TAMK Student's Handbook
Thesis at TAMK (student's guide)
- 3.1 Steps in thesis process
- 3.2 Thesis types
- 3.3 Topic approval, supervision and thesis plan
- 3.4 Method studies and thesis seminars
- 3.5 Thesis and data protection
- 3.6 Peer review
- 5.1 Thesis contract
- 5.2 Working-life representative’s role in thesis process
- 5.3 Research ethics guidelines
- 5.4 Thesis and copyrights
- 6.1 Written thesis report
- 6.2 Oral thesis presentation
- 6.3 Thesis publicity
- 6.4 Thesis publication
- 6.5 Archiving a thesis
- 8.1 Maturity test and its language
- 8.2 Writing the maturity test
- 8.3 Assessment of the maturity test
The thesis is an independent study performance in your studies. Its scope within bachelor's degrees is 15 credits (cr) and 30 cr in master's degrees. The thesis is graded separately on the degree certificate.
The thesis process includes contact teaching, seminars, thesis supervision and independent work. The content requirements are further specified within each degree programme.
The thesis may be written by one student or by two students in cooperation. The degree programme specific guidelines and appropriateness have to be considered. Multidisciplinary theses covering two or more degree programmes are also possible. In case assessments will be made separately for the students, the independent share of each student must be reported in a field- or thesis-specific way.
In some special circumstances, it is possible for a thesis to be partially or fully transferred. Credit transfer is agreed upon separately on a degree programme basis and is subject to its own set of rules.
The objective of the bachelor's degree is to develop and demonstrate your capabilities in applying your knowledge and skills in practical expert tasks pertaining to the professional studies. The objective of the master's degree is to develop your professional skills and ability to apply research information in demanding specialist and management assignments of your field.
The thesis requirement levels have been stipulated within the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the Finnish National Framework for Qualifications and Other Competence Modules (FiNQF). Thesis guidelines are also available in TAMK’s Degree Regulations.
At universities of applied sciences thesis topics are usually based on working-life needs. They can be related to TAMK’s projects, be given by an outside commissioner or you may suggest the topic yourself. The topic is good when you find it interesting, it answers practical needs, is relevant to the professional field and its potential development, takes into account your capabilities, is financially interesting and of current interest. Courage, creativity and originality are assets when choosing the thesis topic.
The objective is that every student learns to gather information independently, analyse data critically, solve problems, reason and debate, study and develop work practices and communicate in writing as well as orally in an articulate manner.
The thesis always has a research or development objective. The objective can be, for example, to develop the workplace orientation practices for new staff. The practical measures to reach the above-mentioned objective are called the purpose of the thesis. Construction of an orientation file and mapping of different orientation practices are examples of thesis purposes. Further field-specific examples of the thesis objective and purpose will be given within each degree programme.
Questions for structuring, framing and directing the thesis implementation need to be posed. In the context of quantitative research these questions are generally called research problems. In the context of qualitative research they are called research tasks.
Good information searching skills help you in the thesis process. You can update your skills in the trainings organized by the library.
The thesis advances by stages from topic selection to assessment and publication of the finished thesis. The main features of the process are described in the figure below (figure 1), gate model for the thesis. Reaching each stage makes it possible to pass through the gate and to proceed to the next stage. Details of the thesis process will be specified in the process chart (in Finnish), following subchapters and course implementation plans of each degree programme.
FIGURE 1. Gate model for the thesis
The thesis supervision and management system Wihi was introduced at TAMK on 1 January 2021. Theses which are begun in 2021 or later are documented on Wihi. Thesis communication and file exchange mainly take place through it. Students have credits at phases 3, 4 and 5 (courses 1-3).
To complete the phase 3 or the Thesis Planning course (5 cr), students must have an approved thesis plan, thesis contract or permit and possibly other study performances defined by the degree programme. The phase 4 (Thesis Implementation course) calls for implementation of the empirical, theoretical and/or functional part. As the thesis progresses, the two above-mentioned courses are automatically entered from the Wihi system to the study register with a temporary marking (s).
The thesis process phase 5 or the Thesis Reporting course calls for written reporting, plagiarism check, publication, maturity test and possibly other study performances required by the degree programme. When the thesis and process are ready, they are assessed numerically (1-5) as a whole based on the thesis assessment criteria. The final grade is automatically transferred to the study register to all the three completed courses.
