Master's project at Geoscience

Choosing subject for Master's thesis

To get some inspiration for your thesis project you can use the project catalogue, that is updated once a year in September. This will give you a good overview of the research that is going on in the Department. Following get in contact with the individual researchers to talk more about possible projects. If you have your own idea about a project talk to a researcher who works in that research field.

Main supervisor - must be from Department of Geoscience

If you want to work with a supervisor from another department at NAT or TECH, you can do so, but your main supervisor must be from Department of Geoscience. If you do not know who could be your main supervisor get in contact with Thomas Ulrich.

Be aware of that there are some additional steps in the contract generator if your project is in collaboration with industry.

Here you find a short manual on how to register a project that is in collaboration with industry.

Inspiration for a Time Table to a Master's project

Before starting the thesis

1-2 months before (May-June if 60 ECTS):
- Make all necessary agreements
- Make a time table for possible field word/data acquisition – including a plan B in case something fails.
- Start writing the master thesis contract.
- Find some relevant overview papers.
- Brush-up your knowledge of literature search/research databases.
- Match your expectations with supervisor.
- Brush up Rules of plagiarism.

1 month before (end July if project starts 1 September)
- Complete the contract and send it to ST study administration.
- Your supervisor looks for an external examiner and makes arrangements for WISEflow submission through the study administration.  

Working on the thesis document

First two weeks (1 – 15 September if 60 ECTS):
Planning thesis structure and text:
- Make a draft structure (Introduction/Background/Hypothesis/Data Basis, Methos, Results, Discussion, Conclusion and Perspectives, and have your supervisor adjust it to comply with professional custom and the character of the project.
- Make first draft of the thesis as bullet points of paragraphs/sections of the first few chapters.
- Define estimated number of pages and figures. Recommended: 80 standard pages (2400 characters including spaces) including Summary, Contents and Bibliography.
- Get feedback from supervisor. 
From Data Acquisition to results and design of figures.
- Keep dairy/protocol of field and lab. work, numerical computing and literature.
- Read relevant literature as agreed with supervisor.
- Make careful backup of everything! 
- Prepare questions for meetings with supervisor.
- Start writing first parts of the text. 
- Get feedback from supervisor.

1 April if 60 ECTS (8 weeks before submission):
Status before writing:
- Draft for all central figures/figure texts?
- Main paragraphs, extent of all paragraphs, and most subsections?
- Draft (perhaps still inadequate) for Discussion and Conclusion, maybe as bullet points?
- Information on required line spacing and margins?
- Supervisor makes agreement with external examiner.

Final stage

2 April – 15 May:
- Essential parts of the report should be well advanced.
- Full attention on the rhetorical/linguistic and graphical presentation of the project, including spelling, punctuation and grammar.

16 May (21 May if 30 ECTS):
- Third part (fellow student?) might check readability of your almost finished report.

16– 28 May:
- Discussion and Conclusion to be completed. Final adjustment of entire text, figures and final layout.
- Check out practical matters, e.g., rules for submission, printing possibilities.

5. June:
- Deadline for submission – 10. June – is near.  
- Submission rather two days before deadline than one day late!
- Be aware that late submission means a not-passed exam attempt.

11. June – 30. June:
- Prepare the defense/final examination while the report is evaluated.

Workplan: requirements and suggestions

Here you can download a word template for the workplan to be included in your online thesis contract. The template includes information about content requirements and suggestions: Workplan Template

The workplan is part of the Master's thesis contract and must be uploaded in the contract generator. Read more about the master's thesis contract under Master's Thesis at the Study Portal

Practical information for master thesis students

Office space, computer etc.

When you initiate your project work you will be offered an office space at the Master students’ room. You can get a key for the office at the secretariat. If you do not already have a key card with access to the building, please contact the secretariat.

During the project period you must use your own computer unless you have made a special agreement with your supervisor. If you need specific software programmes, please talk to your supervisor.

Laboratory work

If you are going to work in the Geoscience laboratories for your project, it is mandatory to pass an online safety course.

Get in contact with the laboratory leader Charlotte Rasmussen.

In addition, you are expected to keep informed about and adhere to all safety rules for laboratory work, incl. clothing and rules regarding food and beverages in the laboratories where you work and is located.

Driving in departmental cars

If you need to drive in a departmental car with relation to your Master’s thesis, you need to contact the secretariat where you get assisted in obtaining a written authorization. It will take a few days, so please get in contact in advance of your planned trip. The use of departmental cars has to be approved by your supervisor.


