 organisations that you rank.

    The projects are available on DataNose and you vote for the projects you are interested in. A schedule will be generated for you based upon your ranked top 15 projects. 

  • Thesis design

    The Thesis Design is performed by the student as individual work but supported by the supervisor. Students may propose a supervisor, or ask the master‐thesis coordinator for assistance in finding one.

    Students have to write a report of max. 5 pages all inclusive, in which he or she has to describe the problem that will be addressed in the thesis project, the relevance of the problem based on a literature survey,  the resulting research question, the methodological approach to answer the research question and potential sub questions, and a schedule that emphasizes how the different pieces of the thesis work can be achieved within the given time frame until the end of the programme. The report needs to be written in English. The final approval is done by the supervisor,. The final electronic version of the Thesis Design will be submitted (via datanose) and signed by the supervisor and student on the cover page.

  • Thesis project

    A master thesis is defined as ‘an individually written record of the student’s performed original research or design of a scientific nature’. It is an original, independent piece of work especially composed for this occasion containing the creative ideas of the student. Claims, hypotheses, policy recommendations and design choices need to be supported with arguments based on existing theory or empirical evidence.

    The master thesis cannot consist of copied resources (internet, books, and journals), unless properly quoted, and that the material has not already been submitted elsewhere (other courses, study programmes, universities) with the aim to receive study credits for this. The master thesis can however, elaborate on previously submitted work, as long as it is clear which contribution of the student has been submitted for which study programme component.

  • Start conditions and duration

    A student can only start working on the master thesis when the following requirements have been met: 

      • all obligations, as stated in Article B-4.2 of the TER (Teaching and Examination Regulations), have been fulfilled and if the student’s study programme has been approved by the Examinations Board, except the Master Thesis itself; 
      • all but one course from the first semester have been passed; 
      • The Thesis Design is approved by the supervisor following the formal requirements as explained in Appendix C.
      • The Thesis Design is approved within the given deadline.
      • The thesis supervisor and the MSc student have signed the thesis agreement, which specifies the formal requirements of the thesis, as described in Appendix A.

    The duration for a MSc Information Studies thesis, between its starting date and the date on which the thesis needs to be submitted, is 12 weeks for students who are enrolled as full‐time student.

  • Thesis supervision

    In order to improve the effectiveness of the learning process and provide the means so master students will succeed mastering their research within the time given, each student has access to supervision on a general basis (approximately one hour per week). The supervisor will give individual feedback on the work as well as more generic advice on the research itself. Specific arrangements can be made with the supervisor.

    Students can choose to do their thesis internally or at an external company. The main supervisor can be from within the university or externally from the organization where the research is conducted. In the latter case the external needs to be able to supervise the student based on academic experience (a PhD degree) or due to gained work experience. The approval of an external examiner/supervisor is up to the judgment of the Board of Examiners.

    The second examiner has to be member of the UvA academic staff, and must be qualified for examination which means that (s)he should be part of the permanent academic staff of a department involved in the study programme (Information Science).

    Supervision models

    There are several forms in which the thesis process can be executed.

    Model 1: individual supervision. This is the current default model. A student has an internal daily supervisor who typically is also the 1st examiner. Student and internal supervisor have weekly meetings of up to 1 hour. If the student has an additional external supervisor, who has 1 contact hours with students individually or in group form, the student and internal supervisor may have meetings of up to 1 hour every other week.

    Model 2: topic supervision. In this model, the internal supervisor supervises a group of students on the same topic.  Student and internal supervisor have bi-weekly individual meetings of up to 1 hour.  In addition, students and supervisor have a weekly group meeting of 1 hour.  If the student has an additional external supervisor, student and internal supervisor have bi-weekly 1/2 hour meetings.

    Model 3: project supervision. In this model the internal supervisor, supervises a group of students on the same project. Students may work as a team on the same data set and on the same research question, but write an own individual thesis. Students and internal supervisor have individual meetings of up to 1 hour every three weeks. In addition, students and supervisor have project meetings every three weeks, and students have peer meetings every other week as well.

