Writing a Master's Thesis - what's it like?

Two cats sitting next to a laptop.

If you are planning to apply for a master's programme at Tampere University, you have all the delights of the research life waiting ahead.

In case you are already doing your studies, you are thus far aware of the main steps you are supposed to consider when writing your “masterpiece”. In either case, I would like to share some reflections regarding the thesis writing practice with you.

How to choose the topic?

To begin with, you need to come up with a topic for your master’s thesis. As you might assume, it would be great if you managed to consider both your personal interests and the problems that are relevant to your field of study. The combination of these two aspects forms the “core” of your work and guarantees that your topic will be interesting and vital. You also need to realize that if necessary, you can later adjust or modify the topic.

After some thorough investigation regarding the issues which are currently viewed as crucial in your field, you can ask your supervisor to help you determine and refine your focus area. Don’t be afraid to ask other professors and teachers for advice, too! They can offer you some options to choose from and help you decide upon the further course you are going to proceed with your project. They will also help you decide what methodology you will utilize and what research methods you will apply in your research.

The role of your supervisor is hard to underestimate, since they are the people who guide and support you through the whole process of your thesis writing. I’m speaking from experience, and I am really grateful to my supervisor.

Having applied for your master’s programme, you have probably thought about the future career path you are planning to follow after graduation. Well, keeping in mind that your thesis is a step towards your future job will definitely provide you with a good deal of motivation during the whole process of thesis writing.

Motivation is the key

Motivation is what keeps us “on our toes”, as we can see the main goal of our study journey, which is, among other things, about finding a good job with all kinds of benefits. You also might happen to decide to continue your studies on a higher level and do your PhD after receiving the master’s degree – this motivation does not seem to be less relevant than the one I have mentioned previously, does it?

Having written some draft pieces of your thesis, you might sometimes feel stuck with developing your ideas further. And here comes the peers support – a thing which might turn out to be more beneficial than you could expect. It is always a good idea to discuss your ideas and share your texts with your mates; some of them might comment on the content and on language issues (e.g., grammar, vocabulary, style etc.), while others will just look at your logic and structure from a different angle.

Getting a new perspective will introduce a “jolt of fresh air” into your project. In some programmes, it is a common practice for students to review and write feedback on their peers’ thesis drafts – e.g., as a mandatory part of their thesis seminar course. Your friends (and even your pets – speaking from experience again!) are going to be an enormous source of support. For example, my cats are always ready to give me a hand (or, actually, a paw:) when I need help with my thesis writing.

Remember to take breaks

In case neither peers’ insights nor regular meetings with your supervisor help and you feel you are just getting tired of your studies and of your writing activity in particular – take a break! Although self-discipline is obviously the key to successful writing, and it is really important to draw up a plan and follow it while writing your thesis, sometimes just allow yourself to chill for a while and spend a day, a week, or even more without even thinking about your text (sounds crazy, right? But it does work!).

Writing your thesis should not be about suffering, it’s about enjoying – so, if you really feel frustrated and discouraged (that happens quite often, especially when students are overwhelmed with lots of homework, projects, seminars, and lectures) – just admit it and accept it. You are on the right way and just in need of some rest.  Allow yourself to have a small pause in your writing process, and you will definitely catch up with your project when you get back to work – refreshed, renewed, and full of new ideas!

Help is available!

As for the technical side of writing, I would like to mention a couple of things. I probably don’t even need to remind you that research ethics is highly valued at Tampere University. The originality of your work is one of the top priorities. Among other resources, you will need to use Turnitin – a special plagiarism checker utilized by the University to ensure the originality of your text.

The library of Tampere University provides you with a wide range of services and sources (books, e-books, journal articles, and databases), which will help you make your research more significant and thorough. For example, Andor – Tampere University Library’s search service – is one of the most useful tools you can rely on while searching for relevant information in your area. Do not hesitate to ask the library staff – they are really helpful and willing to assist!

And do not be afraid if your English needs a brush-up! There are also numerous courses offered by the University, which will help you develop your academic and technical writing skills. Teachers are very supportive and cooperative – they will help you raise your scientific writing competence.

Two cats sitting in front of a laptop.


Last but not least: if for some reason you are not able to submit your thesis within the allocated period (usually it is two academic years), you can apply for an extension of your studies and get some extra time to finalize your master’s project. To some of you it might sound quite encouraging, I know. It sure did to me.

To sum it up, I would say that we all understand that writing a good thesis is the student’s responsibility. Nonetheless, studying at Tampere University, you will be provided with a set of different practical research tools and will be surrounded by a supportive team of teachers, staff members, and group mates, who will be happy to help you submit an excellent thesis! And remember, the thesis project is not only about the ultimate result but about enjoying the very process of writing! Good luck to you all!

– Valeriia

About the writer: Moi kaikille! My name is Valeriia, I am from Russia, now doing my master’s degree in Teacher Education at Tampere University. I like travelling (especially to Northern countries) and enjoy my studying at this university SOOO much! Back in my home country, I help homeless animals, and my dream is that some day they will be treated there like they are in Finland – with due respect, care and love.

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