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Msc-Thesis-Protocol 2012 Vs3


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Faculty of Science Master School of Life and Earth Sciences

Master Thesis PROTOCOL

Master Thesis PROJECT The master thesis project is a compulsory part of the MSc in Earth Sciences; the scheduled amount of credits for the Master thesis research project differs per track.
Earth Sciences Geo-ecological Dynamics Environmental Management

42 EC 30 EC code AW4006 code AW4065

2. OBJECTIVES OF THE MSc Thesis PROJECT The objective of the Master thesis project is to learn to carry out earth scientific research including The master thesis project provides students to acquire academic skills in: problem definition, literature research, design of research, approach, data acquisition, validation of results and reporting.

o formulating a clear problem statement and research aim o planning of the research o reading of relevant literature and, in due time, an adequate incorporation thereof in the written report o accumulating sufficient reliable data o processing (statistics etc.) of these data and critically judging the obtained results in relation to the goals and the line of research of which the research is part of o discuss the results of own work in the context of the relevant scientific literature o presentation of findings during informal colloquia and scientific meetings o describing and critically discussing the above activities in a written thesis (in English), in which the methodology is accounted for and the original phrasing is substantiated o an oral presentation and discussion of the results in English




The research is carried out within one of the research groups (Geo-ecological Modeling, Earth Surface Science or Paleo and Landscape Ecology). The Master thesis research should comply with the research themes of the research institution IBED and graduate school. Once a year, a list of available research topics is published from which a master thesis topic can be selected. The list can be obtained from the MSc thesis coordinator and can be downloaded from Blackboard (Master Earth Science / Documents / MSc Research Topics). In case the student proposes a research topic (pre-concerted with the responsible lecturer) not mentioned on the approved list of master thesis topics, this needs approval by the Master track coordinator. A MSc thesis research project usually begins with a study of a topic. Studying the relevant literature is included in the project time. However, practical work such as laboratory experiments, fieldwork or computer simulations, make up the larger part of a MSc thesis research project . The MSc thesis research project should be completed with a written report and oral presentation.

The intensity of supervision can also vary; it therefore is very important that unambiguous agreements are made between student and supervisor prior to the start of the MSc thesis research project by filling in the MSc approval form. This protocol can act as a guideline when making these agreements. 4. SUPERVISION (Principal SUPERVISOR/ EXAMINER, CO-ASSESSOR supervisor)


In the MSc thesis project several people are involved, most notably the supervisor/examiner, the co-assessor, and an external supervisor when the research not is carried out at IBED. The principal supervisor (or examiner) is supervising the research conducted and is always a permanent staff member of IBED. The supervisor will supervise the daily work and assesses and grades the thesis, in which case he is also the examiner. The co-assessor is a permanent staff member of the faculty of Science. The co-assessor also reads, assesses and grades the MSc thesis. The daily supervision can also be carried out by a PhD student or postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty, or by a researcher at an institute or company where the MSc thesis research project is performed. In such a case, the final responsibility for the MSc thesis research is attributed to the principal supervisor, (as defined above) and who will be in close contact with the daily supervisor on the progress and quality of the student’s work. The supervisor supports the student in writing the time plan at the beginning of the project based on the Research Proposal, which is separately graded, and the supervisor and external supervisor (if appropriate) will evaluate the MSc thesis research project halfway with the student, and finally assess the project. A (daily) supervisor is expected to teach students any techniques needed for the research project or provide means to acquire this knowledge. During the MSc thesis project the (daily) supervisor should be available to discuss problems within a reasonable time. Daily (informal) discussion might not be unusual. In case a supervisor is unavailable for a longer period of time, he should ensure that there is somebody else available for urgent questions. The principal supervisor will determine a final grade, and the daily supervisor (if this is someone else then the principal supervisor) only gives advice on the final grade. If the supervisor and co-assessor disagree more than 1 point in grade, a third assessor should evaluate the MSc thesis work to settle the question of the final mark.



5. APPROVAL PROCEDURE All MSc thesis research projects are subject to approval by the MSc thesis coordinator for subjects chosen from the published list. When a subject is studied that is not on the list approval of the Examination board is required. Students should submit their Research Project Approval Form including approval of the track coordinator (this form is be downloaded from prior to the start of the MSc thesis research project to the Examination Board. The student should hand in these forms at the Service desk ESC at least 4 weeks before the planned starting date. After the MSc thesis research project has been approved the student, supervisor, examiner and track coordinator will receive the signed forms.

6. DESCRIPTION AND PLANNING OF THE MSC THESIS The student should hand in the Research Proposal in consultation with the involved supervisor and MSc thesis coordinator. The Research Proposal should be finished, be presented and graded before the MSc thesis research starts. This proposal should at least contain the following items: o Research phrasing (title, hypothesis, (sub)questions); o Methods and materials (specification of the MSc thesis research project , which techniques are used, which new techniques the student will learn); o Initial literature o Planning of the research o If applicable: fieldwork o Cost estimation o Summary

