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Thesis at TAMK (student's guide)

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1 Introduction

1.1 Thesis

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.

1.2 Degree objectives

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.

2 Thesis topic, objective and purpose

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.

3 Thesis process

3.1 Steps in thesis process

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.

Gate model for the thesis

FIGURE 1. Gate model for the thesis

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.

3.2 Thesis types

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.

3.3 Topic approval, supervision and thesis plan

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.

A thesis plan is drawn up for every thesis. The thesis plan includes the topic, literary background, objective and purpose of the thesis. It also includes the thesis implementation plan and schedule. The detailed thesis plan will be discussed as agreed on in the degree programme. 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 also always enclosed to the thesis contract or permit form (see the thesis contract section 5.2).

3.4 Method studies and thesis seminars

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.

3.5 Peer review

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.


4 Theses in double degrees

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.

5 Working life cooperation

5.1 Project-related theses

It is possible for you to make the thesis as a part of a development project for a region, field of study or TAMK. The same development project may offer thesis topics for several students with different points of view. A project-related thesis allows you to plan and implement the work together with working-life representatives as well as a supervisor from TAMK. The project-related thesis thus means a thesis commissioned by a third party or TAMK.

Working-life representatives commit themselves to furnish you with information necessary for the successful completion of the thesis as well as give feedback on the thesis and its usability to their operational activities as stated in the thesis permission or contract. You report to the working-life representative on the thesis results in a manner to be agreed on separately.

5.2 Thesis contract

The project-related thesis always involves a thesis contract (see system instructions and contract terms) or permission. The thesis contract is concluded between the working life party, university of applied sciences and you regarding for example a joint project or product manufacture. Some cooperation partners require a thesis permission. The degree programmes provide more detailed guidelines on this.

It is essential to agree in writing on matters pertaining to cooperation, including publicity and confidentiality, prior to commencing cooperation (See instructions for thesis publicity in section 6.3.). The contract or permission stipulates the thesis objectives, research, development and innovation objectives and the timetable. It determines how the working-life representative participates in thesis supervision and potential expenses (eg travel, tool and poster expenses). All parties' contact information is included in the form, which is then signed. You have to deliver the signed thesis contract or permission form for filing as agreed on in the degree programme.

Further information on thesis-related insurance matters can be found in the Study Guide.

5.3 Working-life representative’s role in thesis process

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.

5.4 Research ethics guidelines

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 Urkund) 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 published ethical recommendations for theses at universities of applied sciences on 21 January 2018. They can be found through the links below:
Ethical Recommendations for Theses in Universities of Applied Sciences 2018 (in Finnish)
Ethical Recommendations for Thesis Process Memorandum Lists for Students and Supervisors 2018 (in Finnish)

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.

5.5 Thesis and copyrights

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

6 Thesis reporting

6.1 Written thesis report

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 separate document called 

The cover page of the thesis must also have specific settings. You can use TAMK's thesis template as the basis.

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.

6.2 Oral thesis presentation

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.

6.3 Thesis publicity

A thesis report is a public document and as a rule it should not contain any classified information. At Tampere University of Applied Sciences thesis reports are in general fully public. It has to be possible to assess theses openly. The publicity guarantees objective and equal thesis assessment.

At Tampere University of Applied Sciences, students are not allowed to write entirely classified theses. In case there is a need to include classified information in the thesis, it must be carefully considered. The classified information may not be included into the thesis report to be assessed (see thesis writing options). If your thesis includes classified information, it must be stated in the thesis abstract. 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.

6.4 Thesis publication

As the author you determine the means of thesis publication: electronically in Theseus or as a printed version in the library. The detailed publication guidelines can be found at Thesis Publication and Archiving.

7 Thesis assessment

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 criteria and study performances for a year at the minimum after the results have been published.


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