There are various types of theses, including research, functional theses, projects, theoretical theses, art project theses or case-like theses. Theses may consist of various reporting, planning, manufacturing and development tasks performed for the needs of the society and practical working life.
The thesis may consist of research. It may include measuring, interviews or surveys and related analyses and interpretations. It can also consist of planning, implementation and organisation of an event, marketing campaign, software application, product development plan, new product, work of art, learning material or portfolio. The thesis typically includes careful examination of prior research, literature and other materials.
The topic of the thesis is approved by a person appointed by the head of the school or manager of a degree programme. The topic must be approved before you start doing the thesis.
A supervisor is always appointed for the thesis. You always agree on personal thesis supervision with the supervising teacher. The supervision is especially important at the initial stage as the objective, purpose, extent and structure are considered and specified. Supervision gives you advice on acquiring relevant literature and selecting a proper approach, working procedures and potential methods for acquiring necessary material.
The thesis supervisor is bound by professional secrecy and prohibition of use regarding the student's thesis idea drafts, thesis plans, research data and all classified information during and after the thesis process.
A thesis plan is drawn up for every thesis. The thesis plan includes the topic, literary background, objective, purpose of the thesis, implementation plan and schedule. The objective of discussing the plan is to specifically assist in setting of a proper framework for the thesis as well as in method solutions. The plan is enclosed to the thesis contract (see the thesis contract section 5.1).
The thesis process includes method studies, orientation studies and seminars. If needed, you may also complete method studies as free-choice studies or optional advanced studies in master’s degree programmes. You may update and deepen your information search skills in courses arranged by the library.
To back up the thesis process, seminars and negotiations are organised with the thesis supervisor and commissioner, as agreed within each degree programme. As a student, you will present your work and receive feedback and development suggestions from both supervisors and other students at these meetings. Between these discussions you will work on your thesis. You are responsible for keeping in touch with the supervisor and commissioner and, if necessary, you will receive individual, group or online supervision. The ready thesis is presented as agreed on in the degree programme. See instructions for thesis presentation in section 6.2.
RDI and thesis projects must be carried out in compliance with the requirements set out in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Under the GDPR, processing is a broad concept that refers to all operations performed of personal data, such as collection, processing, storage and disposal.
When students process personal data in connection with their thesis, they are responsible for the lawful processing of personal data. Although students generally serve as data controllers and are responsible for data protection compliance when processing personal data in connection with their thesis or other assignment, the thesis supervisor must advise students on the appropriate processing of personal data. TAMK students follow the common instructions of Tampere University and TAMK.
Peer review offered by another student serves to support you by offering constructive feedback and development suggestions with relation to the thesis. Peer review takes place through joint meetings, seminars or online. Each degree programme offers further instructions on peer review.
Working as a peer reviewer during the thesis process trains you to have a critical attitude to contents, discern the essential, analyse as well as comment. It also helps to develop your capability to accept criticism and respond to thesis-related questions in an argumentative manner. In seminars peer review often produces ideas and perspectives useful for all team members.
If you complete the thesis of a double degree at the other higher education institution, it will be published in accordance with TAMK's thesis guidelines regardless of its language. In this case you will also complete the maturity test in accordance with TAMK's guidelines.
The thesis has to conform to the needs of working life and develop professional practices, knowledge and skills. Working life representative can represent a company, a public organization, or TAMK's development project.
The thesis project always involves a thesis contract:
The thesis contract is concluded between the working life partner, university of applied sciences and you. Some cooperation partners require a thesis permit or research permit. Degree programmes provide more detailed guidelines on it.
You can request all parties’ digital signatures on the contract by using the AtomiSign. Sign in with Microsoft. Click "New signing request", fill in the requested information, add the thesis contract to be signed and enclose the thesis plan. At Options, select “SMS authentication” as the authentication method and “sequential” as the signature order. At “Participants”, first enter the contact information of the thesis author(s) (including yourself), then the supervisor and finally the working life partner. Send the request. If necessary, you can find more detailed instructions below:
Save the signed thesis contract or thesis permit form on Wihi for archiving with the heading Thesis Contract.
