1. General provisions
1.1 This procedure defines the principles for supervising, reviewing, and defending professional higher education, Bachelor’s and Master’s theses, also the rights and obligations of a programme director, a supervisor and a student regarding the completion of studies.
1.2 This procedure is based on and should be read in conjunction with the Academic Policies and Procedure for Publication and Preservation of Graduation Thesis.
2. Rights and obligations of a programme director
2.1 A programme director has the right to:
2.1.1 set interim activities and deadlines for managing the process of writing the theses;
2.1.2 decide on the need to submit a thesis task specification/project, including the requirements and submission procedures;
2.1.3 decide on the use of pre-defence in the study programme, including the requirements for the work to be pre-defended, the terms and the deadlines of pre-defence;
2.1.4 decide on the need to review and provide the supervisor’s written opinion for the professional higher education and Bachelor’s theses.
2.2 A programme director has the obligation to:
2.2.1 provide students with up-to-date information on exemplary thesis topics and possible supervisors;
2.2.2 advise a student in case of problems with the supervision and finding a supervisor for the thesis;
2.2.3 ensure, in cooperation with the chairman of the defence committee, that plagiarism checks are carried out on all theses defended in the curriculum;
2.2.4 ensure that the requirements, terms and deadlines of the curriculum are made available to students on the curriculum website or by other appropriate means.
3. Rights and obligations of a student
3.1 A student has the right to:
3.1.1 turn to the programme director or assistant to the programme director for help in finding a supervisor or solving problems related to supervision;
3.1.2 turn to the potential thesis supervisor for guidance in defining the thesis topic;
3.1.3 turn to the supervisor for feedback and recommendations during writing of the thesis;
3.1.4 see the thesis review before the defence.
3.2 A student has the obligation to:
3.2.1 obtain an approval from the supervisor for the planned thesis topic;
3.2.2 prepare and submit a thesis task specification/project according to the requirements and procedures established in the curriculum if submission of the thesis task specification/project is required in the curriculum;
3.2.3 submit an application for establishing restriction on access to the thesis and/or for a closed defence if the thesis contains a state secret, trade secret, information to be kept confidential based on the Personal Data Protection Act, or any other classified information;
3.2.4 report on the process of writing the thesis and submit parts of the thesis for reading according to the deadlines established in the curriculum or agreed with the supervisor;
3.2.5 follow the requirements established in the School of Information Technologies and the curriculum when preparing and formatting the thesis;
3.2.6 submit the thesis for pre-defence in accordance with the deadlines and conditions established in the curriculum if such pre-defence is required in the curriculum;
3.2.7 submit the defence application in the study information system (ÕIS) by the deadline established in the academic calendar;
3.2.8 submit a completed thesis, including the non-exclusive licence by the deadline specified in the curriculum. If access to the thesis is restricted, the student shall submit, in addition to the thesis, also a summary of the graduation thesis.
4. Supervision of a thesis
4.1 A supervisor has the obligation to:
4.1.1 provide feedback and recommendations on the thesis task specification/project, including the aim of the planned thesis, its structure, theoretical framework and methodology;
4.1.2 read the completed text or parts of it, point out the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis being prepared;evaluate compliance of the thesis with the requirements set by the School for formatting and referencing;
4.1.3 evaluate the suitability and readiness of the thesis for submission to defence;
4.1.4 check the supervised theses for plagiarism and review plagiarism detection system report(s) if required in the curriculum;
4.1.5 provide a written opinion if required in the curriculum.
4.2 If a student fails to meet the deadlines agreed upon with the supervisor or for writing the thesis, the supervisor has the right to refuse further supervision of the student by giving written notice to both the student and the programme director.
5. Reviewing a thesis
5.1 The programme director shall decide on the need to review the theses of professional higher education and Bachelor’s studies. Master’s theses are subject to reviewing.
5.2 The reviewers shall be appointed by the programme director or a person appointed by the programme director in cooperation with the members of the (pre)defence committee and/or the thesis supervisor.
