Ideas for Master's Thesis at Graduate Intro

Subject: All foreign languages at Arts. Course: Graduate intro workshop. Course level: Master. Course size: 20.

Motivation for the activity

Many students first think about the Master's thesis and possible topics shortly before they have to begin writing it. However, it would be an advantage if they had already searched for some ideas during their Master’s degree programme.

Central learning outcomes for the workshop

  • To give the student an overview of the entire Master’s degree process and make them aware of the crucial deadlines for the choice of profile and possible internship location or destination for studying abroad.
  • To initiate the process relating to career plans.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

To start the students on the process of reflecting on possible thesis topics, and in this way make them more aware of their own academic skills and enable them to make more qualified choices of elective subject etc. in the Master's degree program.

Description of the activity

The activity consists of a two hour workshop, which is included as an element in the graduate introduction for all new Master’s degree students taking the language subjects. At the workshop, the students are presented with some general points about writing and idea generation processes, while the workshop additionally consists of two main elements: an exercise for idea generation and a presentation of types of Master’s theses with examples.

  • Exercise: The students each receive a sheet of paper with approaches to topic ideas (e.g. knowledge from previous subjects, hobbies or study methods). On the basis of the sheet they work individually for five minutes, in which time they write down all the ideas they can come up with. They are then paired off and present their ideas for one another, provide sparring and develop the ideas for e.g. 10 minutes. You can stop the exercise here, or you can let them do the same again based on a new approach. At the end, everyone selects one idea which they present (very briefly) in plenum. In this regard it is important to emphasise that these are initial very loose ideas, and that there will definitely be differences in where they are in their thought process regarding them. Some may just have reached the stage where they think it would be exciting to work with a specific novel or do something that combines two subjects, while others will have more detailed ideas.
  • Presentation of types of Master's thesis: The workshop concludes with a presentation of which types of thesis you can write, with specific examples of former students’ thesis topics from the subject.

Outcome of the activity

Already here right at the beginning of the Master's degree programme, it turns out that the students have many ideas for possible academic topics that they could imagine working on, and through the exercises they also become clear about this. They become more aware of how they can make use of one another for academic sparring, and by hearing each other's ideas and being presented with the various types of Master's thesis, they at the same time get a sense of the breadth of their academic skills.

Reflections on the activity

It is important to underline to the students that the ideas they come up with are not, of course, binding and that it is important to be open towards discovering new areas of academic skills and finding new interests, as they go further in their graduate studies. The aim is not for them to determine a thesis topic already at the beginning of the Master's degree programme, but to show that they already have many ideas, and provide tools for how they can work on further developing these or finding new ideas up until they write their thesis, so they do not start from scratch the day they begin on the Master's thesis.

The idea generation exercise may be combined with a non-stop writing exercise, where they write for e.g. five minutes about the idea they have selected so as to come a little further with it. The text they write here is solely for the purpose of giving them a push to further their thought process, and will not be shown to others.

Exercises from Studypedia

  • Free Writing: Try the Tool: Free Writing at Studypedia. The exercise lasts between 15-30 minutes.

  • Generating Ideas: Read about Brainstorm and Mindmapping at Studypedia, which can provide inspiration for generating ideas and finding a topic for the Master's thesis.


Sven Halse

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