A research permit usually means the organisation's permission to contact its staff or members in matters related to the thesis or other research. Each organisation has its permit policies. Some organisations have specific permit forms which must be filled in. The target organisation can also grant the permit to the thesis author by email. In this case, the permit applies in accordance with the thesis contract (attached to the email).
With commissioned theses, the commissioner appoints a contact person to represent the commissioner. The company, organisation or community representative together with you and thesis supervisor participate in defining the thesis objectives and planning the implementation.
The working-life representative is responsible for potential thesis cooperation within the enterprise or institution. If possible the representative will offer content supervision and information needed for writing the thesis and will be responsible for other matters stipulated in the thesis contract. The representative will also provide you with a written statement on the thesis.
Universities of applied sciences are committed to the guidelines for research ethics, issued by the National Advisory Board on Research Ethics. They apply to all theses made at universities of applied sciences. A prerequisite for ethical acceptability, reliability and credibility is that the thesis has been conducted in accordance with good scientific practice. All authors are personally responsible for following these instructions in their work.
Good scientific practice is that you
- respect honesty, general diligence and accuracy in research, saving and presentation of results and evaluation of research and its results
- apply ethically sustainable information gathering, research and evaluation methods and implement the open nature of scientific knowledge when publishing your research results
- take due account of the work and achievements of other researchers by respecting their work and giving their achievements the value and importance they deserve in your research and publication of your results
- make sure your thesis is planned, implemented and reported in detail to meet the requirements for scientific information
- make sure the position, rights, responsibilities and share of the authorship of the members of your research team, as well as the issues of ownership and retention of research results are defined and recorded prior to initiation of the research or recruitment of a researcher into the group.
An obstacle to high-quality research may be lack of professional ethics of the researcher. This can manifest itself as violations of good scientific practice. They can be categorised as disregard for good scientific practice and fraud in scientific activity. Disregard for good scientific practice is manifested by gross negligence and recklessness in conducting the research. Disregard may occur in understatement of others’ efforts in a publication, inadequate reference to previous research results or negligent reporting of the used methods. Fraud in scientific activity and theses implies misleading which can be accomplished by forging, distortion, unauthorised borrowing or stealing.
In the thesis, plagiarism may lead to rejection of the entire thesis. An anti-plagiarism software (eg Turnitin) can be used to search for possible plagiarism during the thesis process.
The instructions above have been compiled from the Finnish National Board of Research Integrity’s website. For more information on ethical issues in the health care sector, see also the National Advisory Board on Social Welfare and Health Care Ethics’ publication Shared values in health care, common goals and principles (2001).
Arene updated ethical recommendations for theses at universities of applied sciences on 9 January 2020. They can be found through the link below:
Ethical Recommendations for Theses in Universities of Applied Sciences (webpage in Finnish, publication also in English).
In completing your thesis, you have to follow the guidelines on data protection in studies – general instructions for students and teaching staff. The guidelines written in the spirit of the Privacy Protection Act specify data protection responsibilities of supervisors and students as regards theses. Both supervisors and students have to follow the guidelines.
In the thesis process, copyright issues are relevant firstly when using existing material (source material) and evaluating the conditions for using the material and secondly when estimating what rights are generated for author(s) of the thesis and the potential need for transfer of these rights. In addition to or instead of copyright, use of material may also be restricted by regulations concerning protection of privacy, business or professional secrecy, trademarks, contractual encumbrances or good scientific practice.
Although thesis made at universities of applied sciences are often commissioned from the outside, the copyright of the thesis mainly remains with the student and normally it is not necessary to transfer it to the commissioner. The commissioner naturally has the opportunity to utilise information and development suggestions of the thesis without copyright. If the thesis itself or its attachments include material that the commissioner needs to use in a copyright-relevant manner (edit or distribution rights), the transfer of rights must be agreed separately. Such material may for example be a separate guidebook, educational material, computer program or programming work, visual material, drawings and sound or image recordings. In this case, the parties (ie the student and commissioner) must on a case-by-case basis consider the form of the contract, extent of the transfer of rights and potential compensation.
TAMK has a collective licence by Kopiosto (national copyright organisation) for use of digital material for educational purposes (teachers and students), for example in theses.