7. PLANNING OF THE MSc Thesis PROJECT After the MSc thesis project has been approved, the student can start with the experimental work. Three weeks before the final date of the project the student has to send a draft version of the report to the examiner. At latest one week before the final date, the student has to provide the final copy of the report to the assessors (supervisor, examiner/co-assessor). This final report has to be uploaded to UvA Dare by the student and Ephorus by the supervisor in order to be checked for plagiarism. The MSc thesis project is concluded with an oral scientific presentation in English. The MSc thesis project has to be presented publically. The supervisor and examiner have to be present. The presentation consists of two parts: presentation and defense/discussion. It is the responsibility of the student to set a time and day for the presentation with the supervisor.
IMPORTANT On the MSc thesis Approval Form the student and supervisor are requested to fill in a time schedule for the MSc thesis research project. In practice, it turns out that most students extend the amount of time for the actual research, and do not leave enough time for their report. Students are advised to plan their MSc thesis research project carefully and to stick to the (initial) time schedule. Students are advised to make a more detailed plan before starting the practical work, and to discuss this with their supervisor. The supervisor has the obligation to make sure that the planned amount of work can be completed by the student within the planned time. If this plan is jeopardized by extra work not included in the plan, the student and supervisor should discuss this and come to an agreement. Planning problems may always be discussed with the track coordinator. If in the course of the project it transpires that extra time is necessary, an application to the Examination Board has to be made. The student and supervisor should explain in a letter why extension of the period is necessary, what activities will take place in the extension of the research period and the number of weeks (EC) requested. When a project exceeds the planned deadline the supervisor may grade the project lower (see grading form).



8. REPORT WRITING The format (scientific journal set up) in which the MSc thesis project is written, depends highly on the project itself. In general, the student can pursue the following guidelines:

o The report should be an account of:

all the researched (sub)questions all used methods and techniques scientific discussion of all discovered results with reference to other published scientific work include a statement on the scientific innovative aspects of the work include a paragraph on the societal relevance of the study.

o Outline of chapter division

Abstract Introduction Materials and Methods Results Discussion Conclusion Reference list

o The Thesis is approximately 10.000 words (30 EC) to 15.000 words (42 EC) (30-45 pages respectively) excluding the literature list. The report is written in English.

o The following information should be stated on the front page of your report:
Title of MSc thesis research project Number of credits Period in which the MSc thesis research project was carried out Student’s name and student’s ID Master programme and track Name of daily supervisor, supervisor and co-supervisor Name of research institute Date

9. ASSESSMENT The research project will be assessed by at least two persons i.e. the supervisor and coassessor. The assessment consists of four components:
1 Research Quality Theoretical knowledge Technical Skills Independence/initiative Original contribution Working attitude Accuracy Cooperation with others Efficiency General efficiency Followed schedule □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ 2 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ 3 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ 4 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ 5 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ MSc thesis Context Structure Methods Data collection Contents Discussion Use of literature Conclusion Lay-out Presentation Contents Media use Discussion 1 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ 2 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ 3 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ 4 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ 5 □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □

The final assessment has to be filled in and signed using the standard form for the final assessment of the MSc thesis report, which has to be handed in at the ESC. 4


Experimental work: This component of the MSc thesis research project should develop and contain a number of skills for the student on which the student will be assessed. MSc thesis: The assessment of the MSc thesis is based on the draft and final version of the report. The thesis will be tested for plagiarism using Ephorus. Contents of the report that are assessed are described in paragraph 8.

Presentation Students have to present their research publically in the Research Workshop. The supervisor and co-supervisor should be present. The presentation consists of two parts: presentation and defense/discussion. The language of the scientific presentation is English. Efficiency The work should be carried out according to the predefined plan as given and agreed upon in the MSc thesis research contract. In that case the category ‘Followed schedule’ in the assessment scheme should be marked with 5. If the time limit agreed upon in the research contract is exceeded then the final grade 8.0 or higher for the MSc thesis CANNOT be obtained. The relative weight of the various parts of the project are stated on the Final Assessment MSc. Research Project form (experimental work 40%, thesis 40%, efficiency, and oral presentation 10%). The final assessment takes place after the report has been submitted and the project has been presented. Experimental work, report and presentation are assessed by the supervisor and co-assessor and interim evaluations are taken into account in the final assessment. The grade should be stated on the Assessment Form (see and should be explained to the student. If the members of the assessment committee cannot come to a uniform/concise grade, all members write their grades on paper after which the Examination Board will set the final grade.

Uploading your approved MSc thesis Before you can actually graduate, your MSc thesis has to be uploaded at the UvA data repository. This has to be the final version that has been approved by the examiners. You have to upload a digital version of your thesis in either pdf or word format or as a zip-file. The upload address is:

It is recommended to do this immediately after your thesis has been graded by your examiners. The supervisor will be approached directly by the repository to accept your thesis as being the final one and will also have the opportunity to indicate whether the whole thesis will be freely accessible or only the abstract. 10. QUESTIONS, REMARKS, PROBLEMS OR INFORMATION Try to solve a complaint or conflict with the person in question, if necessary with the track coordinator or student advisor present as an independent third party. Problems that cannot be solved in this manner may be submitted to the Examination Board.

Halfway the project, the progress of the project will be evaluated (Mid-term evaluation; see;. The student or supervisor may initiate this meeting with the supervisor. The evaluation should help the student improve the quality and progress of the research project. 5


11. INSURANCE POLICY AND REGULATIONS For the regulations with regard to insurance and safety is referred to the blackboard site Verzekering & Veiligheid Veldwerk (Insurance & Fieldwork Safety) pps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_42608_1%26url%3D For questions with regard to these regulations please contact the MSc thesis coordinator (Dr. L.H. Cammeraat) or your examiner, prior to starting your research.


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