1. General provisions
1.1 This procedure lays down the principles of supervision, review and defence of bachelor’s and master’s theses for students studying in the study programmes managed by the School of Science.
1.2 A programme director has the right to draw up guidance documents elaborating the procedure and applicable to the study programme led by the programme director.
1.3 Annex 1 to the Procedure provides recommended guidance to a defence committee for assessing the graduation theses of the first and second level students of the School of Science.
2. The rights and obligations of a student or external student (hereinafter referred to also as “a graduating student”) who wants to defend his/her graduation thesis
2.1 A graduating student undertakes to:
2.1.2 select the topic of his/her graduation thesis in accordance with the main field of study in the study programme;
2.1.2 agree upon the topic of the planned graduation thesis with the supervisor of the thesis;
2.1.3 submit an application to the programme director for approval of the supervisor and topic of the thesis prior to starting writing the thesis if the supervisor is from outside the School of Science;
2.1.4 carry out his/her research by adhering to the ethical principles for research laid down in the Principles of Academic Ethics of Tallinn University of Technology;
2.1.5 make sure that a confidentiality agreement is entered into prior to starting writing the thesis if confidential data are obtained or used in writing the thesis or if the institution/enterprise managing the data requires entry into the agreement;
2.1.6 prepare and write the thesis in adherence to the established requirements;
2.1.7 submit the parts of the thesis to the supervisor according to the deadlines agreed with the supervisor;
2.1.8 submit the thesis defence application via the study information system by the deadline established in the academic calendar;
2.1.9 submit to the secretary of the defence committee an application signed by the supervisor to declare the defence closed and/or to impose a restriction on access to the thesis if the graduation thesis contains a state secret, trade secret, information to be kept confidential on the basis of the Personal Data Protection Act, unpublished materials or any other classified information;
2.1.10 submit a digitally signed copy of the thesis in PDF format together with the non-exclusive licence (attached as an annex to the graduation thesis) and an abstract in PDF format to the secretary of the defence committee by the deadline set by the department,
2.1.11 make sure that at the request of the supervisor the underlying data of the thesis are submitted to the supervisor in accordance with the specificities of the thesis and the common practice in the field.
2.2 A graduating student has the right to:
2.2.1 contact the programme director for help in the case of problems related to finding a supervisor and supervision;
2.2.2 dispute the grade of the graduation thesis in compliance with the terms and conditions and pursuant to the procedure laid down in the Academic Policies.
3. Obligations of a programme director
3.1 A programme director undertakes to:
3.1 prepare additional guidance documents related to theses, if necessary, and make sure that the guidance documents are up-to-date and available;
3.1.2 make sure that assistance and advice is provided to students in finding a supervisor to the thesis;
3.1.3 approve the names of the supervisors from outside the School and the topics of the theses;
3.1.4 arrange reviewing of the theses;
3.1.5 make a proposal to the dean for forming defence committees.
4. Supervising a graduation thesis, the rights and obligations of a supervisor
4.1. A graduation thesis may have up to two supervisors, one of whom shall be a member of the university staff. The supervisor of a graduation thesis must comply with the terms and conditions set out in § 26 of the Academic Policies. A graduating student shall find the supervisor of his/her graduation thesis by himself/herself. A graduating student has the right to contact the programme director for advice or for help in the case of problems related to finding a supervisor.
4.2 A supervisor undertakes to:
4.2.1 support and, if necessary, advise a student in choosing a thesis topic and in planning the structure and volume of the thesis;
4.2.2 establish deadlines for the submission of parts of the thesis, if necessary;
4.2.3 read the submitted parts of the thesis, point out the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis during preparation of the thesis and provide feedback to the author for improving the thesis;
4.2.4 assess the eligibility of the thesis and its readiness for submitting it for defence;
4.2.5 approve the student’s defence application by the deadline set out in the academic calendar if the thesis is eligible for defence. The supervisor shall make sure that the title of the graduation thesis and its translation and other data required to submit a defence application in the study information system are factually and linguistically correct.
