The Procedure and the Requirements for Writing Graduation Theses in the School of Science

APPROVED by order No 1-24/38 of 21.02.2024 of the Dean of the School of Science

Title page and declaration.doc

Non-exclusive licence.doc

This Procedure (hereinafter referred to as “the Procedure”) outlines the process for writing bachelor’s and master’s theses and establishes the requirements for the theses at the School of Science and complements the Procedure for Supervising, Reviewing and Defending Graduation Theses at the School of Science. The programme directors of the School of Science have the right, based on the specificity of the discipline, to establish guidelines for writing graduation thesis that complement the Procedure, provided these guidelines comply with the university’s legislation on graduation theses, adhere to good practice, and are made available to students on the website of the School of Science.

The Procedure can be used for writing other student papers by excluding the sections required only for graduation theses (author’s declaration, abstract, non-exclusive licence). The formatting guidelines outlined in the Procedure are based on MS Word, but other suitable word processing programs (e.g. LibreOffice/OpenOffice, LaTeX) may be used, as long as the style and structure of the thesis outlined in the Procedure are retained.

Graduation theses must be in PDF format and digitally signed by the author and principal supervisor and shall be submitted along with a non-exclusive licence (appended as an annex to the thesis) and an abstract in PDF format by the deadline, following the procedure established by the Department. The file name must include the student’s first and last name.

1. Ethical principles

The ethical principles for research are laid down in the university’s Code of Academic Ethics. One of the key principles is that anyone who creates new values must respect others’ creation, be it created in written, digital, oral or any other form, and provide proper references to it. Refraining from academic fraud is an essential requirement in research and studies. If a graduation thesis concerns persons or companies, the author of the graduation thesis shall make sure that their interests are protected in accordance with legislation.
Where AI has been used in the preparation of a research paper, AI must be referenced as a method. Artificial intelligence is not an appropriate source; therefore, students must cite actual original sources to substantiate their statements in their thesis with evidence.

2. Thesis topic

The topic of a graduation thesis must correspond to the content of the study programme and shall, as a rule, be related to the speciality.

3. General requirements for and structure of graduation theses

3.1 Language of a graduation thesis

A graduation thesis shall be written in the language of instruction of the study programme; a thesis written in Estonian shall include a summary in English. In a study programme taught in Estonian, a graduation thesis may also be prepared in English by agreement between the student and the supervisor. A thesis written in English shall include a summary in Estonian.

3.2 Volume of a thesis

As a rule, a bachelor’s thesis shall be 20-30 pages long (approximately 50-70 thousand characters) and a master’s thesis shall be 30-50 pages long (approximately 75-100 thousand characters), annexes not included.

3.3 Structure of a thesis

A thesis consists of the following:
– the title page;
– translation of the title page into the language of instruction if the thesis is not written in the language of instruction;
– the author’s declaration and supervisor’s resolution;
– the table of contents;
– the glossary of abbreviations and terms (if applicable);
– an introduction;
– the body text of the thesis divided into chapters;
– acknowledgements (in this part, the contribution of other persons to the thesis must be pointed out);
– references;
– a summary and an abstract.
– appendices (incl. the non-exclusive licence).

3.3.1 Title page

The following shall be indicated on the title page: the title of the thesis; the type of the thesis; the name and student code of the author; the name and position of the supervisor (co-supervisor); the name of the study programme; the year of the thesis defence. The 5.5 cm high logo of the TalTech School of Science shall be displayed in the top left corner of the title page. The translation of the title page must be presented directly after the title page.

3.3.2 Author’s declaration and supervisor’s resolution
The author’s declaration is mandatory part of a graduation thesis that comes after the title page and consists of the following text: “I hereby declare that I have written this thesis independently and the thesis has not previously been submitted for defence. All works and major viewpoints of the other authors, data from sources of literature and elsewhere used for writing this paper have been properly cited.” The supervisor’s resolution consists of the following text: “The thesis complies with the requirements for bachelor’s/master’s theses.“

3.3.3 Table of contents

The table of contents of a thesis includes headings of the subdivisions with page numbers, incl. the introduction, summary and references. The table of contents must include all appendices with headings.

