Guidelines for Writing a Master Thesis
In accordance with the accredited study plans, master study at MFF UK is completed by the State Final Examination, comprising the oral part and the master thesis defence. All knowledge requirements for the oral part of the state final examination can be found in the study plans of the relevant study branch. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide students with essential information about the master thesis, namely its
- writing up,
All the information provided in these guidelines is based on Code of study and examination of Charles University, Rules of Study at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Dean's Directive No. 27/2023 – Formal Aspects of a Thesis, Dean's Directive No. 26/2023 – The Dean's Measures Regulating the Submission and Publication of Theses.
It is advisable to apply for the assignment of your master thesis at the beginning of your third year of study. The assignment process is activated through the module Thesis (Selection of subject) in the MFF UK Study Information System (SIS). Theses must be written in Czech, Slovak or English (exceptions must be approved by the Dean). If the language of the thesis has been determined in the assignment process (see below), it is necessary to write the thesis in that language (a change in language can only be approved by the Dean); if the language has not been determined yet, it is possible to choose the language later, before submission of the thesis.
- In the above-mentioned module Thesis, newly announced topics as well as topics of currently supervised and already defended theses can be searched for with respect to various criteria (study programme, study branch, department, supervisor, year of announcement, keywords and others).
- Once you have selected the topic for your thesis, you should first contact the teacher who offers it. All the necessary details are to be discussed and agreed on with him/her in person.
- If you cannot find any suitable topic for your thesis among the announced topics, you can contact a teacher and propose your own topic.
- Be aware of the fact that you will have to defend the thesis before the State Final Examination Committee of your study programme and branch. We therefore recommend that you select a topic primarily from the list of topics in your area (e.g., students of computer science should choose topics from computer science teachers at Malá Strana). If you wish to select a topic from another section, it is advisable that you discuss your choice with the study branch coordinator or the Head of the State Final Examination Committee.
- To select an available topic, click the Enter button. It is important to note that this step does not complete the assignment process.
- To complete the process successfully, the supervisor has to confirm in SIS your position as “author”. Before confirming, check with him that all the data are correct (i.e., the name of the supervisor, thesis title, language, study programme and branch). If there is more than one applicant for the topic, the supervisor will choose to whom the topic will be assigned.
The aim of the master thesis is to demonstrate an ability to work independently. The form a bachelor thesis takes may vary (background research, software, proof of a new theorem, etc.), due to the differences between various study programmes and disciplines. Presentation of original results is always desirable, but not necessary. Below are the essentials concerning writing up a thesis:
- Detailed information on the form a bachelor thesis should take (graphics, structure, citation standards, etc.), including some useful recommendations, can be found in the document Master Theses Layout (detailed version in Czech, brief version in English).
- Use the LaTeX template for typesetting the thesis. Typesetting will be easier and it will help you observe the rules of the above-mentioned Dean's Directive No. 27/2023 – Formal Aspects of a Thesis. You can also use the rtf template, but you will probably not achieve the same typographic quality.
- All sources used in the thesis must be properly cited to avoid violating the rules of academic ethics. You must also avoid plagiarism: if you reproduce an extract from another author's text, it is obligatory to enclose it in quotation marks or give other clear indication of its status as borrowed text, as well as citing the source.
- The front cover should include the following information: Charles University, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Master thesis, the author's name and surname, the year of submission and, optionally, the thesis title, all in the language of the thesis (in the case of Slovak, the name of the university, faculty are not translated).
- According to § 47b (3) of the Amendment to the Higher Education Act, by submitting his/her work the author agrees to the publication of his/her thesis, regardless of the outcome of the defence. Exceptional situations where appendices to a thesis, or temporarily the whole thesis, need not be published are described in Rule 7, Dean's Directive No. 26/2023.
The deadline for submission of a master thesis is specified in the Academic calendar. After being submitted, the thesis will be assessed. The reviewer and supervisor reports are both necessary documents for the defence before the State Final Examination Committee. The basic guidelines are as follows:
- Master thesis in Mathematics / Physics is submitted in one hard copy, in Computer Science, no hard copy is required (i.e., only the electronic version is submitted, see below). The type of binding is optional. One printed copy of the thesis (if required) is handed over by the student to the chair of the final thesis defence board before the defence.
- An electronic version of the thesis should be submitted to SIS at the same time. Detailed information can be found here. The electronic file (with attachments) should not exceed 850 MB in size.
- If the submitted thesis does not meet the formal requirements of Dean's Directive No. 27/2023, the thesis is deemed not to have been submitted.
- Every submitted master thesis is examined and a report is prepared by the supervisor and the reviewer to assess the content and formal qualities of the work. For this purpose there is a pre-printed report form.
- The supervisor and reviewer submit their reports to the head of the State Final Examination Committee via SIS at least five days before the defence. You can read more about the technical details here. The reports are also available to the author via SIS. We recommend that you become acquainted with the reports so that in the defence you can respond to potential criticism and queries from the examiners appropriately.
- Under exceptional circumstances the student may apply to the Dean for a change of topic.
The thesis defence is part of the state final examination. The examination normally takes place three times during the academic year, i.e., at regular dates in spring (June), autumn (September) and winter (January – February). The specific fortnight in which the state final examination is to take place is given in the Academic calendar. The exact date is published in SIS at least two weeks before the examination. Besides timely application, students must meet all the conditions prescribed by the study plan of a particular study branch (such as the number of credits and completion of all obligatory courses) to participate in the defence (as well as other parts of the state final examination). The submission of a master thesis cannot be regarded as a submission for a defence. It is always necessary to apply in the SIS.
- Applications for the state final examination or a part of it (e.g., in case of a resit) are made in SIS at a time in accordance with the Academic calendar.
- The thesis defence consists of a brief author's presentation (typically using a poster or slideshow) followed by assessments from the supervisor and reviewer. Subsequently, the author responds to comments and suggestions raised by the reviewer as well as from the floor. Other details (e.g., the timing of the presentation) are stipulated by the head of the committee.
- In the event that the author does not succeed in the defence, the committee may recommend revision and resubmission of the thesis. The author can also apply to the Dean to be assigned a new topic. A new topic assignment does not constitute a right to another date for a thesis defence.
We wish you a successful graduation from your master studies at MFF UK!
Study Programme Coordinators, Heads of Committees for the State Final Examinations, and Vice-Dean for Education