4.3 A supervisor has the right to:
4.3.1 refuse to allow a graduation thesis to be defended if the thesis is ineligible for defence;
4.3.2 contact the programme director for advice and for solving problems related to supervision.
5. Reviewing a graduation thesis
5.1 Bachelor’s and master’s theses shall be reviewed.
5.2 If necessary, the programme director prepares a guide for preparing the reviews.
5.3 A reviewer shall submit a review in writing to the secretary of the defence committee and the supervisor of the graduation thesis no later than four working days before the defence.
5.4 The secretary of the defence committee shall forward the review to the chairman of the defence committee and the graduating student no later than three working days before the defence.
5.5 If possible, the reviewer participates in the thesis defence. A reviewer has the right to ask additional questions during the defence that are not indicated in the review. If a reviewer does not participate in the defence, the reviewer shall forward these questions to the chairman of the defence committee.
6. Forming a defence committee and admitting a thesis for defence
6.1 Defence committees are formed by a dean’s order based on the study programme or the main field of study in the study programme.
6.2 The programme director has the right to turn to the heads of departments for proposals for appointing members of the defence committees.
6.3 The dean shall appoint the chairman and, if necessary, the vice-chairman of the defence committee by an order. In addition, the secretary of the defence committee shall be appointed.
6.4 The secretary of the defence committee shall forward the students’ applications to declare the defence closed and to impose a restriction on access to the thesis to the dean for approval. If the access restriction is imposed based on a confidentiality agreement, it shall be indicated in the explanatory part of the application along with the period of validity of the confidentiality agreement. The secretary of the defence committee shall forward the applications approved by the dean to the graduating student and the chairman of the defence committee.
6.5 The chairman of the defence committee shall decide whether to allow a thesis to be defended and shall disclose the time and place of the defence and the names of the students admitted to the defence not later than three working days before the defence.
6.6 If a thesis is not admitted for defence, the chairman of the defence committee shall provide the graduating student with a written explanation concerning refusal to admit the graduation thesis for defence and shall immediately inform the secretary of the defence committee and study officer of the dean’s office of his/her decision. The chairman of the defence committee shall inform the dean of a violation of good academic practice.
6.7 The chairman of the defence committee has the right to refuse to admit a thesis for defence if:
6.7.1 the thesis does not comply with the requirements set out for a graduation thesis;
6.7.2 the supervisor is from outside the school and the supervisor and topic of the graduation thesis have not been approved by the programme director;
6.7.3 the protection of the data of natural persons and/or companies covered in the graduation thesis or intellectual property of third parties is not ensured;
6.7.4 the graduation thesis contains plagiarism.
6.8 The chairman of the defence committee may refuse to allow a graduating student to defend his/her thesis if the prerequisites for eligibility of the thesis for defence are not met.
6.9 The secretary of the defence committee shall forward the final defence schedule to the defenders of graduation theses and study officers not later than three working days before the defence. The defence schedule is published on the website of the department conducting the defences.
7. Carrying out a plagiarism check
7.1 The graduation theses submitted for defence shall be checked for plagiarism.
7.2 In the case of a graduation thesis with restricted access, the chairman of the defence committee may make a decision, based on the substantive reason for the restriction, not to upload the thesis in the plagiarism detection system for plagiarism check or to carry out partial plagiarism check via the plagiarism detection system. Corresponding information will also be forwarded to the members of the defence committee. The graduation theses containing a state secret are uploaded to the plagiarism detection system only with the consent of the person arranging personal data and state secret protection at the university.
7.3 The technical work required for plagiarism check shall be carried out by the secretary of the defence committee, who shall forward the result to the chairman of the defence committee. The chairman of the defence committee or persons appointed by him/her shall decide whether the thesis contains plagiarism. If necessary, the plagiarism report is forwarded to the supervisor of the thesis.
8.1 The chairman of the defence committee shall organise the defence of graduation theses. Regular defences shall be completed by the deadline set out in the academic calendar established by the Rector.