It is highly recommended that all Master’s students, take out an accident insurance on which they state that they are students, since Master’s student are not included in the university’s injury insurance. Please be aware of the fact that some insurance companies make certain reservations when covering for accidents which can occur in a laboratory.

Formal requirements regarding the thesis

Academic regulations

The academic regulations regarding a Master’s thesis in geology or geophysics can be found under “Thesis – Geology or Geophysics” in the AU course catalogue and in the Master’s Degree Programme in Geology or Gephysics

Length of the thesis

The length of the thesis must be discussed with your supervisor. There are no official rules regarding the length, but the length should be appropriate. A 60 ECTS master’s thesis will typically be approximately 40-60 pages.

Avoid plagiarism

Read advice on how to avoid plagiarism in the webpage Avoid plagiarism – for students

Submission of thesis

Submission deadline in WISEflow

Regarding 60 ECTS Master thesis projects: You must hand-in your thesis via WISEflow before

  • 10th of June, 12:00, if the project is initiated the 1st of September
  • 10th of November, 12:00, if project is initiated the 1st of February.

Regarding 30 and 45 ECTS Master thesis projects: You must hand-in your thesis via WISEflow before 12:00 on the submission date written in the online thesis contract.

Be aware, that you as a student is solely responsible for a timely submission of your thesis. We recommend that you upload and submit your thesis well in advance. A thesis handed-in after deadline will not be evaluated and will cost you an exam attempt. The submission link will be available in WISEflow at least one week prior to your submission date.

File format

As a main rule, the master’s thesis report should be submitted as one single pdf-file. However, it is possible to submit attachments as other file types if necessary.

WISEflow support

Find answers to frequently asked questions regarding WISEflow here: WISEflow.

Oral examination and evaluation

The master’s thesis is concluded with an oral examination after submission of the thesis report. The oral examination consists of a lecture within a selected topic associated with the subject area of the thesis, followed by an oral examination within the topic area of the thesis. The main supervisor and the project supervisor, if applicable, agree on the subject of the lecture and this is submitted to the student seven days prior to the examination. The topic area of the thesis is restricted to the literature used, as stated in the reference list for the thesis report or the answer to the thesis assignment.

The thesis examination is divided into 30 minutes for the lecture excl. questions and 45 min for an oral examination of the thesis report and the topic area of the thesis.

One single combined mark is awarded in accordance with the Danish 7-point grading scale for the thesis report, lecture and subsequent oral examination. The student’s written expression skills must be included in the assessment.

Supervisor(s) and an external censor participates in the examination.

You can find advice on oral examinations at AU Studypedia – Exams

Some good advice

During the month of June, your report is assessed. The final examination takes place at the end of the month.

Preparations for exam:
- Skim your literature once again
- Prepare your lecture (30. min presentation)
- Practicalities: Check if projector and PC work.

On the day of exam:
- Be well rested.
- Be sure to have a backup of your presentation on a USB plug.

Information to main supervisor

Be aware that you as main supervisor is responsible for the following:

  • Finding a suitable external examiners
    • Possible external examiners in Geology/Geophysics can be found here
    • You can find information about use of external examiners in the External Examiner Portal ST (payment, standards, limits on number of hours, hotel accommodation etc.)
  • To agree on a date for the oral examination with the external examiner and student
    • As a main rule, the evaluation deadline is June 30 or January 31 depending on the start date and duration (ECTS extent). The evaluation deadline is the latest possible date for the oral examination (including online evaluation in WISEflow)
  • Booking a room/location for the oral examination
    • The oral examination must be held at Aarhus University
  • Sending the following information about the oral examination to the secretary well in advance:
    • Thesis title and title of exam presentation
    • Names on master’s student, supervisor(s) and external censor
    • Date, time and location for the oral exam
  • Sending lecture title to the student 7 days prior to the oral examination, e.g., by mail.

Supervisor(s) and external censor must evaluate the master’s thesis, incl. oral examination (one single mark) in WISEflow:

  • All examiners, including external examiner automatically receives an e-mail with a link to WISEflow when the students have handed-in their thesis reports.
    • If one or more examiners did not receive this e-mail, it is always possible to login via the webpage: Click ”Login as assessor” and choose either examiner or co-examiner and whether you would like to log-in using WAYF or Nem ID

Supervision: tools and activities

In AU Educate you can find advice and practical examples on how to supervise students