5 Stages of Writing a Bachelor Thesis in Sweden

Writing a bachelor thesis is scary. It involves long and never-ending pages of academic writing and days filled with pressure from your supervisor’s expectations. Doing a bachelor thesis project in a foreign country is a whole new experience. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions, much like the famous 5 stages of grief (see the hint? 😉). Sweden has some of the world’s most renowned universities, offering many innovative research opportunities. So, what is it like to do a bachelor thesis project in Sweden?

Before starting – choosing a topic and a supervisor

Bachelor students in Sweden are not usually expected to come up with their research topic independently. It is possible, but you need to find a supervisor interested in overseeing it. That is why it’s not so common. Students can, however, pick an area of interest. Topics of bachelor theses are usually offered by the universities. You choose the one that you’re most interested in. You may also have the opportunity to do your thesis abroad or at another university in Sweden. It’s your responsibility to contact the person with whom you’d like to collaborate on the thesis.

My experience

I knew I wanted to do my thesis in Gothenburg, preferably focusing on gut health. I contacted a senior research scientist in a research group at the University of Gothenburg. In the email, I specified why I am interested in the research group and my current skill level. She took me on even though they do not commonly accept bachelor students. That’s how I found my supervisor.
Sometimes, universities collaborate with one another or with companies, so there you may be offered an opportunity to join without reaching out on your own.

A girl holding lab equipment and smiling.
Photo: Annamaria

Stage 1: Confusion

The project is starting soon. You get some instructions on what to do and what’s expected from you from your university. It’s a lot of information, kind of all at once. Even when the project finally starts, you start to realise that work at the research lab is not the same as your lab courses. You get protocols you have never done before and you might work with equipment you were not prepared to use.

My experience:

For me, this stage was challenging but also exciting. I was scared the first few days because I didn’t know where to start. I just felt like I wasn’t prepared enough for this and the lab supervisor was so fast while I just struggled to understand simple concepts. This is where reading a lot about your topic helps a lot. It’ll get clearer day by day.

Notebook and books on a table by the window.
Photo: Annamaria

Stage 2: Determination

In this stage (about 2 months after you started), it starts to get better. Possibly you feel like you can do it. You start to understand the topic you chose and you have a plan on what needs to be done. Finally you feel like maybe you can do it.

Stage 3: Focused Work

You work, work, work, work, work… Yep, as Rihanna says. Now you know how to do stuff, your writing is improving. Soon you’ll be able to send some sections to your supervisor for comments.

Library door
Photo: Annamaria

My experience:

This is when I started to feel a bit more confident. Once you understand the methods and you have them written down, you finish the introduction and then it’s only results and discussion left, right?

Stage 4: Mental Breakdown

Then you get the feedback. That’s when you realise it’s not as good as you thought (unless you’re special). You receive a lot of comments. So much to correct and you still need to finish writing the discussion. When is this going to end???

Gif by Vortexeal/Tenor

My experience:

At this stage, I started to worry. The deadlines are super close but you are not even close to being done. I was working on the project until late at night and woke up dreaming about things I needed to correct. This part was the hardest.

Stage 5: Acceptance

The end is just few days, maybe hours away. The worry goes away… It’s done! You did your best. You acknowledged the work you did, maybe feel a little proud while preparing for your presentation. No matter the result, you kind of already accepted it.

A girl presenting a presentation slide.
Photo: Annamaria

After the presentation, you find out your grade. Most likely you graduated and you start to feel happy. You did it!

My experience:

My bachelor thesis project was definitely not perfect. There was a lot that could have been improved. But I was happy because I finished. And then, I graduated! I celebrated with my family and some of my friends and all I could feel was pride. I graduated a Swedish university, what a great achievement! 😍

A girl wearing a graduation hat and taking a selfie with mother and father.
Photo: Annamaria

Written by Annamaria

06 Jul 2024