8.2 The dean may, at a free-format reasoned request of the graduating student, allow participation at a defence by using a means of real-time two-way video image and sound communication.
8.3 The chairman of the defence committee shall arrange a defence in adherence with the following requirements:
8.3.1 at least three members with a master’s degree, including the chairman of the defence committee, shall be present at the defence of bachelor’s or master’s theses;
8.3.2 as a rule, a graduation thesis shall be defended in the language in which the thesis was written;
8.3.3 at least one member of the defence committee present at the defence must have read the thesis thoroughly;
8.3.4 the defence committee shall assess graduation theses and their defence based on the assessment criteria agreed by the defence committee;
8.4 The main stages of the defence process are:
8.4.1 introduction of the documents submitted for defence;
8.4.2 presentation by the author of the graduation thesis, approximately 10 min. in case of a bachelor’s thesis, approximately 15 min. in case of a master’s thesis;
8.4.3 hearing the review and answering the reviewer’s questions;
8.4.4 answering questions of the members of the defence committee;
8.4.5 a general discussion
8.4.6 hearing the supervisor’s opinion;
8.4.7 making a decision and drawing up a defence record.
8.5 The result of a graduation thesis defence shall be entered in the study information system no later than on the working day following the defence. Any positive grade means that the graduation thesis was defended successfully.
8.6 If a graduation thesis is graded with “0”, the thesis can be defended again pursuant to the terms and conditions determined by the defence committee (the student is required to supplement the existing graduation thesis, submit of a new graduation thesis, etc.). A student shall be exmatriculated due to inadequate academic performance if the student has twice received a negative grade for the defence of the graduation thesis.
8.7 Closed defence
8.7.1 A defence shall take place in public unless the dean decides to declare the defence closed.
8.7.2 A closed defence is conducted with registered participants. All participants in the defence shall sign a declaration confirming that they are aware of the confidentiality of the information provided in the defence and undertake to keep it confidential.
8.7.3 The participation of persons in closed defence shall be restricted if the supervisor or the person arranging personal data and state secret protection has made a corresponding reasoned proposal to the chairman of the defence committee.
8.7.4 Audio, video recording or photographing of the defence is not allowed at a closed defence.
9. Publication and preservation of a graduation thesis
9.1 The secretary of the defence committee shall make sure that all the theses that have received a positive grade or the abstracts thereof are published in compliance with the Rules for Publication and Preservation of Graduation Theses established by the Rector.
9.2 The secretary of the defence committee shall forward the signed applications for imposing a restriction on access to a graduation thesis or declaring a defence closed to the department where the thesis was defended. The applications for restriction on access shall be preserved at the department until the access restriction end date. Applications for a closed defence and the signature sheets of the participants of a closed defence shall be preserved for five years or until the access restriction end date if the closed defence is related to the imposition of a restriction on access to the thesis.
to the Procedure for Supervising, Reviewing and
Defending Graduation Theses at the School of Science
Guidelines for the Assessment of Graduation Theses at the School of Science
The Guidelines for the Assessment of Graduation Theses provide recommended guidance to a defence committee for assessing the graduation theses of the first and second level students of the School of Science.
1. Grading of a graduation thesis
The following aspects are assessed upon grading a graduation thesis:
A) Formatting of the thesis: 10 points.
Points are lowered if:
– there are errors on the title page;
– there are errors in referencing (the referencing style is not uniform; the entries are incomplete or contain errors);
– there are gross spelling errors and typographical errors in formulas;
– the format of the thesis deviates from the requirements for the format of the thesis laid down by the School.
* The grade will not be lowered additionally for typographical and spelling errors in the following sections. However, other grades may be lowered in the case of very serious errors that hinder understanding of the thesis.
B) Introduction and scientific background of the research topic (overview of the relevant literature): 20 points.
Points are lowered if:
– the wording of the problem definition provided in the introduction is ambiguous;
– the importance of the topic has not been explained clearly;
– the overview of the scientific background of the research topic contains significant errors;
– there are significant errors or shortcomings in referencing the (scientific)literature;
– the amount of (scientific)literature reviewed is not sufficient or does not correspond to the topic of the thesis
– the part of the research paper contains a text without correct reference to the original source the points for the section may be lowered to 0 points.
