In the final thesis project, the student carries out a research project under the supervision of one of the staff members of the research groups offering the AI programme. The project can be done based at Utrecht University, at a company or research institute, or at a foreign university.

When looking for a project, please check the following sources.

  • This document shows the UU AI supervisors and their general interests.
  • Konjoin always has a number of AI projects.
  • Jobteaser also has interesting external internships for AI students.


The AI Thesis Project is split into a 14EC project proposal phase (INFOMAI1) and a 30EC thesis phase (INFOMAI2). The thesis project takes about 8 months (three periods). The set up phase that is necessary to arrange your project is not counted. 

The thesis project consists of a project idea, a UU graduation supervisor, and a graduation project facilitator. The project facilitator can either be a company or the university. Original ideas from the students are welcome, as long as they are aligned with the research interests and/or proposed projects by the supervisors.

For a thesis project, the student always needs a supervisor from one of the research groups of the UU offering the AI programme. If the final project is conducted within a company or external institute, both a local supervisor within the company/institute and a supervisor of the AI programme teaching staff monitor and guide the student.

When can a thesis be started? When all courses are successfully completed, with the exception of Dillema's of the Scientist (FI-MHPSDIL), for which you can do the second workshop during your theses process. Further exceptions can be given by the AI programme coordinator (Floris Bex) for students with one pending course. Note that you should start looking for a supervisor and a subject before you have finished all your courses (see “Set Up” below).

Where do I start? Read the information on the various stages of the thesis project below. If you have any questions not covered here contact the graduation & programme coordinator Floris Bex (

How long does the thesis take? Normally, a thesis project (phase 1 + phase 2) runs for 3 periods/terms (see the schedules). However, holidays, courses or other activities may lead to a thesis projects that takes slightly longer. Please note that this protocol applies when a project is delayed.

Previous theses. To get an overview of what an AI thesis looks like, you can consult previous theses online.

Learning goals. After completing your thesis project, you will

  • have advanced knowledge about a specific subject within AI;
  • be able to findings on a specific subject within the broader, interdisciplinary field of AI;
  • be able to independently perform a critical literature study;
  • be able to formulate a research question of interest to AI and a plan / method to answer this research question;
  • be able to perform scientific research according to a predetermined plan and a standard method within AI;
  • be able to report the research findings in the form of a scientific thesis;
  • be able to report the research findings by means of an oral presentation

This preliminary step is executed before the official start of Phase 1. The duration largely depends on how quickly a supervisor is found and a topic is agreed upon. This part is excluded from the duration of the thesis project.

1. Find a project and a supervisor

You can do an external or an internal (UU) project. The following tips might come in handy when looking for a project.

  • Think about the courses you found interesting and ask the lecturers of these courses if they have/know of any projects.
  • This document shows the UU AI supervisors and their general interests.
  • Konjoin always has a number of AI projects.
  • Jobteaser also has interesting external internships for AI students.

Note that any topic has to be agreed with the UU staff member who will act as a first supervisor. Arrange meetings with staff members to discuss possible options, based on their research interests (look at their webpages, their Google Scholar profile, or ask the graduation coordinator Floris Bex). If unsure about possible topics, please arrange a meeting with the graduation coordinator. Students can also try to arrange a project that fits within an internship with a company. Any project, however, requires a first supervisor from the department who guarantees the scientific quality of the thesis project, so it is advisable to talk to potential supervisors and/or the graduation coordinator before agreeing on an internship.

2. Define your project: together with the first supervisor, describe your project's title, problem, aims, and research goals. Come up with a short textual description (about 200 words). Also make clear arrangements with your first supervisor concerning planning, holidays, supervision meetings and so forth. 
Please make sure you have a clear understanding with your first supervisor regarding deadlines and extra work, holidays etc. to be done during the thesis project. Normally, a thesis project runs for 3 periods/terms, but you can set any reasonable deadline in agreement with your supervisor. Please note that this protocol applies when a project is delayed.  

3. Work placement agreement: If you conduct a project outside UU, a "work placement agreement" should be filled in, and signed by the student, company supervisor, and the Science Research Project Coordinator. Deviations to the standard contract shall be discussed with the Science Research Project Coordinator. 

4. Formalize the graduation request: use Osiris student to submit your research project; if applicable, you will also submit the signed work placement agreement. Your request will be checked by the student administration and by the graduation coordinator. You may be asked for modifications, should they find any problems with the form.

The phase comprises 14 EC (i.e. 10 weeks of full-time work) and is intended for you to do a preliminary study (usually in the form of literature study), and to propose and plan your research. Importantly, this phase will give a go/no-go decision towards Phase-2. You are expected to deliver a research proposal consisting of the following:

  • A literature study section, summarizing works that are relevant to your research.
  • Well formulated research question(s).
  • A plan for the second part of the thesis.