3.3.4 Glossary of abbreviations and terms
Abbreviations and terms must be listed in alphabetical order. The glossary of abbreviations and terms includes new, as well as well-known terms having multiple meanings that are used in the body text. The meaning of an abbreviation must be explained in the body text on its first use, regardless of whether the abbreviation is included in the list. The glossary of abbreviations is mandatory in the field of gene technology.

3.3.5 Introduction

An introduction shall outline the problem (1-2 page(s)) and the reasons for selecting the topic. The topicality and novelty of the topic must be pointed out. The specific research objective shall be outlined in a separate paragraph at the end of the introduction.

3.3.6 Body text of the thesis divided into chapters

The structure depends on the topic and nature of the thesis. The body text shall include:
– Overview of the literature. In the overview of the literature, the chapters and their parts must be substantially and logically interlinked and form a whole.
– Methodology. In this section, the methodology and the materials used for the thesis are described. In the case of experiments, the necessary information for others to replicate the experiments is provided When employing artificial intelligence, it is necessary to explain how it was used and refer to the use of the AI chatbot. This section may also be placed at the end of the thesis, before the list of references, if it is common practice in the discipline
– Results. In this section you report the findings in tables and graphs, accompanied by their respective descriptions.
– Discussion. This section discusses the results within a broader context, includes comparisons with previous data, etc. With the supervisor’s approval, sections of the results and discussion may be combined.
– Conclusions. This section is optional and presents the main conclusions of the thesis concretely and concisely.
The body text of a thesis must be divided into logically connected parts: chapters, subchapters, sections, and subsections.

3.3.7 Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements to supervisors, contributors, financiers, etc. Acknowledgements shall be presented at the end of the text before the list of references as a separate subparagraph. In this part, contribution of all other persons to the thesis (incl. proofreading, if any) must be pointed out.

3.3.8 References
The references chapter shall list references to the publications (books, articles and other sources) used in writing the thesis. All the listed materials must be cited in other parts of the thesis. References shall comply with the requirements approved in professional literature. The referencing requirements of each discipline are based on the traditions and specificity of the discipline.

3.3.9 Summary and abstract

A thesis must have an abstract or summary in both Estonian and English. An abstract provides the reader an overview of the objectives of the thesis, the key issues discussed and the most important findings and conclusions. An abstract is a brief introduction, which provides no explanations or arguments but reflects adequately the content of the thesis. An abstract must be half to one A4 page long. An abstract must not contain statements not discussed in the body text. Abstracts in different languages shall be written on separate pages. The version in the language of the thesis should come first.

3.3.10 Appendices

Appendices may include tables, figures, articles, etc. that are connected with and supplement the body text and they shall be appended at the end of the thesis. A non-exclusive licence is a mandatory appendix to the thesis.

4. Format and formatting requirements for graduation theses

A thesis shall be written in A4 format. The left margin (text-free edge) shall be 30 mm and the bottom, top and right margins must be 25 mm. The text of the thesis shall be arranged in a single column. A graduation thesis shall be aligned on both sides (justify) with the spacing 11 pt after paragraphs. No indentation should be used. The text font of a graduation thesis shall be Calibri (or a similar sans serif type font) 11 pt, i.e. upright font with 1.15 -1.25 line spacing. The font size of footnotes must be 9 pt. Foreign terms and phrases shall be italicized.

Headings and subheadings shall be aligned left. Headings 16pt and subheadings 14pt, lowercase letters in bold. First-level headings shall start on a new page. A lower level division shall be continued from the page where the previous subdivision ends. No abbreviations are used in headings and there is no full stop at the end of headings. Where the heading consists of several sentences, every sentence ends with a full stop, except the last sentence. No hyphenation is used in headings.

Page numbers have to be centered at the bottom of the page. All the pages of the thesis shall be numbered consecutively throughout the thesis, excluding the title page (its translation) and the following page with the author’s declaration and supervisor’s resolution. Footnotes shall be separated from the body text by a line. Tables and figures shall be referenced in the text and numbered consecutively throughout the whole thesis. Tables shall be titled, and figures shall be supplied with a caption. Appendices shall be presented at the end of a written paper. Appendices start with the first-level heading “Appendices”, which may be placed on the same page with the first appendix. Each appendix must be started on a new page. Appendices shall be numbered in the order they are cited and supplied with second-level headings.