Further information: Continued use of the Creative Commons licence (in Finnish). Notes on using the Creative Commons licence
A written report is always made on each TAMK thesis. In Finnish-language degree programmes, the thesis may be written in some other language than the language of instruction when appropriate and when TAMK’s supervisor has a command of the language. In foreign-language degree programmes the language of instruction must be used when writing the thesis (see Degree Regulations). The report includes essential matters as regards choice of the topic, theoretical bases, method or implementation, results and conclusions. The contents emphases of the report may vary within each degree programme.
Thesis reports are compiled in a uniform manner at TAMK. Its wording must be explicit and in accordance with good matter-of-fact style. The instructions for writing are available in a seprate Report Guide, in which you can also find the thesis report template with specific settings.
It is possible to present the thesis as a poster in addition to the written report. A poster is a placard consisting of text and graphic presentations which depict the key points of the thesis.
You present your thesis at a public thesis presentation seminar or another agreed event. It can also be presented at an event agreed on with the commissioner. The presentation practices vary between the degree programmes. Virtual presentation is also possible.
Prepare for the oral thesis presentation by clarifying the following:
- who are the listeners?
- what do the listeners already know about the subject?
- where is the presentation held?
- which presentation tools do you need and how much time do you have for your presentation?
Prepare the structure of your presentation carefully. It includes:
- an interesting start (background, 5-25 % of the available time)
- structured and carefully selected main content (70-80% of the time)
- ending (conclusions or summary, 5-10% of the time)
Prepare concise and interesting illustration material and learn how to use the technical visualisation devices in advance.
The presentation situation is led by a chairperson selected from the student group or by the supervising teacher. At the beginning of the presentation, you and your subject will be introduced to the audience. As a performer, you engage listeners by asking questions, telling examples or asking for comments. As a performer you speak to the audience. Prepare to answer questions.
A thesis report is a public document and as a rule it should not contain any classified information. The publicity guarantees objective and equal thesis assessment.
If your thesis includes classified information, it may not be included into the thesis report to be assessed. See separate instructions for this.
As the author you determine the means of thesis publication: electronically either in open Theseus or in restricted Theseus.
Before publishing your thesis, you should check that the title is spelled correctly and in the same way both on the cover page and in the abstract. You need to have your Finnish abstract and the foreign-language abstract checked by a language teacher, as defined in the degree programme. Check also that you have the same title in Wihi’s thesis data as in the final thesis version on Theseus. The title is transferred from Wihi to the transcript of records. Make sure that there are no extra dots, lines or colons in the title on Wihi. If there are two clauses in the title, they are separated by >> without any spaces. (Eg Professionals’ interaction skills>>Qualitative research)
Theseus is a joint open internet-based library for theses made at universities of applied sciences, created to allow easier access to theses. You are responsible for saving your thesis into Theseus. If the thesis has several authors, one saves it on behalf of the others.
You (students) have all copyrights to all parts of the saved thesis.If the thesis includes parts that cannot be saved to Theseus (for example a CD), deliver them to the library. Saving and publishing a thesis in Theseus requires that it has been approved and you allow it to be published. More information on submitting the thesis to the Library can be found in the Library's guide.
If the commissioner doesn't allow your thesis to be public, you can also submit your thesis to the restricted collection of Theseus. Those theses are readable only from certain computers in the library and in the legal deposit libraries which are National Library of Finland, Åbo Akademi Library, Turku University Library, Jyväskylä University Library, Oulu University Library and Library of University of Eastern Finland.
Making paper copies for personal use
You can make hardcover paper copies of your thesis, for example, to the commissioner or yourself. You pay the costs for binding your thesis.
Please, print the thesis one-sided. The covers are hard, dark grey and include the text “Thesis” and Tampere University of Applied Sciences’ logo. You can purchase the covers from the Kuntokatu campus bookshop and when the shop is closed at the CampusRavita café. The machine for binding theses is located in the vicinity of the bookshop. NB: library will not accept printed versions.
Theses are permanently archived documents in accordance with the Archive Department’s decision (16.9.2014). Universities of applied sciences must ensure that theses are retained in accordance with good information management practice and ensure their availability also in the future. Theses are permanently archived in TAMK's document management system (Tweb).
You have to submit your thesis for publication and archiving before you receive your degree certificate.
Archiving of theses takes place when the thesis is published. If the thesis is saved in Theseus, no separate archive copy is needed. Archive copies of bound theses are entered into TAMK’s document management system. When the thesis is received, the library informs the Study Services.
You can find guidelines on submitting the archive copy on the library’s website.
You and the thesis supervisor agree on when the thesis is ready for assessment. The finished thesis is submitted to the supervisor and commissioner to be examined in accordance with the guidelines of the degree programme.
The supervisor gives the written assessment within the period stipulated in the Degree Regulations. It is good to have a second thesis assessor. Approved theses are graded on the scale 1-5 by using TAMK's assessment criteria and assessment form when all thesis performances have been approved.
Emphases on the assessment criteria may vary between degree programmes.
You should become familiar with the assessment criteria in advance in order to take them into account from the very beginning. In order for the thesis to be approved the minimum grade for all assessed sectors must be 1. When two authors are involved, the contribution of each must be clearly discernible if they are to be assessed separately. If the student is dissatisfied with the grade, the student may request an amendment as stipulated in the Degree Regulations. The teacher should store the assessment statement and study performances for a year at the minimum after the results have been published.
You must, in order to graduate, write a maturity test on the field of the thesis. The thesis is to demonstrate your language and text skills needed in expert work and communication.
The maturity test can be taken in English if you have received your school education in some language other than Finnish or Swedish or completed his/her school education abroad. As regards Finns, the language of school education is the language in which the person has completed the comprehensive school or the general upper secondary school, if the person has completed the general upper secondary school. If the person has completed a vocational upper secondary qualification, the language of school education is however determined based on the comprehensive school leaving certificate. (TAMK Degree Regulations) In Double Degree programs, the student writes a maturity test even if the thesis is accepted.
Government Decree on Polytechnics (in Finnish)
In the bachelor’s degree, you write a maturity test most often as a bulletin, but an article draft is also possible. Agree with your instructor beforehand about whether you are writing a bulletin or an article draft. Master's degree students write a maturity test as a draft article, as agreed upon in each degree programme.
The length of the bulletin is between 3,500 and 4,000 characters, including spaces. Write the text in good style with full sentences. Create the text for a wide audience. Avoid special terminology and explain the terms or abbreviations you use. The bulletin does not use pictures, patterns, tables or bullet-point lists. Think about the most important results of your thesis and focus on presenting them. Note that the bulletin is not the same as the summary of the thesis. Think about what readers are interested or touching in your thesis. What's new and up to date? What is impressive? Plan your bulletin so that it presents things in order of priority. The structure and instructions for the bulletin and the article drafting guide are in attachments.
The maturity test is written according to the instructions given in the degree programme. The response time is up to three hours. The supervisor of the thesis will provide more detailed instructions
In Autumn 2022 the maturity test will be taken in TUNI Moodle: KN-2022-2 Kypsyysnäyte / Maturity test (8-12/2022, TAMK), https://moodle.tuni.fi/course/view.php?id=29547. The maturity test is written according to the instructions given in Moodle. The student must discuss with the thesis supervisor before writing the maturity test. No automatic notifications of completed maturity tests are sent from Moodle.
The thesis supervisor and language teacher log into the maturity test course with their own key, which they can get from their school director or the person responsible for maturity tests. The supervisor guide has been sent to TAMK schools and can also be obtained from Education Development Services. The student gets his or her key from the supervisor.
The thesis supervisor assesses the factual content of the maturity test. The language is assessed by the teacher of the language in question. The test is graded either approved or failed.
The grading of the language of the maturity test is based on the following criteria:
- Structuring (including the overall structure of the text, paragraph division, titles)
- Comprehensibility (including text independence, argumentation, arguments and justification, word choice)
- Clarity (including the structure of sentences, use of professional terms, word choices)
- Style (proper style) and language (including proper grammar, spelling, guideline-based layout).
The characteristics of accepted and rejected maturity tests are described in attachment. The supervisor marks the numerical evaluation of the thesis in the study register after the maturity test and other partial studies agreed in the degree programme, including the authenticity of the text, have been approved.
Additional information about research methods: