Masters Thesis & Projects

How do I find a Masters Thesis Topic?

The ideal way to find a Master thesis topic if you already know what area you are interested in is the following:

  • take courses that match your interests
  • take projects with the research groups in your area of interest
  • check out the websites of the research groups you are interested in AND ask the respective lecturers if they have interesting topics available

If you don’t have any specific area of interest, or were unable to find a good topic so far, here are some additional tips:

  • check the Thesis Portal for topics offered by various research groups of the faculty
  • check out thesis topics and projects offered on websites of external research institutions or companies, and find a professor or PD here to supervise

You can find the links to the groups websites listing research and thesis topics:

If you are struggling to identify a good option for you, feel free to contact our SI@FIN student support.

If you are not able to find a thesis topic yourself, you can appeal to the examination committee to get a topic assigned. However, if you take this option, you usually have no choice, but to take the topic given to you, so this should be a last resort.

How do I write a Masters Thesis?

Only start when you have finished 90 CP.

Writing a Masters thesis at a German University is a first try at individual research, under the guidance of a more experienced researcher. Therefore, it requires a lot of initiative and self discipline. Depending on the project you are working on, the group you are working with, your supervisor, and possibly other factors, the actual requirements of the thesis can differ largely. Be aware, that every professor/advisor has their own opinion, on what a good thesis should look like. Pay attention to what they say, and do not hesitate to ask if you are unsure.

Depending on your course of study, you have a limited amount of time available for completing the thesis, usually 22 weeks. Check out the regulations that apply to you.

Usually you will meet with your advisor regularly during that time to discuss progress, questions and suggestions. If your supervisor does not offer that by themselves, do not hesitate to take the initiative and ask for it, that is an important part of doing independent research. If your project / topic is from outside the university, be sure to keep your FIN supervisor updated on the progress of the project, since they will be grading you!

Usually a Masters thesis topic should contain the following elements:

  • an actual research question to be answered, not just a task to solve
  • criteria for the success of the thesis, which can be tested and evaluated at the end

A Thesis proposal is usually a good start for detailing and agreeing on an assigned thesis topic. The typical content of a thesis proposal is as follows:

  1. Preliminary title
  2. Background and context
  3. Problem and research topic
  4. State of the art
  5. Goals, theses, questions
  6. Benefit, relevance, originality
  7. Methodology
  8. Project plan
  9. Requirements

You can attend the PPSW course to learn more on how to write a good thesis proposal.

What is the maximum time limit to finish Master’s degree?

As of now there is no fixed time limit for completing masters in DE or DKE. However, if you exceed the regular studying duration (Regelstudienzeit) by more than four semesters, your semester fee will increase by 500 Euros per semester

What types of projects are there?

Depending on your course of study there are several different project types which you can or must participate in:

  • Scientific Team Project - 6 CP for Masters IF, WIF, CV and IngIF counts for Soft Skills area (one is required)
    • should be related to current research
    • must be conducted in a team, members can also be research staff
    • intended to acquire skills in scientific methods and practice soft skills
  • Individual Scientific Project - 6 CP for Masters IF, WIF, CV and IngIF (optional to replace regular courses)
    • is not done on a usual basis, but rather an exception for very good students who want to deepen their knowledge in a specific area
    • should be related to current research and should only follow up on successfully completed courses with the respective research group
    • intended to specialize in a field and prepare for future individual research activities, such as Masters thesis or PhD
  • Scientific Team Project for DKE - 6  CP for Master DKE counts for Applied Data Science (one is required)
    • must be conducted in a team
    • should be conducted in a DKE related topic
  • Digital Engineering Project - 12 CP for Master DE (one is required), can be split into two 6 CP projects
    • must be conducted in a team (i.e., 2 or more students)
    • should be interdisciplinary: not purely engineering or purely computer science
    • should be innovative: e.g. related to current research
    • can involve external research institutions or other (engineering) faculties
  • Interdisciplinary Team Project - 6 CP for Master DE (one is required)
    • should be from the complementary field of science (engineering or computer science)
    • must be conducted in a team

If you are not sure whether a specific project you are intending to participate in fits the requirements, contact your study supervisor.

What is a Digital Engineering Project?

A Digital Engineering project is a scientific team project that brings together student’s expertise from both fields, engineering and computer science. In particular, this can be

  • a project where methods, techniques, or concepts of computer science are applied to solve or support an engineering-related task, OR
  • a project where principles, methods, or techniques of any engineering discipline (electrical, mechanical, or other engineering disciplines) are applied in the context of a computer science problem or task

This does not imply, that only hardware-related/embedded systems topics are possible.

In any case, the envisioned project should define a problem (from practice or research) that has to be solved by a group of students (not necessarily all DE students).

How do I find a Digital Engineering Project?