5.3 The reviewers of professional higher education and Bachelor’s theses must have completed at least higher education, the reviewers of Master’s theses must have at least a Master’s degree or an equivalent qualification.
5.4 A review may be based on the review form (see Annex A);
5.5 A reviewer:
5.5.1 forwards the written review to the secretary of the defence committee in due time or uploads it to the appropriate administrative environment. The secretary of the defence committee or an appointed person shall forward the review to the student;
5.5.2 participates at the thesis defence, if possible.
6. Defence of a thesis
6.1 As a rule, the defence committees are formed with the Dean’s order in September of each academic year for the whole academic year.
6.2 In the spring semester, the final deadline for submission of theses is usually the third week in May, however the programme director has the right to set an earlier deadline for submitting the theses. For the autumn semester, the programme director sets the final deadline for submitting the theses.
6.3 The defence of the theses shall be organized by the chairman of the defence committee in co-operation with the programme director and the secretary of the defence committee, whose functions are generally performed by the assistant to the programme director.
6.4 The requirements, conditions, terms and deadlines of the public meetings of the defence related to the curriculum shall be made known to the students on the curriculum website and/or by other appropriate means.
6.5 As a rule, the defences of the theses take place in public meetings, a closed defence is only permitted in justified exceptional cases. The decision for a closed defence and/or a restriction on access to the thesis shall be made by the dean based on a student’sduly justified request:
6.5.1 an application for a restriction on access to the thesis (including closed defence) shall be submitted together with the thesis task specification/project or when the need for such restriction becomes clear;
6.5.2 an application shall be drafted in a free format and shall include the following: an explanation from the institution/company of the need for the restriction (preferably a formal letter), the term of restriction on access and permission to publish a summary of the thesis in the digital collection of the library. An application may consist of several documents.
6.5.3 an application must be signed by all parties involved, i.e. the author, the supervisor of the thesis and the representative of the institution/company;
6.5.4 the student shall forward the signed application to the assistant to the programme director, who will obtain approval of the programme director and then forward it to the dean. The assistant to the programme director shall notify the parties of the final decision.
6.6 In exceptional circumstances, a student may request to participate in a defence by means of a two-way live image and sound communication device (Skype, video conference, etc.). A free-form application, approved by the supervisor, is submitted to the assistant of the programme director together with the application for defence. The assistant to the programme director forwards the application to the chairman of the defence committee and then to the dean for approval. The assistant to the programme director shall notify the parties of the final decision.
6.7 A thesis defence may be webcast. The graduate will be informed in advance of the live broadcast.
6.8 All theses submitted for defence shall be subject to plagiarism check.
6.9 If a graduate is not allowed to defend the thesis either because of non-compliance of the thesis or due to plagiarism, the chairman of the defence committee will communicate the decision to the student through the programme director’s assistant.
6.10 No later than three working days prior to the defence, the assistant to the programme director or an appointed person shall inform the students of the final defence schedule.
6.11 The order of defence shall be decided by the chairman of the defence committee on the basis of the following principles:
6.11.1 the defence committee has a quorum if at least three members of the defence committee are present;
6.11.2 as a rule, the language of the defence is the language in which the thesis is written;
6.11.3 the documents submitted for defence shall be introduced;
6.11.4 a thesis defence begins with the presentation of the graduation thesis by the author;
6.11.5 The defence speech will, as a rule, be followed by the presentation of the review and answering the questions of the reviewer and/or the defence committee and attendees;
6.11.6 the supervisor’s opinion, if required in the curriculum, is presented before or after the discussion;
6.11.7 the defence may be completed by theclosing remarks of the student, in which he or she can thank the people who contributed to the completion of the work and the participants in the defence discussion.
6.12 Theses and the defence thereof shall be assessed on the basis of the grading system of the university and the evaluation criteria established in the curriculum.
6.13 The result of a thesis defence shall be entered in ÕIS no later than on the working day following the defence.
6.14 If a thesis is defended and 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 a new graduation thesis, etc.).
6.15 An assistant to the programme director shall ensure that all the defended theses or their abstracts are added on time to the digital collection of the TalTech Library for electronic storage.