Practicalities for the USI community

Master Thesis Faculty of Informatics

Faculty of Informatics
Guidelines for Master’s Theses


I. General Principles

1.1 Purpose

The Master's thesis is a formal document whose purpose is to demonstrate the candidate’s ability to make an original contribution to knowledge. To this end, it must show that with some guidance the candidate can identify, analyze and solve a problem, and apply the tools, techniques and concepts learned in the courses.


1.2 Submission

1. A student can only submit his/her thesis after having acquired at least 60 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) points.

2. The Master's thesis should be submitted at least two weeks before the defense.


1.3 Supervision

During the research and writing-up stages, the candidate is guided by a supervisor, usually a tutor of a Master's course. Exceptionally, and with the approval of the Master's director, the internal supervisor may be replaced by an outside expert.


1.4 Defense and evaluation

1. The Master's thesis is examined orally (viva examination) before a panel comprising the supervisor and another Faculty member.

2. After the viva, the panel deliberates and agrees on the grade, which is expressed on a scale of 1 (minimum) to 10 (maximum), half-points included, 6 being the pass mark. The evaluation must follow the ‘Guidelines for Master thesis grading’ (see Appendix).

3. The given grade is added to the calculation of the average final mark of the Master's degree proportionately to the ECTS value recognised to it in the Master's Study Regulations.


II. Form and content of the thesis

2.1 Form

1. The recommended length for a Master's thesis is approximately 80-100 pages, excluding additional material such as program listings and appendices.

2. The title page must contain the following items of information: the title of the thesis; the indication: Master's thesis; the name and surname of the candidate (author); the name and surname of the supervisor; the name and surname of the co-supervisor, if any; and the date (month and year).


2.2 Structure of the thesis

1. The abstract, one- or two-page long, should summarize the contents of the thesis.

2. The table of contents lists the elements that compose the thesis: parts, chapters and sections, numbered consecutively.

3. The preliminaries may also include a dedication, a foreword, a list of abbreviations and acronyms or conventions used in the texts, and acknowledgements.

4. Figures and tables must bear an individual title and must also be numbered consecutively.

5. According to established usage, the Introduction usually consists of the objectives of the thesis, the description of the problem tackled and the methodology used to solve it, and an outline of the thesis with the main points presented in each chapter.

6. The literature reviewed should provide a strong enough theoretical and empirical foundation to support the thesis and to set the tone of the study. The literature review should provide the basis for the gap that you intend to fill with your study.

7. The concluding chapter generally comprises the findings of the research, personal assessment of the methodology applied and the author's suggestions for possible future research lines.


2.3 Style class

In order to ensure uniformity, Master's thesis should be formatted using Latex's style class thesis, available in attachment.


III. Notification and submission deadlines

3.1 Registration form

1. Each student must complete a registration form (see Appendix) as soon as they have been accepted by a supervisor.

2. The candidate must complete the form, and submit it to be dated and signed by the supervisor as soon as the latter has accepted to supervise the candidate's work.

3. The original of this form must be handed in to the Dean’s Office at the latest on the first day of the semester.

4. The title recorded on the registration form is provisional. Subsequently, when the first draft of the thesis is complete, the student should communicate the definitive title to the Dean’s Office, with the approval of the supervisor. This is the title that appears on the title page as well as on the cover or front page of the bound original.

5. A detailed plan (or synopsis) of the thesis must be shown to, and approved by, the supervisor some reasonable time in advance of the expected completion and submission date.


IV. Subsequent stages

4.1 Final reading and revision

The supervisor has two weeks to read the full and final version, correct it, write any comments, and provide suggestions or request amendments or additions


4.2 Defense

1. Master defenses will be scheduled for the oral examination (viva) by the Master’s director during one of the three exam sessions.

2. The Master’s director will assign co-examiners.


4.3 Deposit of copies

1. The candidate is expected to deliver two hard-bound originals and a PDF version. One bound original goes to the supervisor, the second to the Dean’s Office; the PDF version will be deposited by the Dean’s Office to the University Library (if the dissertation has been awarded a mark equal to or higher than 9). It is worth pointing out that binding is the last stage, after the candidate has gone through the defense exam.

2. Students are requested to hand in the two hard-bound originals to the Dean’s Office not later than three weeks after the viva examination, together with the thesis/project deposit form with all the signatures required and the library’s clearance statement (see Appendix).


4.4 Confidential information

In some cases, a Master's thesis may contain or refer to confidential information. If this is the case, the candidate must attach a letter stating that the thesis deposited with the University Library is not for public consultation.


V. Misconduct and disciplinary measures

5.1 Plagiarism

A student who submits a thesis that was not written by himself/herself or who presents as his/her own any research findings (ideas, words, work) of a third party, is guilty of plagiarism. Any text, passage, excerpt, etc. from a source other than one's own must be duly and fully identified and acknowledged. Plagiarism will attract the appropriate penalties as provided in the Faculty's Study Regulations.






Updated on: 18/06/2017