Thesis project - ADS
In the thesis project, the student carries out a research project at Utrecht University or at another organization. All projects are performed within the applied data science focus area. The research activity will be done under the responsibility of a scientific staff member of Utrecht University and on a topic related to primary electives in the master programme. A list of pre-approved projects, to which students will be matched, is provided by the programme. Some of these projects (approximately 10) will be done within a Graduation Traineeship. In this context, besides completing the project, students will follow a personal development programme.
The contact person for the thesis projects is the ADS thesis coordinator, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ADS thesis should be written in block 4 of the master’s programme, and is credited with 14 ECTS. The thesis project takes about ten weeks, including the writing of the final product. The set up phase necessary to arrange the project is not included in the ten weeks. In case the project cannot be finished within the allotted time, the protocol as described under Procedures and forms for thesis project applies.
As part of the thesis, the student carries out a research project under the responsibility of a scientific staff member of Utrecht University. Some projects work with an external partner (e.g. a company), in which case the external partner may take on the daily supervision.
A list of pre-approved projects will be provided by the programme. Based on their preferences, students will be matched to a project. Students will work on the projects in small groups. Depending on the project, a group will have 2-3 students. Although the thesis projects are done in groups, each student is expected to write their own thesis manuscript.
When can a thesis be started?
In order to start the thesis project, students need to have successfully passed Data wrangling and data analysis (INFOMDWR) and at least three of the electives (22.5 EC).
Where do I start?
Read the practical information about the different stages of the thesis project below, which will be provided at the start of the thesis projects, for more detailed guidance on the writing aspect. If you have any questions that are not covered here, please contact the thesis coordinator (email@example.com).
After completing your thesis project, students will be able to:
- Formulate a data science problem such that the solution of this data science problem translates to a solution of the domain problem;
- Identify and assess relevant dataset(s), while considering potential legal and ethical issues;
- Analyze data using state-of-the-art data science methods;
- Assess whether results are accurate from a data science point of view;
- Draw conclusions on whether results contribute to the solution of the pre-defined problem and suggest areas of improvement;
- Independently and timely manage and execute the thesis process;
- Give a convincing presentation about the work;
- Write a scientific report about the conducted research.
Extra learning goals Graduation Traineeship:
- Being more effective in defining and reaching your goals
- Communicate well with team members and stakeholders
- Managing projects and relevant risks
Note: This timeline is tentative. The exact timeline will be published closer to the start of the thesis projects.
|March - Early April||- Project list is published, students fill out preference form for matching |
- Matching procedure
- Results of matching procedure are published
|Mid-April||- Preparatory meetings with supervisors |
- Obtain Workplace agreements and NDAs (if applicable)
- Register project in Osiris case
|24 April – 30 June||Official duration of 10-week thesis projects|
|June 30th||Student conference/defence: students present their thesis projects|
|Early July||Thesis submission: Manuscripts (along with source code and datasets) must be submitted to project supervisors.|
|Mid-July onwards||Evaluation by supervisors, submission of thesis grades|
The set-up stage takes place before the official start of the ten-week thesis project. During this stage, students will provide their preferences for a topic, after which they will be matched to a project and they can start preparing the necessary steps together with their supervisor(s).
A list of pre-approved projects will be made available by the thesis coordinator, including the names of the supervisor(s), a project description and additional pre-requisites (e.g., a project that relies on geospatial data analysis might require students to have followed the available geoscience courses). Each project will have space for 2-3 students.
Students will be assigned to a project through a matching procedure. Taking into account preferences as well as project requirements (e.g. electives followed), students are matched to a project. Please note that due to the popularity of some projects, it is not always possible to get your top choice, but we try to match everyone to one of their top preferences. After the matching is finished, students will be notified of the project that they were assigned to. Supervisors will also get a notification to contact the students that were assigned to their project and plan a first meeting to get started.
External partners: work placement agreements and non-disclosure agreements
For projects working with an external partner (i.e. a company or institution that is not the UU), a work placement agreement needs to be signed by the student, the UU-supervisor and the host institution and supervisor. This form can be found below under Procedures and forms for thesis projects.
Some companies might require that the student signs a separate non-disclosure agreement. Since this procedure can take some time, the student should contact their supervisor about this as soon as possible after being matched to the project.
Registering your project in Osiris Case
Before the formal start of the project, students need to register their project in Osiris Case. For this, the first and second examiners of the project need to be known. The first examiner always corresponds to the UU supervisor of the project. The second examiner will also be a UU employee, but is not necessarily involved in the day-to-day supervision. External partners can be supervisors, but are not examiners. Students should contact their supervisor if they do not know who the second examiner is.
To open a case, the student should go to ‘’Osiris.uu.nl > Cases > My cases > New case > Thesis Project ADS’’ and fill in the necessary information. In the case of a project with an external partner, the work placement agreement form as well as a signed NDA (if applicable) should be uploaded here as well.
Once the student has submitted their case, it will have to be approved by the first and second examiner, as well as the thesis coordinator, programme coordinator and the Board of Examiners.
During the ten-week thesis project, the student will go through the various stages of the research and writing process:
- Complete the research project;
- Write an academic report on the conducted research and its results;
- Present and defend the results and conclusions during the thesis defense (see Wrap up section)
Content of the thesis
The thesis should be written as an academic paper. The exact structure might differ between projects, so students should discuss specific structure and layout preferences (templates, reference style, presentation of code etc.) with their supervisors at the beginning of the project. Next to the thesis, students should also provide their source code and datasets when handing in their final product.