In order to do a Digital Engineering Project you will need a topic and a supervisor at the Faculty of Computer Science or one of the Engineering Faculties. The official supervisor should be a professor or PD, but can sometimes also be a teaching assistant or a lecturer. For some example projects check out the following site:

You can find a limited number of Digital Engineering Projects in the LSF Portal. Using the portal in English, you can find some projects by searching the Courses through Course Overview. Navigate through the hierarchy by selecting: Fakultät für Informatik - Courses sorted by Degree Programmes - Digital Engineering Master - Digital Engineering Project. A search for the keyword "Digital Engineering" will also return some projects entered in that system.

You can also find some projects on the research groups/chairs homepages, which you can in turn find through the departments listed on the faculty homepage. Or check out the groups projects and thesis topics websites:

If you cannot find a project for yourself or your team by these means, do not hesitate to contact the lecturers or professors whose topic you are interested in. Be as specific in your request, as to what kind of project you are looking for and why you are asking that particular person. Check out our email etiquette article for further advice on writing emails.

When an how should I register a Project?

Please note that every exam must be registered with the FIN exams office, before you can take it and get the grade. This also holds for all types of projects (WTP, KMD, ITP, DE-P). You must register these using this form, or some list document containing the same information (including project duration and final exam date).

Registration must happen at least 2 weeks before the actual examination date. Projects registration is advisable when you start the project, since only then can you be sure, that you can get CP for that particular project in the area you are planning to count it for.

You can find more information on exam registration here.

What is a Project at a German university?

A student project at a German university involves largely individual and teamwork. Do not expect lectures or prescribed working hours e.g. in a lab. Doing a project usually involves the following:

  • Finding a project, a supervisor and possibly a team are all your responsibility. (see the answer to the previous question on how to do that)
  • The project topic will be assigned to you / your team near the beginning of the semester.
  • You are expected to specify milestones for yourself.
  • You are expected to figure out for yourself how to reach the goal set by the supervisor, e.g. splitting it in sub goals, deriving useful tasks, assigning the tasks to team members.
  • You are expected to do the work largely unsupervised and at your own initiative.
  • You are expected to come forward if you have any problems or doubts, do not wait until the supervisor asks you; that might never happen.
  • You might be required to give regular updates, such as kickoff or intermediate presentations.
  • You will be given a deadline for finishing the project, which usually involves a final presentation of the results and some kind of written report.

A project at a German university usually does NOT involve the following:

  • sitting in lectures or exercises
  • prescribed working hours in a lab
  • predetermined project plans with detailed times, tasks and requirements
  • regular feedback meetings initiated by the supervisor
  • the supervisor reminding you to do your work

All in all, these projects require, but also offer, a large amount of independent and autonomous work. This is intentional, since a Master's program should prepare you for a job in research or industry executive level, rather than "just" programming. If you are struggling with this autonomy or any other project related issues, always contact your supervisor. Even though we are trying to teach you independent work, most are more than willing to support and guide you on the way there, but it is important that you ask for it.

Are there any particular details I need to keep in mind if I wish to do my Master Thesis in collaboration with a company?

You always need an advisor at FIN, usually a professor, who accepts the project topic and signs your registration. You MUST find a advisor here at FIN who agrees to supervising and reviewing your thesis. Make sure to find your FIN advisor prior to signing any contracts with the company. If you start your company thesis before doing that, we cannot guarantee you find a supervisor here at the faculty.

Also make sure to contact your advisor regularly, since they will be the ones grading you. That person will also be your first thesis reviewer, the second reviewer can be a PhD from the company, or a senior employee, check with the examination committee head prior to fixing the second reviewer from outside the university.

Some companies have started having strict deadlines for thesis. The date of starting the thesis in the company must be the same date as registering the topic at the university. Students need to be aware of these kind of requirements prior to deciding to choose to work on a topic with a company.

You also need to clear up, whether the company needs an NDA to be signed by you or even your supervisor at FIN. The exam regulations permit restriction notes (Sperrvermerk) with retention periods of at most 2 years. But, you have to clear that up with your supervisor and the company.

Is there any particular format for the physical copy of my Master Thesis? Where can I find more information about this? 

In general there is no expected format. Ask your supervisor, if they have any preferences, guidelines or templates in their group. The master thesis must contain a cover page with the relevant information and a statement of authorship.

Two written and bound copies have to be handed in by the deadline, including a PDF usually on a CD for plagiarism check or sent via email. Please check the current regulations on the website of the examination office.

Can I attend Master Thesis defence of my colleagues? Where can I find updates of upcoming defences?

It is helpful to know how a thesis colloquium is usually conducted. It is encouraged for students to at least attend some defense sessions, especially for students who are currently working on their own thesis. Thesis defense dates are announced publicly, ask your supervisor to keep you updated or your colleagues :)

Last Modification: 27.02.2023 - Contact Person: Webmaster