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Final Thesis

In your thesis paper, you are supposed to perform scientific research in the field of medical engineering. If you are not yet familiar with the concept of scientific work, you can acquire these skills in the course “Nailing your Thesis” (only offered in summer semester, look for it in UnivIS). Many labs also offer regular colloquium meetings for students to discuss problems and advances regarding their thesis projects. If you are in need of practical tips and support with your writing process in German or English, FAU’s Writing Centre is there to help you.

For the Master’s Thesis, the following applies:

The topic is issued by a fulltime (note: depending on FPO version) university teacher of the School of Engineering whose lab/institute is participating in the lectures offered in the Medical Engineering program (Bachelor or Master program; consult the lists of labs involved in our Study Guide Medical Engineering). Companies cannot issue thesis topics!

The thesis paper is supervised by the issuing university professor involved in the Medical Engineering program (or one of his/her employees, usually PhD students) and additionally by a medical supervisor (staff member of the university hospital or a similar institution, i.e. member of a different clinic/radiology centre, or a licensed physician; in any case the supervisor must hold an academic title). Many supervisors in the Medical Engineering program already have contacts to medical supervisors and can help you with finding one. Please discuss with your medical supervisor early on to which degree he/she wants to be involved in the process of your work – whether you should report on your thesis regularly or whether he/she will only read your final paper before you hand it in.

You can register your Master’s thesis as soon as you have completed at least 75 ECTS credits in the compulsory modules of your study program and found at topic and supervisor. Master’s students studying according to the examination regulations (FPO) of 2018 or later also have to proof the completion of the mandatory modules of their branch of study when registering. You must register for the thesis paper at the Examinations Office through your supervising lab using the German registration form for thesis papers (a non-official translation in English is available for your support but not intended for communication with FAU). You submit a copy of the German form at the Examinations Office and keep the original as it is needed for the final registration at the time of submission (see below).

The time required to complete the final thesis is predetermined. For every ECTS credit, you are supposed to work for about 30 hours, i.e. for the 30 credits of the Master’s thesis module, 900 hours are assumed.

For the Master´s thesis, you will receive a period of six months for completion, i.e. the last semester should be entirely devoted to your Master´s thesis.

You have to hand in the final written thesis at the supervising lab until the official deadline.  You must submit it in two copies – one printed and bound, the other one as a PDF file on a storage device (e.g. USB stick). The thesis presentation and the grading can take place after the deadline. After that, the grade(s) will be communicated to the Examinations Office by your supervisor within four weeks, using the bottom section of the Registration form for thesis papers (see above).

In many cases potential thesis subjects are advertised on the labs’ webpages or noticeboards. In order to find your thesis topic, please browse the websites of the respective labs (all of them have a “research” and/or “thesis” section) and contact the responsible persons. If you are interested in non-advertised subjects, you can contact the researchers in charge (mostly PhD students) directly and inquire if it is possible to work on a subject of their research field. You are also welcome to make an appointment with a professor (usually through their secretary – see UnivIS) and discuss with them in person which projects they currently offer.

Not every topic must have a direct relation to Medical Engineering. You can also work on a more common topic. However, at least one subsection (about one page) should describe how the topic could be applied in Medical Engineering. In any case, you need a medical supervisor (see above).

Start early! In the Master´s programme, it is recommended to search for possible topics at the beginning of the second year of your studies. In this way, you still have time to take matching study modules to acquire specialised knowledge you will need for the thesis. At the very latest, you should start looking for a topic at the end of your penultimate semester.

In general, it is allowed to write a final thesis in cooperation with a business or a research institution, provided that the academic supervisor from the Medical Engineering programme agrees. The above mentioned regulations also apply in this case. It is the student´s responsibility to coordinate and communicate the topic and the requirements between the issuing university teacher and the external partner.  For more information please consult the information sheet for issuance and procedure of “external” Bachelor’s and Master’s Theses and dissertations. Your best chance to pursue a thesis project in cooperation with an industrial partner is to inquire at a lab which already maintains cooperations with companies (more information can be found on the respective lab’s website). The other way round, i.e. finding a project with an external partner and then looking for a lab to supervise it is hardly ever successful and therefore not recommended. Topics advertised by companies do usually not meet acdemic standards and/or our labs’ research profiles. Please do not sign any contracts with a company regarding a potential thesis before having a supervisor at FAU!

  • Final research papers in engineering range from concrete technical applications to more theoretical topics. In any case they should demonstrate that their author has the ability to work on a chosen task independently, scientifically and methodologically within a limited period of time.
  • Establish a working plan.
    • First, make a detailed plan, in which you consider the opening hours of the workplaces you go to, as well as the availability of your supervisor. It is also important not to over-charge and set clear short-term deadlines.
    • Be aware of your time management: in order to control the time factor, it is essential to plan the thesis by formulating realistic goals. You should create a concrete plan which has to be discussed with the supervisor as well. It is certainly helpful to schedule certain time buffers and check from time to time if the schedule works for you. Disturbances and distractions should be avoided as well as unclear goals or overloading your schedule.
    • It may be helpful to consult with fellow students who are either working within a similar time frame or on a related topic.
    • Break your thesis into defined stages: collection of ideas, project phase, data analysis, writing and polishing.
    • According to experience, the greatest level of stress comes towards the end of your project. Plan as few other activities as possible around this time, so that you can meet your submission deadline.
  • Collaboration with your thesis supervisor: Remember to work independently and taking into account the deadlines so that your supervisor can rely on you. Let your supervisor always know what the status of your work is. Let him/her know early on if you are struggling with a certain task. Although your supervisors cannot do the work for you they can help you with useful hints on how to solve your problem.
  • Once you have chosen your topic, you can start to research the resource material to get an overview of the current status of your topic. You must consider which concrete questions you would like to answer in your thesis and which methods you will apply. Once you have those questions, the university library database or academic search engines are extremely helpful.
  • Set a clear deadline in your working plan for completing your initial research.
  • By using an electronic organization system (e.g. Citavi, the RRZE offers courses) for organizing your sources, you can gain the best overview of the material you have read. Please ask your supervisor which citation style you should use. In any case it is crucial that you stick to one citation system. It is important that your organize your sources (articles, quotes, etc.) as you go through the writing process.
  • In order not feel overwhelmed by too many tasks, a good outline is crucial. Your outline should be clear, well-structured and comprehensible for the reader and supervisor. A good outline is an important foundation for good advising. On the basis of your outline, you can discuss your specific questions, the structure, and length of your thesis with your supervisor.
  • Remember to always write down your acquired knowledge/results!
  • Cite correctly.
    • One of the hardest tasks when writing your thesis is correct citation. You must indicate the source of every idea that is not your own and every fact on which you have based your argument.
    • A literal quote (direct quote) must be referenced.
    • Paraphrases (indirect quotes) also have to be referenced.
    • A list of all citations (direct and indirect quotation), tables and graphs must be included in the source of your bibliography.
    • Recommendation: Indicate all citations and enter their sources in your bibliography or reference list as you draft your thesis.
  • Save your data when you stop writing at the end of day or when you finish a task. Always back up your data on various storage media!
  • Always keep your initial questions in mind during the writing phase. It can easily happen that you get off the track.
  • Format your thesis according to the requirements of your supervising lab. Many labs will provide you with a template.
  • Allow sufficient time for proofreading. At best, look for someone (friends, family, fellow students, etc.) who is willing to take a close look at your work.
  • Check that all references as well as the format and form of the work are correct. LaTeX is definitely more helpful than Word in this respect. Alternatively, you can also find courses offered by the RRZE for scientific work.
  • Remember that your work must be submitted to your supervisor on time, in one hardcopy version and one digital version (PDF document) on a storage device.