The thesis should contain at least the following elements:
- Title page, containing: name of the student, name of the supervisors, student number, date, name of the programme (master Applied Data Science, Utrecht University)
a. Motivation and context
b. Literature overview
c. Research question
a. Selected data exploration results
b. Data preparation for analysis including motivation (integration, missing data analysis, etc.)
c. Ethical and legal considerations of the data
a. Translation of the research question to a data science question
b. Motivated selection of method(s) for analysis
c. Motivated settings for selected method(s)
a. Selected analysis results
- Conclusion and Discussion
a. Answering the data science question
b. Answering the research question
c. Describing implications for the proper domain setting
d. Discuss ethical implications and consideration
- List of references
a. Annotated scripts of analyses and method settings
b. Full data exploration results
c. Full analysis results
The final grade for the thesis project is made up of the following components:
- Process (30%): Independence in execution of the project, independence in writing the report, planning and meeting deadlines, communication, integrity and responsibility, critical and reflective attitude
- Thesis (60%): Introduction, data and methods, results, discussion, English language usage, references
- Presentation (10%): Structure, context, content, quality of slides/media, presentation skills, suitability for audience, ability to cope with questions
When a thesis supervisor, usually a researcher from the focus area Applied Data Science, agrees to supervise a student’s master’s thesis, the following is agreed upon:
- is responsible for her/his master’s thesis
- works independently and shows commitment
- follows up on agreements and deadlines
- includes feedback and advice from her/his supervisor into her/his master’s thesis
- hands in a draft version of the master’s thesis that is to the best of his/her abilities (including feedback and complete references, and paying attention to style and grammar)
- follows university rules and guidelines, specifically the OER
- informs the supervisors of process and possible delays
- will be in touch with the student on a regular basis (he/she will be available for advice, will answer emails and will have regular appointments with the student)
- will read the student’s research proposal as formulated in the thesis application form and will provide feedback on that proposal
- will read one version of every thesis chapter and will provide feedback on that chapter
- will read one version of the completed draft version of the master’s thesis and will provide feedback on that version
- will provide the student with constructive feedback on the thesis and the process
- together bear responsibility for the grading of the final version of the master’s thesis and presentation, and handing in the assessment form within ten working days to the student desk of the Graduate School of Natural Sciences
If a truly irresolvable conflict arises between the student and the supervisor they should contact not only the thesis coordinator but also the programme coordinator. For smaller problems, the student can contact the student counsellor (studieadviseur), who may serve as a mediator or request another thesis advisor.
After the student has finished working on their thesis, it is time to wrap up the project and start the graduation procedure.
On 30th of June 2023 there will be a whole session in which all the students will present their theses. Each student will have a short presentation in front of the examination committee. The place and time of the students presentations will be announced by the ADS coordinator one week before 30th of June via the ADS mailing list.
The thesis defense is public, so students are allowed to invite family and friends to the event during a certain timeslot, that will be announced by the ADS coordinator via the ADS mailing list.
Publishing thesis to Osiris thesis archive
After the defense, the student must upload the final version of their thesis through Osiris Case.
In order to graduate by the end of the academic year, the deadline for the final grades to be entered is in mid-August (typically around the 15th).
The Student Desk at Student Affairs keeps track of the student’s study progress in Osiris. When Osiris indicates that a student has completed all the required elements of their degree, their dossier is forwarded to the Board of Examiners. The Board of Examiners then checks whether the student meets all examination requirements for graduating (and if applicable, whether they can receive the judicium cum laude). Following the Board's approval the student will receive their graduation date via email (UU-account). The graduation ceremony, an official ceremony during which the student will receive their diploma, will take place at a later date.
Regulations concerning potential delays are given in the Education and Exam Regulations (OER).
If a student suspects that they will experience a delay, they should first contact their supervisor to see if they can find a way to still finish the project in time. If this is not the case, they should involve the thesis coordinator and the Board of Examiners. The Board of Examiners will judge whether an extension can be granted and inform the student of the length of the extension.
Students should be aware that extensions may lead to a delay in their graduation, which means they might need to enroll for (part of) the new academic year. The availability of the involved parties (thesis and program coordinator, first and second supervisors, Board of Examiners) will be limited during the summer holidays.
Within all Master's programmes one or more research projects are mandatory. Please see ‘Study programme’ for general information on such projects in your curriculum. In many cases, a research project may be carried out outside of the university, in the form of an internship at a company, research institute, or another university. This can be in the Netherlands as well as abroad, with the exception of ADS (see also: ‘study abroad’).
You are required to apply for approval of your research project by submitting a request via OSIRIS Student. Please select ‘My Cases’, ‘Start Case’ and then ‘Research Project GSNS’. Important: in order to apply completely and correctly, you must have discussed the project setup with your intended project supervisor beforehand! We advise you to study the request form previous to discussing it with your supervisor, or fill it out together, to make sure you obtain all of the information required.
After submitting your request, it will be forwarded to your master’s programme coordinator, the board of examiners and student affairs for checks and approvals. After approval of your project it will be automatically registered in OSIRIS. If something needs to be amended, you will be notified by email. Please DO NOT register yourself in OSIRIS for the relevant research project courses. You will be automatically registered upon approval of the Research Application Form.
- Please note that this protocol (English version) applies when a project is delayed
- In case of a project or internship outside of Utrecht University, please make sure you fill out the Work Placement Agreement in OSIRIS Student / my cases. This agreement will be available for filling out in OSIRIS Student / My Cases after you have submitted your initial request for research project approval