Master's thesis at the Faculty of Arts

Step-by-step guide to thesis writing

0. Registering for the Master's thesis

How and when should I register 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Registration for the Master’s thesis is compulsory and cannot be withdrawn.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)). 

Deadlines for submitting the Master’s thesis 

  • 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

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 writing about in 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 well in advance to ensure that you have it when you need it in the thesis process. At the AU libraries and the Royal Danish Library, you can get help when searching for information.

The Student Guidance and Information service also arranges courses and workshops which can help you to plan your thesis process.

2. Applying for a thesis supervisor

How do I find a supervisor?

The procedure for appointing supervisors varies from degree programme to degree programme.
Read more about the degree programme-specific procedures for applying for thesis supervisors

When should I submit my application - and when will I receive an answer?

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).

Special information for group theses

If you write Master's thesis together with one or more other students, you must complete the application for a supervisor together. Please note that you can only write together if you have the same submission deadline.

Application forms

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 on how, where and when you will meet and the kind of supervision that 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 your supervisor'.

4. Making the supervision plan

  1. Arrange a meeting with your supervisor 
    Fill out the supervision plan form in collaboration with your supervisor. Discuss your thesis statement and prepare a supervision plan, which must be included in the form.
    Please note that your problem statement is preliminary. 
  2. You and your supervisor complete and sign the supervision plan
    When the form has been uploaded, it is signed by the head of department/Master’s thesis coordinator
    Form for the first exam attempt: Thesis supervision plan Form for additional exam attempts: see section 9
  3. Upload the supervision plan to the Masters' thesis administration
    The supervision plan must be uploaded as a PDF file. Other formats such as JPEG or TIF are not accepted.
    - For students at the School of Communication and Culture: Upload of supervision plan - CC
    - For students at the School of Culture and Society: Upload of supervision plan - CAS
    - For students at the Danish School of Education: Upload of supervision plan - EDU
  4. Please note that you should receive an email receipt

Writing your thesis in a group
If you are a group writing Master's thesis together, one of you must fill out a joint contract  and write the AU-e-mail adresses of the remaining members in the form. Only the one, that fills out the form will recieve a receipt. Please note that you can only write together if you have the same submission deadline.

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 academic supervisor.

6. Form for appointing an external co-examiner

For the sake of the planning of the thesis exams, it is important that you submit the form for appointing an external co-examiner at least 6 weeks before you submit your thesis. If not, we will not be able to 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 filling in the form for appointing an external co-examiner 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 at least 6 weeks before you are planning to submit your thesis.
  • No submission
    If it is clear to you even before submitting the form for appointing an external co-examiner 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 below in Clause 9.

Forms

Receipt
If you have not written your AU email (correct) on the form, you will not receive a receipt. If you have written your AU email and still do not receive a receipt, please contact the Study Centre Arts.

Special information for group theses
If you are a group writing Master's thesis together, one of you must fill out a joint form and write the names, student numbers and AU e-mail adresses of the remaining members in the form. Mark on top that it is a group Master's thesis. Only the one who sends the form will receive a receipt. Please note that you can only write as a group if you have the same submission deadline.

7. Submitting your thesis

Your thesis is to be submitted in our digital examination system.
We recommend that you read the 'Guide to Digital Exams for students', and that you start uploading your thesis well before the deadline.
Digital Exam: Submission procedure, guidelines and login

The Master’s thesis must be submitted by the relevant deadline
Please note that your Master's thesis must be uploaded and submitted by 14.00 on the submission date.  

  • 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 also: Information about deadlines in connection with the thesis

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

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

Publication of your thesis

If you want your thesis to be published in teh AU Project Library, you must state this in the digital exams system in connection with the submission of your thesis.

Once you have completed the form, the thesis will be published when it has been assessed with a pass grade.

Submitting a product thesis

If your Master's thesis includes a physical product which cannot be submitted digitally, the physical product must be submitted to Study Centre Arts during opening hours. If you wish to submit outside opening hours, you must contact study Centre Arts, so that you can instead submit the physical product in the Arts Studies administration (Tåsingegade 3, building 1442). All other parts of your thesis must be submitted via Digital exam.

Submitting a group thesis

Information about that you are writing a group Master's thesis is already registered in the Digital Exams system.

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

8. Assessment of your thesis

The university must announce the assessment no later than four weeks after your thesis has been submitted.
Please note: in the time period 15 June to 15 July the deadline for the assessment is extended to six weeks.

Advance approval
The university does not support the possibility of applying for advance approval for unemployment insurance.

