Thesis Structure and Layout

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Types and Structure

There are four types of theses and two ways of writing them.

  • The four types are the research thesis, the engineering thesis, and two old, now retired theses types called teaching case thesis and business case thesis.
  • The two ways of writing the thesis are as a regular thesis or as a research paper thesis where the initial part of the thesis constitutes a research paper and a large appendix details it. The initial part then consists of 10 pages or 5000-6000 words structured according to the publication outlet where the paper is to be sent, and the appendix can be much larger.

Structure of a research thesis

The structure of a research thesis follows the structure common to a research paper:

  1. Introduction
  2. Related work
  3. Research design
  4. Data collection
  5. Research results
  6. Discussion
  7. Limitations
  8. Conclusions

Not every section is needed, some may have different names, and some may be merged.

Structure of an engineering thesis

The structure of an engineering thesis follows the design science approach:

  1. Introduction
  2. Problem identification
  3. Objective definition
  4. Solution design
  5. Implementation
  6. Demonstration
  7. Evaluation
  8. Conclusions

Feel free to take our NYT course and please talk to your supervisor or read Peffers et al. (2007) to learn about this approach.

As a Research Paper

In the default case, you’ll write your thesis as a linear text with the section shown above (or similiar).

If you are interested in turning your final thesis into a (research) publication, you can prepare for this in your final thesis already (maybe you want to get a Ph.D. position). For this, split the presentation of your thesis into two parts:

  • The first part, representing (nearly verbatim) the research paper; you should have a target publication outlet in mind and will want to watch their article length restrictions e.g. 10 pages.
  • The second part, which is the appendix to the first part. It is an expansion of the first part in which you add all the information that is important but didn’t make the cut (for the research paper).

Please talk to your supervisor first about this option.

Writing Style

Our NYT course provides advice on good writing style.

No C.V.

Some rules and regulations say you should add a C.V. (resume, Lebenslauf) to your thesis. We don’t want it. If you feel you must provide it, please only provide it as part of the printed thesis and omit it from the PDF. The PDF will get published on our blog and you don’t want your personal details to be found through search engines easily.

Other Information

Additional useful materials are being collected in this Drive folder.

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg