Master's thesis idea bank

Motivation for the activity

It can be difficult for students to find out what they should write their Master's thesis on - and writing it can be lonely. If you are responsible for the thesis module in the role of lecturer, you can help your students to find out, who writes about what - so that they can inspire one another or get together.

Learning objectives

The purpose of this 60-minute activity is to allow a class of students to hear what they are each contemplating writing their Master’s thesis on - with a view to reciprocal inspiration and any voluntary formation of writing pairs or writing groups.

Description of the activity

  1. At the beginning of the Master’s thesis semester you place 10-50 students in a circle, so everyone can see one another.
  2. Everyone must now explain what they want to write about in their Master’s thesis. The lecturer sets aside 20-30 minutes for the round table and keeps each one within the allotted time ( 30 seconds - 3 minutes).
  3. During this process all the students jot down the names of a couple of their fellow students that they will talk to afterwards, because their topics are related or interesting.
  4. Once the round table is over everyone stands up and proceeds to find a person that they want to talk to about common interests. In a matter of seconds groups of 2-5 people will form to talk to one another: "How will you approach the topic?" "I am thinking doing it like this” etc.
  5. After 10-15 minutes the lecturer interrupts the discussions and says that people are welcome to leave their group and find someone else if they have others on the list they jotted down.
  6. After 10-15 minutes you interrupt again and say "Thank you, that’s all for now! I hope you got a sense of what you and the other students are going to write about." There is no need to do more than that here – the formation of writing groups is sensitive and should maybe be left to the students, now that you have done the groundwork and exposed the students to one another.
  7. The room should be available for another half an hour so that the students can remain and carry on discussing after the lecturer has left.

Outcome of the activity

  • Everyone has much better opportunities of forming writing pairs or writing groups
  • Uncertain students get a sense of what a reasonable subject for a Master’s thesis could be and may also be inspired to choose a subject
  • Even though three students with roughly the same subject choose not to write together, they now know of each other’s existence and can always meet and spar with one another (see below).
  • The study environment is improved when everyone knows what the others are doing and are invited to make contact across traditional boundaries and groupings
  • Benefits for the lecturer: If writing- pairs or groups are formed, there will be fewer Master’s theses to read.

Ib Ravn

Associate professor
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