Master - Academic paper - before starting

General rules and procedure

The Master's thesis serves as proof of the student’s ability to work on scientific topics independently and in a way that is acceptable in terms of content and methodology. Students have the right to subject-specific supervision of the Master's or Magister thesis, but no right to a specific person or to a specific topic. There are no formal regulations on how long students may take for their thesis, but the chosen topic should allow for submission of the completed thesis after no more than 6 months. The topic of the thesis must correspond to the respective specifications of the curriculum and be dealt with using methods that have been acquired during the course of studies.

According to the statutes of the University of Vienna, students are entitled to request a university instructor to supervise their thesis. There is NO legal entitlement to supervision by a person WITHOUT teaching authorization or competence on a specific topic (please see the website of the officer responsible for the implementation of the study law “Studienpräses”). If a student cannot find a supervisor, the Studienpräses will assign a supervisor to the student. In this case, please contact the Director of Studies.

The correct procedure for writing Master's/Master's theses involves the following steps:

  • Researching a topic
  • Outlining preliminary ideas (exposé)
  • Contacting a suitable supervisor
  • Registration of the topic/supervision
  • Attendance of the Master conservatory (can also be done while or after writing the thesis)
  • Writing the thesis
  • Uploading the thesis for plagiarism check
  • Submission of the printed and bound version after the successful plagiarism check
  • Assessment of the thesis
  • Application for the defense and exam

What is the difference between a Master’s thesis and a seminar paper?

In contrast to a seminar paper, a Master’s thesis should include new well-defined elements, results or insights which do not yet exist in scientific literature. An innovation is established when it reflects this definition. The magnitude or importance of the innovation does not matter as long as the “added value” is not negligible. What this innovation entails and to what extent it can be described as such should clearly be outlined in the exposé. A (qualitative or quantitative) summary of literature is not sufficient for the work to be classified as innovative (except for theses on legal topics).

Examples for approaches that reach a satisfactory level of innovation are listed below:

  • Development of strategies in specific business or economic practices
  • Adaptation of existing approaches to new situations or circumstances
  • Unification of existing models or approaches
  • Comparative analysis of methods or approaches
  • Collection and statistical evaluation of data
  • Statistical evaluation and interpretation of data
  • Simulation for the development of new insights
  • Programming and implementation of new algorithms
  • Simple mathematical modelling and description of theoretical approaches
  • Application and interpretation of law to new situations and circumstances

No innovation is given if, for example, material from different sources is merely collected or if data is simply procured and described. The methodological structure of the thesis should be defined in consultation with the supervisor.

Finding a topic and a supervisor

In principle, all habilitated professors may supervise Master's theses within the scope of their teaching capacity. In addition, associated professors (= tenure track with fulfilled qualification agreement) may also supervise Master's theses independently. At our faculty, requests should first be made to habilitated colleagues in the respective department. It is also possible for non-habilitated persons to be co-supervisor, but they must at least have completed a doctorate and be employed by the faculty. The application for co-supervision must be made by the supervisor.

Students are responsible for finding a supervisor. Ideally, the student should propose and briefly explain the topic of thesis in a short exposé. This outline should be 2 to 5 pages and must cover the topic as well as the methodology of the intended thesis. It should also include an introductory literature review. Moreover, it should clearly demonstrate that the student has the necessary competences to work on the chosen topic.

During the semester, the student can expect to receive a response regarding supervisory commitment, refusal or deferral within 2 weeks. A deferral may mean that the exposé needs to be adjusted or that the desired supervisor wishes that other potential supervisors be contacted first (due to, for example, a more suitable area of expertise or current workload). Supervision must not be made dependent on whether certain courses were attended, or certain grades were achieved.

A potential supervisor may refuse an application if a student has insufficient knowledge to work on the proposed topic, if there are severe deficiencies in the exposé, or if they are already actively supervising more than 10 Master’s theses per year (provided there are other supervisors with the capacity and expertise for this or related topics). The SPL manages the statistics on which supervisors do not have the capacity to supervise more theses. If a supervisor is supervising fewer than 10 theses, the faculty assumes that this supervisor is available.

If a student receives rejections from all professors who could supervise their suggested topic, the student should firstly try to change the topic or focus. If, after adapting the topic, the student remains unsuccessful, the Director of Studies is required to assist the student with finding a suitable supervisor. This search is based upon the topic matrix, the main fields of the study, and the availability of possible supervisors.

Possible topics and supervisors

On the faculty website you’ll find a list of all possible topics and supervisors (hereafter topic matrix) at the faculty. This list has been created in coordination with all habilitated faculty members and provides an overview of supervisors and the topics they cover. Please note that students are not entitled to supervision from a specific person!

Thesis Master International Business Adminstration: Chose a specialization in Business (B) with a focus on the "Kulturwissenschafltichen Raum".

Possible supervisor

  • habilitated person of the "Kulturwissenschaftlicher Raum"

    if there is no habilitated person

  • (requested) supervisor = habilitated person at the Faculty of Business, Economics and Statistics (Professor*in!)
  • (requested) co-supervisor = person with doctorate from "Kulturwissenschaften" (Doktor*in)

the co-supervisor supervises the writing of the Master's thesis and proposes the grade as well as central aspects for the review; the grade & review are assigned/written & signed by the habilitated supervisor.

Rules for good academic practices at the University of Vienna

All researchers, lecturers and students of the University of Vienna are committed to scientifically correct behavior. This refers to the independent writing of papers, the correct handling of sources and the correct performance of analyses.

When registering their Master's or Magister thesis, students must confirm that they comply with the rules of good academic practice by completing and signing the corresponding form and submitting it with the registration of the thesis.



Basic rules for good scientific practices

Registering the Master's thesis

As soon as you have confirmation of supervision, the subject and supervisor must be registered at the SSC using the appropriate form. If you change the subject (e.g. language or specialisation) and/or supervisor, you must submit a change request. A signed copy of the rules of good academic practices (see above) must also be handed

Forms to submitt:

Blocking theses from public access

If the scientific work is not to be released for public availability due to sensitive company data, a block must be applied for. The SPL recommends that a blocking application be submitted when registering the work in the SSC and that copies of any contracts or agreements be enclosed.
The justification for the ban must be written in a comprehensible manner and the duration of the ban must be kept as short as possible. The Büro Studienpräses decides whether a ban can be approved and for how long (maximum 5 years) upon recommendation by the Director of Studies.

Link: Application for blocking thesis from public access

You can find out more about the difference between publishing the full text on the university publication server and blocking academic papers in the info sheet on the website of the Studienpräses.