Feedback
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 grade 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 oral defence.

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

If you fail to submit your Master’s thesis by the agreed deadline

  • If you fail to submit your Master’s thesis by the specified deadline, you will be given the grade “F” (submitted too late). You will then have used the first of your three attempts to pass the exam.
  • You will be registered automatically for your second attempt to pass the exam, which starts 14 days after your original submission deadline.
  • During this 14-day period, you need to meet your supervisor to draw up a revised thesis statement and a new supervision plan. Your supervisor will help you to ensure that your thesis statement is revised sufficiently.
  • You must submit the new supervision plan no later than 14 days after the original submission deadline, as well as including both your original and your revised thesis statement. Please note that you only need to obtain the signature of your supervisor. We will obtain the signature of the head of department.
  • You must submit the form used to appoint an external co-examiner no later than six weeks before you plan to submit your thesis. So you are allowed to submit your Master’s thesis before the specified submission deadline.
  • You must attach your supervision plan as an appendix when you submit your thesis. If you fail to submit your supervision plan before you submit your thesis, and if you also fail to attach your supervision plan as an appendix when you submit your thesis, your thesis will be rejected. This will count as a failed attempt to pass the exam.

If you fail to submit your thesis at the second attempt

If you fail to submit your Master’s thesis by the new deadline, you will be given the grade “F” again. This will count as another failed attempt to pass the exam. Your third and final attempt to pass the exam will start automatically according to the same rules that apply to your second attempt to pass the exam.

If your thesis does not pass

  • If you submit a Master’s thesis that does not pass, you will be informed of this fact by your supervisor.
  • Your second attempt to pass starts on the day on which you are notified that your thesis has not passed. Your new submission deadline will be 14 days + three months later.
  • Within 14 days of being informed of the assessment, you and your supervisor must complete a new supervision plan for your second (or third) attempt to pass the exam. This must contain a revised thesis statement, which must be within the same subject area as the original thesis statement. Please note that you only need to obtain the signature of your supervisor. We will obtain the signature of the head of department.
  • No later than six weeks before you plan to submit your Master’s thesis, you must submit the “Form for appointing an external co-examiner”. So you are allowed to submit your Master’s thesis before the specified submission deadline if you also submit this form at an earlier date.
  • You must attach your supervision plan as an appendix when you submit your thesis. If you fail to submit your supervision plan before you submit your thesis, and if you also fail to attach your supervision plan as an appendix when you submit your thesis, your thesis will be rejected. This will count as a failed attempt to pass the exam.

- 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.

Consequently, in order to assess whether the exceptional circumstances have affected your attempt to pass the exam, it is important that your doctor’s certificate provides documentary evidence of:

  • how long the exceptional circumstances have already affected you
  • how long they are expected to affect you (a provisional prognosis, for instance), and
  • how (and how much) they have affected you (specific symptoms and an assessment of your working capacity)

Your doctor must only assess how (and how much) your ability to study has been affected by the exceptional circumstances in question. So your doctor’s certificate must not contain an assessment of how long your submission deadline should be postponed.

Read more about applying for exemption.  

If you want to dissolve a Master's thesis group

If exceptional circumstances cause that you will not continue in your Master's thesis group, you must contact your supervisor and get a confirmation (by email) that you are breaking the group up.

You must also notify administrative officer/Master's thesis Coordinator:

  • Students at the School of Communication and Culture and the School of Culture and Society, please contact the Head of Department
  • Students at the Danish School of Education, please contact the Master's thesis Coordinator

And you must send an email to the Study centre Arts, where you attach the confirmation email from your supervisor.

Changing supervisor

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

  • Students at the School of Communication and Culture and the School of Culture and Society, please contact the Head of Department
  • Students at the Danish School of Education, please contact the Master's thesis Coordinator

If your application is approved, you must send an email to Study Center Arts - with an approval email from the Head of Appartment/Master's thesis Coordinator attached - to Study Centre Arts

Your supervision plan will be adjusted. However, the original deadline for submission will remain unchanged.

If your supervisor becomes ill

If your supervisor becomes absent due to illness for a longer period of time, you have the opportunity to be assigned another supervisor.

  • If you are a student at the School of Communication and Culture or the School of Culture and Society please contact the head of department: Find your head of department
  • If you are a student at DPU, please contact the Master's thesis Coordinator (or your head of department)

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.

Maternity/paternity leave and pregnancy

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

You cannot be in a Master's thesis group if you go on parental leave from your studies in the Master's thesis semester, because you will not have the same submission deadline as the other members of the Master's thesis group.