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How to Write a Master's Thesis: The Content

Front Pages

Oficially required formalities such as front page, declaration of independent work, dedication, abstract, etc. Must be part of the thesis, must appear in the correct order and must look like EXACTLY like prescribed by the Guidelines for Writing a Master Thesis. The good news is that if you downloaded the official LaTeX template, all these have already been sorted out for you as part of the template. You only have to fill in the blank fields.

The Title Page

Please make sure you spell your supervisor's name and academic titles correctly. It is only such a little, boring thing, and nobody will be petty enough to actually complain openly, but it does look a wee bit inconsiderate if you misspell your supervisor's name and forget half of his titles or do not bother to look them up at all.

The year of your thesis should be the year of your submission, not the year you set up the LaTeX template :)


The Dedication is usually one paragraph or two paragraphs sitting on an otherwise empty page in the beginning section of your thesis. It is basically a small Oscar Acceptance Speech in which you want to thank all those who helped you through insufferable and horrible pain of sweating out some passable text inspiring and enjoyable process of creating the work of your life. It is usually the most personal (or the only personal) part of your thesis. It is considered good manners to thank your advisor in the first place and then whoever helped you professionally. Also your parents and partner/spouse. You can go ahead with phrases like:

You get the idea :)



I believe Introduction determines the success of your thesis since it gives the first impression to the reader. Does it introduce the topic comprehensively? Do I understand what the thesis is about? Can the author express themselves well? Is the thesis worth reading or am I going to waste my time?

Truth to be told, most people, including some very busy committee members, will actually get to digest the Abstract and the Introduction before moving to the supervisor's and opponent's reviews. Therefore, I suggest investing extra care in the Introduction. By extra care I mean it should be, along with the Abstract, the most thought upon, rewritten and proof-read part of your thesis.

A good experimental/scientific thesis has what I call “a story”. A story is a consistent narrative which is told throughout the entire writing, an umbrella for all your thoughts, a red line running throughout the work. A story is opened in Introduction and it is usually a scientific question or an unsolved problem. You don't just simply write “We added BERT to something because we felt like doing it/my supervisor told me to do it/it helps with something else/it was easy enough/there is a library for it.” (Even though it is what you actually ended up doing.) Instead, you present a hypothesis in Introduction, your thesis then validates it and you conclude so in Conclusion.

For some theses it may feel a little forced or downright impossible to make up a story, for example if you are writing what is a basically an application user manual. Anyways, it is always good to hold a greater picture of your writing from the Introduction to the Conclusion before you actually start writing.

The Introduction usually starts with a broader introduction of the thesis topic. The purpose of the first paragraphs is to put your thesis topic in greater context, explaining why the task is important, presenting a motivation for your thesis. From the top of my head, an example of introduction about opinion mining: “Every day, people freely express their opinions on social media. Understanding these opinions is important, but increasingly more difficult as there is more and more data. Opinion mining is a field of natural language processing (NLP), which … (description of the task)…”. Generally, you are striving for a “greater-good-for-humanity” motivation, or “interesting-scientific-question” motivation, as opposed to “my-supervisor-suggested-the-topic” or “it-seemed-easy-enough”. Beware of too personal a motivation, such as “I have been doing this topic for years, so it seemed logical to continue in it.” or “I do this for a living, so I might as well make a thesis out of it.”.

By the way, a stylistic note: Many papers start with words like “Recently,” or “These days,”, “Currently” or some such expression. It is very widespread and safe way to start an essay. It certainly gives a sense of generalization (which may be a good or a bad thing). Some consider it a little cliché, not terribly creative and even bad writing style. Some have no opinion on the subject (just checked with a colleague of mine). In my opinion, it is a safe, but unimpressive opening.

The central part of the Introduction will describe what you did from a high-level perspective, not yet how exactly you did it (at least not in detail, that is reserved for the Methodology section). You will want to explain the problem you solved to the reader, assuming that they know very little of the task. In this phase, it is usually not necessary to give exact definitions or formulas, you rather approach the topic with a broader view. An example of the task, if applicable, is always a good idea.

Rarely for master's thesis, more often for doctoral thesis, you may wish to devote one paragraph to the exact description of your contribution in particular. This happens if the work described is a team effort and you wish to distinguish your own work. You may then write that, for example, that the work was a team effort and your contribution was the implementation of all (or such and such) TensorFlow scripts and measuring most of the experiments, and also (substantial/good) degree of writing of the joint publication (if there is a publication).

The Introduction often, but not necessarily, ends with one paragraph which lists the Sections and their content (example from Mulang et al., 2020): “The structure of the paper is follows: next section defines the task followed by related work in 3. Section 4 describes approach and we present experiments in section 5. We conclude in section 6.” . (You would obviously replace “paper” for “thesis”.)





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