Guidelines for master’s thesis at the Faculty of Engineering and Science

These guidelines apply to students starting work on their master’s thesis from spring 2021 onward.

This guide provides supplementary guidelines for the master's thesis at the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences (FIN), cf. Section 11-18 (3) Regulations relating to studies and examinations at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL).

The guide applies to the master's degree programmes that the university college administers. In collaboration with other universities and university colleges, the guidelines apply to the master's thesis at the university college that awards the degree.

The guideline applies to students starting work on their master’s thesis from spring 2021 onward.

Aim of the master’s thesis

Through the master's thesis, the student must complete a limited research project within their own field of study and course for the relevant master's programme.

The master’s thesis is an independent scientific work, in which the student illustrates their insight into applicable research, theories and methodologies relevant to the problem of the thesis. The work on the master’s thesis shall qualify the student to perform research and development work. The thesis must reflect the learning outcome, as described in the course plan.

The master's thesis can be an individual or a joint project between two students, unless otherwise specified in the course plan.


All master's students must enter into a guidance agreement, cf. Section 11-18 (1) of the Regulations relating to studies and examinations at HVL.

Appointment of supervisor

The supervisor is assigned based on the subject of the thesis.

The main supervisor must be from HVL and must, as a general rule, be employed at the department/centre.  The student may also have external supervisors. If a student has multiple supervisors, the supervision agreement must indicate who the main supervisor is. The supervision shall cover the academic, scientific and practical aspects of completing the master’s thesis.

The supervision appointment will be formalised in a supervision agreement that the student completes and sends to the supervisor as soon as possible after the master’s thesis is expected to start. The agreement shall be signed after the subject and methodology of the master’s thesis have been chosen. The student, supervisor and any co-supervisors shall sign the agreement.

Framework for supervision

The student must have follow-up from and meetings with the supervisor(s) through the work on the master's thesis.

In addition to supervision meetings with the student, the supervision on the part of the supervisor involves:

  • Follow-up of the student (preparing supervision meetings, reading drafts and the like)
  • Administrative follow-up
  • Any follow-up of lab experiments, field work and the like
  • Any academic updating

Supervision is a joint responsibility, and the master’s student must play an active role:

  • The student has a duty to contact their supervisor and schedule appointments for supervision.
  • The student must be responsible for the format and content of the thesis.
  • The student must send the supervisor a basis for supervision with specific questions at the agreed time before the supervision meeting.

The supervisor shall not be a co-author of the master’s thesis. The master’s thesis is the student’s own work.


The master's thesis must be written in Norwegian or English. Other Scandinavian languages may be used, subject to agreement with the supervisor, unless otherwise stated in the course plan. In the case of English-language master's programmes, the thesis must be written in English, unless otherwise stated in the course plan.

Theses that are written in Norwegian or other Scandinavian languages must have a summary in English or another relevant foreign language. Theses that are written in English must have a short summary in Norwegian/Scandinavian, cf. Section 11-21 (2) of the Regulations relating to studies and examinations at HVL.

The requirement for summaries in Norwegian/Scandinavian does not apply to English-language master's programmes.

Structure and formal requirements


The structure and scope of the thesis shall be discussed with the supervisor, and will depend on the nature of the thesis.

The subject area has prepared templates for the master's thesis, which you can find in Canvas.

Formal requirements

The master's thesis must contain the following points:

  • HVL’s front page with title of the master’s thesis, programme/academic section, candidate number, and date of submission. Front page templates can be found on the website for home exams and thesis writing and in templates for master's theses at FIN
  • A summary/abstract of the thesis
  • Table of contents with chapter headings and page numbers
  • Figures and tables must be positioned and referenced in the body of the text, be numbered and have explanatory titles. Any overview of figures and tables must be placed after the table of contents
  • List of references
  • Appendices must be numbered and listed in the table of contents. Appendices of more than one page must have page numbers

Source reference:

  • Quotations and the reference list follow the reference style used within the relevant field of study (for example IEEE, APA, Harvard or Vancouver), see the website «Søk & skriv» (Search & write) (no) for guidance in using the style.
  • Direct quotations must be indicated with quotation marks. Quotes that are longer than three lines must be written in a separate paragraph with indentation. Quotation marks are not used here. See the individual reference styles.
  • When using indirect quotations (paraphrasing), words and their order are changed and written in one’s own words without altering the content of the original text.
  • Page numbers shall be stated both for direct quotations and indirect quotations where there is a reference to a limited portion of a major source.
  • As a general rule, the use of secondary references should be avoided. If, exceptionally, you refer to a source that you have not read yourself, this must be made clear in the quotation and bibliography; see example of secondary reference in «Søk & skriv» (Search & write) (no).

Research ethics

The student has an independent responsibility for ensuring that the work on the master's thesis complies with research ethics norms, rules and guidelines that apply to the project and the subject area.

All projects that use personal data must be assessed in advance by the Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD). See Start-up of student projects under the Personal Data Act

The supervisor is responsible for approving the project plan and ensuring that the research ethics obligations are met.

For more details, see HVL’s guidelines on research ethics and data archiving for master’s theses.


Theses must be submitted in Wiseflow.

The title of the thesis will be written on the diploma, and the student is responsible for registering the title in StudentWeb upon submission.

To have their work published on HVL Open, the student may tick the publication option when submitting the thesis in Wiseflow. See more about publication under section 8 Publication.

Submission deadline

The submission deadline must be announced on Canvas before the registration deadline (1 September/1 February).

Examination and grading

From Chapter 13 Grading and appeals in the Regulations relating to studies and examinations at HVL:

  • For grading of master's theses, two examiners shall be appointed and at least one of these shall be an external examiner.
  • An examiner may not have been the supervisor for the thesis.
  • As a minimum, the external examiner must have a master's degree in the relevant subject area.
  • The deadline for announcement of grades for master's theses is up to six weeks.

The external/internal supervisor can take part in the exam and be available for questions from the examiner, but must leave when the grade is determined.

For more information on assessment methods for the master's thesis, see the course plan.

For failed master’s thesis

From Section 11-19 Revised versions of the bachelor's thesis, master's thesis and other assignments in the Regulations relating to studies and examinations at HVL:

  • If a grade of F (fail) is received, the student may submit an improved version for grading during the next semester.
  • It is permitted to submit an improved version only one time.
  • Supervision for the student may be limited for the submission of a second attempt at a master's thesis.


Theses that have received a passing grade may be published on HVL Open. The student decides whether the thesis shall be published or not, unless otherwise agreed with any project owner (restrictions on access).

You can find more information about terms and conditions for publication on HVL’s website on Publication of theses and Terms and conditions of publication on HVL Open.

Intellectual property rights

The student has the intellectual property rights to their master’s thesis. The supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the agreement on ownership of data has been discussed and agreed before work on the master’s thesis starts. This also includes collaboration on data after the master’s thesis has been submitted. If a party other than the student owns the data for the master’s thesis, different rules apply.

Approved by Dean 16.12.2020