Thesis Collaboration

PRIVATE COMPANIES // PUBLIC ORGANISATIONS // CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS // NGO

DOING YOUR MASTER’S THESIS IN COLLABORATION WITH A COMPANY OR ORGANISATION

Students wishing to do their Master’s thesis in collaboration with a company or organisation must contact the partner of their choice and present or arrange the issue they want to address. The aim is to reach a collaboration agreement* covering the process involved.

*The university does not require this agreement to be in writing, although it may still be a good idea for you to get it in writing. Aarhus University does not need to approve the agreement.

Who can you collaborate with?

You can write your Master’s thesis in collaboration with private companies, public-sector organisations or NGOs, and the thesis can relate to any type of profession.

An academic Master’s thesis

A Master’s thesis written in collaboration with a company or organisation is subject to the same conditions as any other Master’s thesis at the Faculty of Arts, and will be assessed according to the academic objectives in your academic regulations.* This means that you must comply with your academic regulations and the rules which apply to Master’s theses at the school at which you are enrolled. This kind of thesis is no different from any other type of thesis – it must conform to one of the thesis types described in the academic regulations. For instance, it can be produced in the form of a monograph or a product.

Students are responsible for confirming that their thesis has been produced in collaboration with a company or organisation.

* More information about thesis rules, choice of supervisor, deadlines, etc.

GETTING STARTED...

Consider whether you could be interested in a Master’s thesis collaboration.

  • What is your motivation for writing your Master’s thesis in collaboration with a company or an organisation?
  • What would you like to achieve from a Master’s thesis collaboration?
  • Discuss your considerations with your fellow students and others in your network.

Explore your options

  • Consider what you would like to work with in a company or an organisation.
  • Which companies or organisations work in the field in which you want to write your Master’s thesis? Make a list of possible companies and organisations. Use, for example, LinkedIn, ORBIS, specialised magazines and your own network to find potential partners.
  • Think about what you can offer the company or organisation.

Talk to your supervisor

  • Discuss the topic and the framework for your Master’s thesis with your supervisor.
  • Discuss your expectations with your supervisor.
  • Talk to your supervisor about how to get in contact with the company or organisation. 

Contact

Contact the company or organisation well in advance of the Master’s thesis period.

When you contact a company to propose a collaboration, you should sell the idea almost as if you were applying for a job or an internship. So be specific and focus on how the company will benefit from the collaboration. But also remember that the Master’s thesis must create value for both you and the company.

You can start with the following questions:

  • Which subject area do you find interesting in the company?
  • Why is this particular subject relevant for the company?
  • Why should the company collaborate with you? What are your three main arguments?
  • Why and how can the collaboration benefit the company, and which formal requirements are they subject to?

DURING THE PROCESS

Collaboration

When you have established contact with an interested company or organisation, arrange a meeting where you can discuss the framework for your collaboration. Make sure to discuss your expectations. It might be a good idea to prepare a collaboration agreement in writing, defining:

  • What you will provide them with.
  • What they need to provide you with, for example time to conduct qualitative interviews, access to internal documents, office facilities or a workstation, specification of the duration of the collaboration and feedback on the completed Master’s thesis.
  • Confidentiality and anonymisation of data, if relevant.
  • Your contact person in the company and meeting activity.
  • How you want to present your results and proposals for action to the company or organisation.

Potential challenges?

Sometimes unexpected challenges may arise, including:

  • Changes in the company’s tasks or employments, making it difficult to continue the collaboration.
  • Unforeseen events in your life or your contact’s life, making it difficult to continue the collaboration.
  • Disputes between you and the collaborative partner.
  • The contact person does not show up for agreements or respond to your emails or calls.

In such situations, or in similar situations, it is important that you contact your collaborative partner and/or your supervisor, so that you can discuss an alternative solution that allows you to complete your Master’s thesis on time.

Remember that in such cases, you can complete your Master’s thesis, as there is no requirement that the collaborative partner must be involved in the entire process. And it is an academic Master’s thesis which is subject to the same formal requirements as any other Master’s thesis, so it can be completed based on the work that you have done. But make sure to contact your supervisor to discuss how to best achieve your objectives.

SUBMITTING YOUR THESIS

When submitting a Master’s thesis that you have written in collaboration with a company or organisation, you need to comply with certain requirements from two different sources: your degree programme expects a thesis containing academic issues and reflections, while the company or organisation may expect a product offering specific solutions.

So it is very important that everyone knows what to expect right from the outset – this includes you, your supervisor and the company or organisation involved. Make good use of your supervisor to discuss your ideas.

Submitting your Master’s thesis to the university

There is no difference between submitting a standard Master’s thesis and submitting a thesis written in collaboration with a company or organisation.

More information.

Submitting your thesis to the company

You can submit your final product to the company in various ways:

  • By presenting your results
  • By submitting proposals for specific solutions
  • By submitting a report or a summary of the conclusion
  • By organising a workshop for staff or management

Remember that you must help to define what you can do for them. You don’t necessarily have to provide your company with a product, but most companies will expect something in return for the time and energy they have invested in you.

 

THE BENEFITS OF A MASTER’S THESIS COLLABORATION

There are many advantages of writing your Master’s thesis in collaboration with a company or an organisation.

Insight

Writing your Master’s thesis in collaboration with a company or an organisation will give you insight into the company as well as the industry which it represents. You can gain direct insight into the company’s or the organisation’s own data and experience, and possibly get good access to other sources.

You will also gain insight into what it means to be part of a company. This will give you personal experience which you can benefit greatly from when entering the labour market later on.

Project management

You will learn to manage your own project as well as managing various interests in relation to the aim of the project.

Writing a Master’s thesis in collaboration with a company or an organisation requires that you take control of the process. You are responsible for preparing and following a schedule, designing the process, following up on agreements and clarifying any formal requirements and wishes in relation to the scope of the collaboration.

Networks

Furthermore, you will strengthen your network in the labour market – not only in the company you have joined, but possibly also in some of the companies with which your company is working or doing business.

Academic competences in practice

You can also benefit from addressing a specific issue in a company which will actually make use of your results afterwards. It is a major responsibility, but also very rewarding and educational and a motivating factor for doing the job well.