  • Mid-term evaluation

    In week 7 a mid-term evaluation will be performed, of which the results are documented in the mid-term evaluation form (Appendix C). The mid‐term evaluation form, which will be passed on to the central thesis coordination, will be used to make some adjustments to the master thesis research, all to be decided by the examiner. Based on the mid‐term evaluation the examiner may decide to also adjust the research period. The examiner will decide in week 12, based on the draft master thesis, if the candidate will be allowed to do the master thesis defence.

  • Thesis report language, design, and volume 

    The master thesis has to be written in English.

    The size of a 18 EC master thesis may not exceed 10 pages ACM paper format, excluding cover page , bibliography and appendices.

  • Thesis defence

    Within the programme, students must present and defend their thesis. The presentation and defense will be held after the thesis has been approved by the supervisor(s). The presentation and defense will be public and cannot be held later than the first week of August of an academic year. One week before the defense, the final version of the thesis has to be submitted via DataNose to allow for plagiarism check.

    The presentation lasts 10 - 15 minutes and has to be performed in English. Then a Question and Answering session follows (15 minutes), where first the audience, the examiner and the supervisor are allowed to ask questions (in that order). Once this part is concluded, the examiners retreat to discuss the grade. Once the decision is made, manifested in the Thesis Assessment Form, they inform the student about the outcome. Based on the consent of the student they then either inform the audience about the grade or they simply state if the student succeeded or failed.

    The examiner will then submit the Thesis Assessment Form on Datanose and both supervisor and examiner will approve the grade which will be validated by the examiner. 


  • Thesis assessment

    Master theses are always assessed by at least two examiners, namely the supervisor and an examiner assigned by the Board of Examiners (the student and/or the supervisor can suggest a second examiner). When the master thesis is finished, it will be submitted via Datanose. The students also mails the pdf version to both examiners. The supervisor will ensure that the second examiner evaluates the thesis. Both examiners determine if the thesis is good enough to be publicly defended. Theses that have been handed in too late will be considered insufficient.

    The conduction of the master research, the master thesis, the presentation and defence will all be taken into consideration for deciding on the grade. A specific assessment form will be used for this (Appendix D). Deviations from the agreed research period will also be taken into consideration and have an effect on the grade.

    If the master thesis does not meet the requirements sufficiently, the student is offered a one-time opportunity to improve the thesis according to the feedback given during the thesis defence. The maximum period assigned to a student to improve an insufficient thesis is:

      • 3weeks for a student, enrolled full-time
      • 6 weeks for a student, enrolled part‐time

    During the period when the improvements are made, the student has a right to the previous amount of supervision. Should the improved thesis version again be of insufficient quality the thesis is considered failed.

    If it was decided to start a new thesis, the entire process starts again, of course, under the requirements as stated in these regulations. For the assessment of master theses a fixed period of 20 working days exists in accordance with the Student Charter(?) of the University of Amsterdam. July and August should be taken into account as a longer period because of the holidays.

  • Storage regulations for master thesis

    The thesis had to be submitted via Datanaose where a plagiarism check will be performed.

    A copy of each MSc IS thesis has to be included in UvA’s digital library. The student can only gain the diploma once the thesis has been uploaded.

    If the student believes that certain information used in the Master's thesis should remain confidential, he should make a request for suspension of the public at the Board of Examiners. A written request must be made, properly motivated and countersigned by the supervisor. The student should submit the application once it is known that information is confidential, but no later than two weeks before the final date of the thesis.

    The student can opt for one of the following three options: a limited confidentiality (up to three years) or an extension thereof (up to six years, but only in exceptional cases), or a parallel version of the thesis, i.e. a thesis in which confidential information has been removed or otherwise anonymous. In all cases, approval by the Board of Examiners is required.

    If a Master thesis is confidential (with the permission of the Board of Examiners), the master's thesis will be stored in the library, but cannot be viewed for the agreed period. The Master thesis, in that case, can only be seen by the writer, the supervisor, the examiner and the Board of Examiners. If requested, confidential papers may also be viewed by external visitation committees or accreditation bodies, who nationally assess the education quality.

  • Objections and appeals

    Try to solve a complaint or conflict with the person in question, if necessary with the study adviser present as an independent third party. Problems that cannot be solved in this manner may be submitted to the Board of Examiners. Decisions of the Board of Examiners can be appealed at the Examination Appeals Board. The study adviser can help you find your way when serious problems occur.