C) Body text of the thesis and final conclusions: 40(60) points.
Points are lowered if:
– the choice of the research methods chosen is unfounded;
– the description and analysis of the observed research methods and the results obtained by applying the methods is not understandable or contains substantive errors, for example, the interpretation of the research results is inadequate (unsubstantiated/insufficiently substantiated conclusions have been made) or the formulation of the interpretation is ambiguous or a significant part of the results have remained uninterpreted or it has become evident (e.g. in the course of the defence) that the author of the thesis has not understood the material;
– the formulation of final conclusions in the summary of the thesis is ambiguous or inadequate or not based directly on the evidence presented in the thesis
* In exceptional cases, if the level of the thesis is significantly higher than the average bachelor’s thesis/master’s thesis level or for other justified reasons it may be awarded up to 20 bonus points.( For example, 20 bonus points are awarded to a thesis, the results of which can be used to write an article classified as a 1.1 article according to the Estonian Research Information System ETIS classification etc)
D) Presentation and answering questions at the defence of the graduation thesis: 30 points.
Points are lowered if:
– the student is unable to present his/her thesis clearly;
– the student is unable to answer questions directly related to the thesis and within the scope of the taught material or concerning the methods applied or results obtained in the study.
2. Committee’s decision, feedback and filing an appeal
The defence committee assesses graduation theses and their defence based on the Guidelines for the Assessment of Graduation Theses or agrees on assessment criteria that differ from the Guidelines. If the assessment criteria of the defence committee differ from or supplement the Guidelines, the defence committee’s agreement shall be concluded in writing and the assessment criteria shall be made available to students and parties involved in the defence no later than two months before the defence.
The committee shall decide on the grade of a thesis at a closed discussion. When deciding on the grade, the committee takes into account the assessments given by the supervisor and the reviewer, which are not binding for the committee.
Following the results of the defence, the student and his/her supervisor(s) have the right to request from the chairman of the committee substantiation for the grade, i.e. reasoning on how the specific parts of the performance were assessed. Since the committee’s discussion is closed, no comments are made on the discussion.
In order to dispute the grade of a thesis, the student has the right to file an appeal to the chairman of the defence committee in compliance with the Academic Policies within three working days from notification of the grade. The chairman of the defence committee shall provide feedback on the student’s performance or respond to the appeal within three working days of the date of asking for feedback or filing the appeal.
3. Table for final grades
90 or more points: “5” – “excellent” – an outstanding and particularly profound graduation thesis, characterised by creativity and consummate proficiency in applying skills and knowledge;
80- 89 points: “4” – “very good” – a very good graduation thesis, characterised by proficiency in applying skills and knowledge in a targeted and creative manner. Some details of knowledge and skills my exhibit errors which are neither substantive nor serious;
70- 79 points: “3” – “good” – a good graduation thesis, characterised by proficiency in applying skills and knowledge in a relevant manner. A certain imprecision and uncertainty are apparent in the depth and detail of knowledge and skills;
60- 69 points: “2” – “satisfactory” – a sufficient graduation thesis, characterised by application of knowledge and skills in a typical manner; in atypical situations both, uncertainty as well as lack of knowledge and skills are apparent.
50- 59 points: “1” – “poor” – a graduation thesis written at the minimum acceptable level, characterised by limited application of knowledge and skills in typical situations; in atypical situations both, considerable uncertainty as well as lack of knowledge and skills are apparent;
49 points or less “0” – “failed” – a graduation thesis below the minimum standard.
The defence committee has the right to assess a thesis with the grade “0” also if:
– in the course of defending the thesis, it becomes evident that the protection of data contained in the thesis is inadequate;
– violation of good academic practice becomes evident after the thesis has been admitted to defence;
– the points in at least one section of the defence of a graduation thesis (1. Grading of a graduation thesis) have been lowered to 0.