Thesis Writing – One-year masters edition

With the summer slowly approaching, my master’s degree is already almost coming to an end. I finished my last course in March and now only have my thesis left until I am officially done! Because everything is happening so fast in a one-year degree, I thought I would share my first thoughts, experiences and tips with you, on what to remember and be aware of when writing your thesis, so you will be (unlike me) optimally prepared when you are at this time of your studies.

My Thesis – some facts

In my program, our thesis comprises 15 ECTS which translates to 25-35 pages. This is not much, but we also do not have much time. While we had one seminar in December where we should brainstorm ideas, our first real thesis seminar, and the allocation of supervisors just happened this month, which means that we only have a total of 8 weeks to write our entire thesis. We are completely free to decide what we want to write our thesis on and there are almost no limitations. This means great freedom, but for me also great confusion. With having had courses up until last month, there was not much time to really think about your thesis and now time is running out fast.

My main problem right now is to specify my question and find good sources. I chose to discuss a meta-ethical problem, which is very broad, very difficult, but also very exciting! I like reading about my topic and learning more about it, but 8 weeks are really not a lot of time to dive deep into (and understand) the philosophical thoughts on global problems, while critically assessing them and finding some kind of solution to the problem at hand.

My advice

Start early: This seems obvious in whatever you do but it really is essential to start thinking (and working) early when time is so limited. Research ideas, get some books, and ideally have your hypothesis somewhat figured out when the time for actually writing starts.

Research a lot: This is what is currently taking me a lot of time. Not having known what I want to write about until a couple of weeks ago, I naturally am just now doing all my research. And let me just tell you: this takes time! Especially in philosophy. Everything I read is very in-depth, not easy to understand, and of course not everything I read is useful. So it would be very helpful to get some book/article/author suggestions beforehand so you already have a point to start from.

Talk to friends: For me it is always very helpful to discuss my ideas with friends. They may have an idea how to broaden or specify your topic, they may have read something in that area that might be of help, and can always be a first contact when you are having some difficulties.

Work with your supervisor: The supervirsors are there to help you and have a lot more experience than you! So ask them for help when you need it, listen, try to incorporate their suggestions, and take their feedback seriously. It will improve your work a lot and since they are quite knowledable in your area of research you should trust their advice for a good thesis.

Don’t go to deep: This is also a problem I am currently facing: when doing a one-year master, and writing a thesis of only +- 30 pages, you will simply not be able to go very deep into a topic. You therefore need to be very specific in your question, so you can dicuss this topic at length and your thesis will not just be a superficial discussion of a broad area. It is also quite hard for me to accept the fact that you cannot discuss at length every aspect that you find relevant for your thesis, but it is simply something you have to accept when doing such a short master’s.

I hope this post was of some help to you if you are also doing a one-year master’s degree and you will soon be in the same situation as me!

Wish me luck that I will manage to write a good thesis and stay tuned!



Written by Justine

21 Apr 2017