Master's Thesis

Step-by-step guide to thesis writing

0. Registration for the Master's thesis

You will be registered for the Master’s thesis automatically on the last semester of your Master's degree programme.

Registration for the Master’s thesis is compulsory and cannot be withdrawn. This applies even if you have not passed all prior elements of your degree programme.  

You will be registered, so that you can complete your degree programme within the stipulated time of study (22 months (+ 6 months for students with an extension)). 

The Master’s thesis must be submitted by the relevant deadline: 

  • 1 June for students enrolled on a two-year Master’s degree programme starting in the summer
  • 2 January for students enrolled on a Master’s degree programme starting in the winter or with an extension

See the other Deadlines in the thesis process here

If you were admitted before 2016

Students who have been admitted before September 2016 will be registered for the Master’s thesis with a deadline for submission six months before their maximum period of studies.

Read more about maximum period of studies

1. Preparing for the thesis process well in advance

During the second semester of your Master’s degree programme, you should start defining the topic you are interested in for your Master’s thesis.

You also need to start thinking about who you would like as your thesis supervisor, as most students at Arts need to apply for a supervisor by the end of the second semester. 

You can find the relevant deadlines for your thesis process here.

It is a good idea to start looking for material already to ensure that you have it when you need it in the thesis process. Help is available for searching for information at the AU libraries and at the State and University Library.

The student guidance and information service also arranges courses and workshops which can help you to plan the process involved in producing your thesis.

2. Applying for a thesis supervisor

The procedure for appointing supervisors varies, depending on which degree programme you are in.

In the overview of deadlines you can see when you (if you have applied on time) can expect an answer to your application for a thesis supervisor.

Please note: Thesis supervisors must be members of department staff (a professor, associate professor or assistant professor).

3. Starting the process of thesis supervision

Once a supervisor has been assigned to you, you can start the supervision process.

It is a good idea to discuss your topic and working title with your thesis supervisor as soon as you have submitted your application for this supervisor.

Your supervisor is a key figure during the production of your thesis because he/she can assess whether your topic has been delimited sufficiently, and whether it can be produced within the timeframe and academic framework stated in the academic regulations.

Balancing your expectations

It is also a good idea to discuss the supervision process and agree how, where and when you will meet and what kind of supervision will be provided.

You and you supervisor should also discuss your expectations and wishes in more general and personal terms. It is important to balance your expectations because the supervision process often varies a great deal.

Remember to use your supervision plan

You and your supervisor need to draw up a supervision plan. This is a general plan for producing your thesis – including the topic area and the plan for the supervision process.

It is a good idea to start with this plan at your first meeting because it can help you to remember the points mentioned above.

The plan does not have to be finalised and submitted until the end of the third semester.

For inspiration on points to discuss, see 'Good advice for the first meeting with supervisor'.

4. Plan for thesis supervision

Fill out the supervision plan in collaboration with your supervisor. Once it has been completed, the supervision plan must be signed by you and your supervisor. 
Form: Plan for thesis supervision

Upload the supervision plan to the masters' thesis administration.
The supervision plan must be uploaded as a pdf file. Other formats, e.g. jpeg or tif, are not accepted.

Writing your thesis in a group

If you write your thesis with one or more other students, you each have to fill out a contract, writing each other’s name(s), student registration number(s), and contact info in the forms.

Please note: Students of anthropology may not write their thesis in a group.

5. The thesis process

During this period you work on your thesis.

You should keep in touch with your supervisor along the way.

See Inspiration for your thesis if you need additional support and supervision during the process.

Specifically for students of Journalism (cand.public.) : If you choose a thesis with a journalistic product (exam form 3), and if you want to produce something that is not a printed article, the design and scope must be discussed with the journalistic co-supervisor and is subject to the final approval of the programme director.

6. Thesis submission statement

For the sake of the planning of the thesis exams, it is important that you submit the form "Thesis submission statement" weeks before you submit your thesis. If you do not submit the form at least 6 weeks before you submit your thesis, we will not have a co-examiner ready to assess your Master's thesis in due time.

  • Submission by the deadline
    If you are planning to submit by the specified deadline, you can find the deadline for submission of the "Thesis submission statement" form here: Deadlines in the thesis process
  • Submission earlier than the deadline
    If you are planning to submit (substantially) earlier than the specified deadline, you must write the planned submission date in the form and submit it 6 weeks before you are planning to submit your thesis.
  • No submission
    If it is clear to you even before the submission deadline for the "Thesis submission statement" form that you will not be able to submit your Master's thesis by the specified deadline, please do not submit any form. Instead, you should follow the guidelines set out in Clause 9.


Form for students at the School of Communication and Culture: Thesis submission statement - CC
Form for students at the School of Culture and Society: Thesis submission statement - CAS
Form for students at the School of Education: Thesis submission statement - School of Education

7. Submitting your thesis

As of January 1 2017 all theses is to be submitted on our digital examination platform.

We recommend that you read the 'Guide to Digital Exam for students', and that you start uploading in good time before the deadline. 

You should also be aware that your submission of your thesis is final. This means that the submitted thesis is locked when you have submitted it an that you cannot edit the thesis after having submitted it. 

Please note that your Master's thesis must be uploaded and submitted by 14.00 at the submission date.

The Master’s thesis must be submitted by the relevant deadline: 

- 1 June for students enrolled on a two-year Master’s degree programme starting in the summer
- 2 January for students enrolled on a Master’s degree programme starting in the winter or with an extension

Publication of your thesis

When you submit your thesis, you will be given the the option to publish an electronic copy of your thesis via AU Library.

Product thesis

If your Master's thesis includes a physical product, which cannot be submitted digitally, the physical product must be submitted to your study centre. All other parts of your thesis must be submitted digitally.

The physical product must be submitted to Study Centre Arts, Tåsingegade 3, building 1442, second floor, during office hours. 

Group thesis

If you have written your Master's thesis as a part of a group, this information is already registered in the Digital Exam system.

Therefore you don't need to indicate that you are part of a group, or 'form' a group in Digital Exam, in connection with or prior to your submission.

Please note: If the submission deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the deadline is automatically extended to the next working day.

8. Assessment of your thesis

The university must announce the assessment no later than four weeks after your thesis has been submitted. If you submit your thesis between 15 June and 15 July, the assessment can take up to six weeks due to the summer holiday.

Preliminary approval

Due to the fact that your master’s thesis will now be assessed within four weeks, the university no longer supports the possibility of applying for a preliminary approval for the unemployment benefit office.


You are entitled to receive feedback on your thesis once it has been assessed. Please arrange when and how to do this with your supervisor. This feedback may be in writing, but it no longer constitutes part of the assessment. You cannot complain about the feedback – only about the mark given.

Thesis with oral defence

The defence takes place within the four week assessment period, which starts on the date where the thesis is submitted.

You will be given your grade after the defence proceedings.

9. If the thesis is not submitted on time or does not pass

If your thesis is not submitted

If you fail to submit your thesis by the prescribed deadline, this will count as one out of three examination attempts. Your second examination attempt starts automatically, giving you three extra months starting from the original submission deadline.

You must submit a new supervision plan no later than 14 days after your original submission deadline. The new thesis statement must fall within the same subject area as the original.

Form: Supervision plan (2nd and 3rd attempt)

When the supervision plan is completed and signed, you must upload the form. (see clause 4 for upload)

No later than 6 weeks before you plan to submit your thesis, you must submit the form "Thesis submission statement". Find more information under clause 6, "Thesis submission statement".

If you fail to submit your thesis by the new deadline, you will have used the second of the three examination attempts. You are entitled to a final examination attempt, in accordance with the rules applying to the second examination attempt. In other words, you are entitled to a total of three examination attempts.

If your thesis does not pass

If your thesis does not pass, this counts as an examination attempt. You will be informed of the fact by your supervisor. Within 14 days of being informed of the assessment, you and your supervisor must sign a supervision plan regarding the submission of your second or third attempt. The three-month period starts on the day you were notified that your thesis did not pass.

Form: Supervision plan (2nd and 3rd attempt)

When the supervision plan is completed and signed, you must upload the form. (see clause 4 for upload)

No later than 6 weeks before you plan to submit your thesis, you must submit the form "Thesis submission statement". Find more information under clause 6, "Thesis submission statement."

Please note that you only have to obtain a signature from your supervisor. The signature from the head of department will be filled in later.

10. Diploma

When you have completed your Masters's degree, you will receive an exam certificate.  If you use e-Boks, your cetificate will be issued to your e-Boks.

The diploma issued to you after finishing your Master’s degree programme is the only origi­nal documentation of your completion of the programme.  

Therefore, it is your responsibility to contact the university immediately if you do not receive your diploma within two months after the announce­ment of the result of your final exam. Likewise, you must contact the university if you suspect any errors in your diploma.

Please note, that the month of July is not included when calculating the two-month deadline.

The university can issue a new diploma provided that you contact the studies administration at your main academic area within three months of the announcement of your final exam result. Again, the month of July is not included when calculating the deadline.

You are welcome to print a transcript of the exam records from (Self-Service) and use it until you receive your certificate. 

Special circumstances

If you wish to submit your thesis before the deadline

If you do not need the full thesis period, you are welcome to submit your thesis earlier. You must still submit the form "Acknowledgement of submission of the thesis" at least six weeks before you wish to submit your thesis.

Exemption from the submission deadline rule

If exceptional circumstances prevent you from working on your thesis (illness or maternity/paternity leave, for instance), the board of studies may grant you exemption from the submission deadline rule.

It is important that you apply for exemption at the time an exceptional circumstances arise and before the deadline for the examination attempt, you are working on. The Board of Studies see each of the three exam attempts isolated, and can therefore only grant an exemption from the deadline for submission if exceptional circumstances have affected the specific examination attempt, you are working on.

Exceptional circumstances must always be documented. Read more about applying for exemption.  

Changing supervisor

You can only change your supervisor in exceptional circumstances, and you must submit an application to do this.

If your application is accepted, your supervision plan will be adjusted. However, the original deadline for submission will remain unchanged.

You must apply by sending an email to the head of department with as cc.

Leave of absence during the thesis period

The general  leave of absence rules apply during the thesis period, which means that students may apply for leave of absence with the result that the submission date is postponed by a period equivalent to the duration of the leave. During periods of leave, students cannot receive supervision or the government student grant.
Please note: You may not submit your thesis in the semester in which you have been on leave. If you want to take leave of absence, you should do so in the semester prior to submission.

Maternity/paternity leave and pregnancy

If you become a parent during your Master's thesis process, you have the opportunity to keep parental leave from your studies. You can read more about your options on the page on exemption and parental leave.

General rules on pregnancy

It is important to distinguish between maternity/paternity leave and pregnancy. Pregnancy does not qualify as exceptional circumstances and therefore cannot be used to justify the postponement of the thesis submission deadline. As a general rule, postponement of the thesis submission due to maternity/paternity leave or pregnancy is granted from the day of birth of the child (must be documented by a maternity record, birth certificate or the like). 

If you experience discomfort/illness related to your pregnancy and it affects your thesis work, you can apply for dispensation specifically for such circumstances in relation to the submission date. However, this requires documentation of exceptional circumstances (read more about the definition of 'exceptional circumstances' on the exemptions page).

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