Additionally, depending on the nature of the project, your supervisor may require you to perform some initial research work in Phase-1, either in order to provide a convincing argument towards the prospect and feasibility of your Phase-2, or for efficiency to already do some work of Phase-2, e.g. developing an initial theory or building a first prototype of an algorithm. If such work is required, make an agreement with your supervisor on the scope of this work.

At the end of Phase-1 the supervisor(s) will make a go/no-go decision. This decision, in terms of pass or not pass, will be entered in Osiris. Phase-1 assessment criteria:

  • Scientific quality. This concerns the quality of the literature study, the relevance and impact of the research questions, the merit of proposed research method.
  • Writing skills. This concerns the quality of your writing, use of English, textual structure, and coherence/consistency of your text.
  • Planning. This concerns the clarity and feasibility of the proposed planning.
  • The quality of additional work, if such is required.

An example assessment form with more detailed criteria is available. Please use this form only as a discussion piece and do not send in paper or scanned forms. 

The second part comprises 30EC (i.e. 21 weeks full-time). You will complete (at least) the following items:

  • Perform and complete your research according to your plan (Phase 1).
  • Write your thesis that presents your research and its results.
  • Present and defend your results and conclusion. You are asked to prepare a presentation about your research that is understandable by fellow students. The defence will be 45 minutes long; 30 minutes for your presentation, and 15 minutes for questions.

Content of the thesis. In addition to the main text describing the research, the master thesis should at least contain:

  • a front page, containing: name of the student, name of the supervisors, student number, date, name of the program (master Artificial Intelligence, Utrecht University);
  • an abstract;
  • an introduction and a conclusion; 
  • a brief discussion of the relevance of the thesis topic for the field of AI;
  • a list of references.  

Please discuss the exact requirements for your thesis with your daily supervisor/first examiner at the beginning of your project. 

Phase-2 assessment criteria. Your thesis is assessed using the following criteria:

  • Project process (30%). This concerns your ability to work independently, to take initiative, to position your work in a broader context, to adapt to new requirements and developments, and to finish the thesis on time.
  • Project report (30%). This concerns the ability to clearly formulate problems, to summarize the results, to compare them with related scientific work elsewhere, and to suggest future research lines. This also concerns clear, consistent, and unambiguous use of language in the thesis. The text should give the readers confidence in that you understand the chronology, structure, and logical entities in your own text; and thus know what you write.
  • Project results (30%). This concerns the level and importance of the your results. Are the results publishable as a scientific paper? The difficulty of the problem that you solve also plays an important role, as well as the amount/extent of the work you carry out. These are aspects that are important: the effectiveness of the chosen approach, completeness and preciseness of the literature study, arguments for the choices made, insight in the limitations of the chosen approach, proper interpretation of the results achieved, level of abstraction, convincing argument, proofs or statistical analysis.
  • Project presentation (10%). The ability to orally present your project and its results clearly and concisely.

An example assessment form with more detailed criteria is available. Please use this form only as a discussion piece and do not send in paper or scanned forms.

When approaching the finalization of the thesis (i.e, when the supervisors think so), it is time to wrap up the project and graduate.

  1. Set date for graduation presentation: both supervisors should agree on the date, including the time.
  2. Arrange room: send an e-mail to the secretariat ( to arrange for a suitable room for your presentation. Please make sure to include the time, date, name of the thesis, supervisor, and the number of expected attendees.
  3. Deliver printed copies of the thesis to the supervisors: at least one week before the defense; this is compulsory, unless the supervisors explicitly say they do not need the printed copies.
  4. Inform the AI graduation coordinator about the details of your defense (title, abstract, date, time, room). The coordinator will send an announcement to all AI students via the AI mailing list.
  5. Thesis defense: the student gives a presentation of 30 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer session that typically lasts about 15-20 minutes. Your first and second supervisor will decide on your grade and announce this after your presentation.
  6. Publish thesis to "Osiris Scripties"
  7. Graduation ceremony: an official ceremony, held in the Academiegebouw at the Domplein, where the diplomas are handed out. More information about the graduation dates.

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 (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
  • Only for students that have started their research project prior to 1 November 2018 (GMTE), prior to 15 April 2019 (MBIM/AINM) and prior to 17 October 2019 (COSC): your project supervisor will fill out the assessment form part 1 at the end of the first part of your project, and the assessment form part 2 at the end of the second part of your project and hand it in at the Science Student Desk (in pdf) in order to have your grade registered in OSIRIS. (For all other students, the assessment is done in OSIRIS Docent and the paper forms cannot be accepted anymore).