Bachelor and Master Thesis Guidelines

If you want to write your master or bachelor thesis with one of the DWS professors, please follow the guidelines below.

1. Application

  • To apply for a thesis, contact the chair (see Section Contact Points below) and provide your
  • You can suggest your own topic or write your thesis about a topic that we suggest (which we always have). In the latter case, please let us know your general interests on the Master Candidate Profile form.
  • If you want to write your thesis in cooperation with a company, please send the name and contact details of your contact at the company together with your application. Make sure that the company can provide you with all required resources (e.g., datasets, servers, ...). Before starting your thesis, the company will have to sign a supervision agreement.

2. Contact Points

  • Professor Heiner Stuckenschmidt: Please send your application to Christian Meilicke (Bachelor) and Ines Rehbein (Master). Please also note that possible starting dates at the Chair of Artificial Intelligence (Heiner Stuckenschmidt)  are: 1st March, 1st June, 1st September, 1st Dezember
  • Professor Gemulla: please send your application to Simon Forbat. You can send the proposal anytime.
  • Professors Ponzetto and Glavaš: please send your application to Ines Rehbein. You can send the proposal anytime.
  • All other chairs (Prof. BizerProf. Paulheim): please send your application including the documents mentioned above to the respective professor or research associate working on the topic you are interested in. Theses can be started anytime.

3. Topic Proposal

  • Before you can start your thesis, you need to provide a convincing topic proposal (the so-called exposé).
  • Your thesis proposal should align with the SMART criteria, which see.
  • The proposal must be written using the proposal template and must not exceed 2 pages (excluding references).
  • Do not spend too much space on explaining the preliminaries. Focus on what you want to do.
  • You may (or should) discuss the focus and scope of your thesis with your advisor.
  • Hand in the proposal only if you think it is ready.
  • You may receive revision requests for your proposal. If so, address these requests and hand-in the proposal again.
  • Your proposal should be divided into three subsections: “Introduction”, “Background”, and “Goals and Work Plan”. Make sure to include your name and a preliminary title of your topic into the proposal.
  • Introduction. A short sketch (1 paragraph) of the topic. It may be easier to write this at the very end, when the other parts are finished.
  • Background. A compact description of the relevant concepts as well as a chain of arguments that clearly leads to the “what and why” of the proposal. Your arguments should be scientific; e.g., clearly follow from the discussion so far, or be derived from cited work, or be considered common knowledge. Do not speculate. To write this part well, you already have to attain some understanding of the relevant literature. Introduction and background together should not take more than one page.
  • Goals and Work Plan. This is the largest and most important part of your proposal. It expresses and motivates the tasks, goals, and research questions that you want to address, as well as how you want to proceed to answer these questions. Don't over-do it: You are not expected to come up with intricate solutions already, but rather to demonstrate that you have a clear understanding of the scope of your thesis and the entailed tasks and challenges (e.g., possible approaches, possible outcomes, evaluation, planned time). Also here: stay scientific and reasonable! Make statements such as “I will do . . . to investigate whether X can improve Y” instead of “I will improve Y with X”. Structure this section by the main research questions or tasks, include rough time estimates and milestones, and mark must-have and nice-to-have items as appropriate. As a hint, the very first task or goal usually is that you attain a solid understanding of related work (literature, software tools, . . . ).
  • Note that technical details (formulas, algorithms, long lists of names, etc.) are not part of the proposal. Prefer high-level and intuitive descriptions, and be only as technical as you absolutely need to be. After reading these guidelines, you may feel that writing a proposal is a lot of work, almost like writing a thesis by itself. You are right! By acomplishing this step, you already completed the first milestone of your thesis: Having a clear understanding of what is coming next and what to do in the following next three/six months. You are now ready to start!

4. Registration

  • Once your proposal has been accepted, register your thesis with the secretary of the respective chair right away. At this time, both topic, advisor and starting date (and hence, also the end date) are fixed.

5. Supervision

  • You are responsible to schedule all meetings.
  • Schedule regular meetings with your advisor to discuss your progress.
  • Schedule milestone meetings with the professor/senior advisor around every other month. These meetings should consist of a short presentation with well-prepared slides, as well as meaningful results which show progress.
  • Please send the presentation slides to the professor/senior advisor beforehand.
  • The advisors will generally neither read drafts of your thesis, nor write or review your code.

6. Writing the Report

  • Your report is the main document describing what you did in your thesis, and it is the main input for grading. Your report must be written in English using the provided LATEX template.
  • Start writing early.
  • Keep notes throughout, including detailed parameter settings for all experiments. 
  • Discuss the thesis outline with your advisor.
  • Include an abstract.
  • The target audience for your report are people with a similar background in computer science. Do not repeat basic textbook material.
  • Stay concise and to the point.
  • Avoid low-level details (e.g., long code listings). Make use of an appendix for relevant additional material.
  • It is recommended to read the relevant parts of Writing for Computer Science by Justin Zobel.
  • Use examples and figures throughout.

7. Submitting

  • Hand in two printed copies of your thesis in the secretary's office. In addition, submit a digital copy (PDF) of your thesis via e-mail.
  • Make an appointment upfront.
  • Along with your thesis, submit your source code, data, and instructions for installing and running your code on a CD-ROM, a memory stick, or an online code repository (e.g., GitHub). If your data does not fit on the CD/stick, include a relevant sample of your data. You are advised to discuss the details of code submission with your supervisor.
  • If you need a certificate that you have passed prior to the final grading, inform us at least two weeks before the submission. The earliest possible date for providing such a certificate is two weeks after the submission.

8. Using special Hardware

  • In case your private computer is not capable enougth, there is the posibility, to use powerful hardware remotly.