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Instructions for Bachelor's Thesis: Goals and forms

General goals

According to the Act on the Universities of Applied Sciences (L 14.11.2014/932, 4 §), the mission of the universities of applied sciences is to provide higher education based on the requirements of working life and its development as well as on research, art and culture for professional expert tasks and to support the student’s professional growth. Moreover, their mission is to pursue RDI and artistic activities serving the education provided by them, fostering working life and regional development, and renewing regional economic structures. When carrying out their mission, universities of applied sciences shall promote lifelong learning. 

One of the goals of the studies for the Bachelor’s Degree is that those who have earned the Degree have wide practical basic competencies and the theoretical foundations for working in expert assignments in their own field (A 18.12.2014/1129). In the thesis, the student applies competencies achieved through their studies to the requirements of working life. This reflects the student’s ability to perform independent expert tasks in their own educational field. Moreover, the thesis often works as a bridge to working life: many students find a job because of the thesis process.  

The thesis is a significant part of the student’s growth towards expertise. The thesis integrates the student’s professional competencies. The thesis teaches its writer, among other things, problem-solving, project work, a research-focused way of thinking, independent information search, and the presentation of results in writing. Its purpose is to the student’s develop criticalness and ability to solve problems, allowing at the same time for creativity, experimenting, and original applications.

In most cases, theses written at the Universities of Applied Sciences represent applied research and development serving their own operational areas.  Theses strengthen the interaction between the University of Applied Sciences and the economic and working life in the region, reflecting the quality of the working life connections and R & D activities of the University of Applied Sciences.

The thesis at Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences

The Degree Regulations of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences include the following instructions related to the Bachelor’s/Master’s thesis and the Maturity Test:

  • Bachelor’s Degree

The extent of the Bachelor’s thesis is 15 credits. The topic of the Bachelor’s thesis is chosen by the student. The topic is accepted by the teacher or teachers supervising the Bachelor’s thesis, who are also responsible for the evaluation of the Bachelor’s thesis.

  • Master’s Degree

The extent of the Master’s Thesis is 30 credits. The topic of the Master’s thesis is chosen by the student. The topic is accepted by the principal lecturers or the principal lecturer and teacher supervising the Master’s thesis, who are also responsible for the assessment of the Master’s thesis.

  • Specialisation Training

The foundations and arrangement of specialisation training, including the proper Final Project and language proficiency requirements, are agreed on in mutual cooperation between the universities of applied sciences, in accordance with the Statute of the Council of State (1438/2014). On the same occasion, they will possibly agree on the joint principles for thesis work.

Studying at Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences and, consequently, the theses written at the institution are based on close interaction with working life. Through the thesis process, the student builds a developing and innovative, but at the same time analytic and explorative approach to questions in their own professional field. The thesis is an expression of the student’s personal interest in and orientation to their own professional field.   

At Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, the aim is to have as many theses as possible implemented as projects, or in cooperation with or as a commission for a company or organization. A project-form thesis always requires a written agreement between the student, supervisor, and the commissioner (Thesis Agreement, Appendix 1).  

For a student, the thesis is a learning process. A good thesis encompasses the following features:

  • Practical usability
  • Research orientation
  • Close participation of representatives of working life in the process, e.g., as supervisors or evaluators
  • Connection between the supervisor and the representative of the employer
  • Application of theory serving practice
  • Creativity and innovativeness
  • Criticalness and analyticity

Consequently, a good thesis is the sum of several factors. The progress of a thesis from a plan to a finished output and report comprises several steps. The writer of the thesis has to make choices the final effects of which they do not know at the planning stage. The learning process also involves the ability to change, if needed, the choices made and to discuss them with the supervisor of the thesis.  

Different forms of the thesis

At Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, it is possible for students to implement theses in several different ways, which are mutually equal. For instance, a practice-based or project-based thesis is suited to be implemented as a development project, production, or as an exploratory thesis. The aim is to implement all kinds of theses as projects, or in cooperation with or commissioned by a company or organization. 

A development project may be aimed at improving the working methods or other practices of a company or work community, or at planning new ones.  A development project is implemented in cooperation with a company or community, and its outcome may be, for example, a data or quality system with a documentation, a new or more sophisticated working method or computer program. A development project is usually of long duration, for which it is advisable for the student to start implementing it before the actual thesis process, for example, during a traineeship period or a project assignment.  In a thesis, the development project, together with its stages, actions, and outcomes, is reported in so far as it is relevant for the thesis commission.
A production leads to a limited outcome, e.g., the design and development of new products or tools. It is reported both in writing, in accordance with the goals and functions set for the thesis, and as the product itself. The outcome of a production process may be a staff training day, brochure, radio, TV or computer program, work or product, or an exhibition. The documentation of the production must be attached to the thesis.
An exploratory thesis may be related to either of the above-mentioned forms, but it may also be an independent study. The thesis may be implemented as a theoretical treatise, such as the development of an operations model, or as an evaluation study. It is usually based on the student’s own, separately acquired data, which can be analysed quantitatively and/or qualitatively. 
A diary-form thesis is based on a long-time and close contact with working life. Usually, a diary-form thesis is written at the workplace by selecting a subject for observation for a period of several weeks. The observations are written down into a diary-type document allowing answering the pre-set question. The goals of a diary-form thesis also include criticalness, analyticity and the production of new knowledge, assessed with the same criteria as with other types of theses.

Different ways of implementing the thesis can also be combined, because one of the aims of the thesis is to encourage the student’s multiform thinking. Regardless of the form and way of implementing the thesis, it must include a presentation of the theoretical foundations or knowledge base of the thesis and bring out their importance for the choices made in the thesis.    

A thesis does not merely report, e.g., the progress of a development project or production, or a production process, but specific goals, tasks or research questions are set for each complex of phenomena. In the thesis process, data, observations, and other adequate material are collected to help solve, understand, explain and contextualize the goals, tasks, or research problems. The thesis includes an analysis of data collected using research methods (exploratory thesis), the process, data, and/or results/outcomes of a development project (thesis based on a development project), or a process, data and/or results of a production (thesis based on a production). Analysis may also relate to theoretical data based on the literature (literature review), a working method and its development, a guide book, a manual, an event, or a combination of these. A written report encompassing the above-mentioned matters must always be included in the thesis.

The writing of the thesis is agreed on with the teacher supervising the thesis. Depending on the instructions of the Faculty, the thesis is written by the student individually, or as pair, group, or team work. In the case of pair, group or team work, it must be made sure that each student is able to demonstrate both their total control of the process and their individual competencies. A thesis or a related development project or production can also be implemented abroad, e.g., in connection to the student’s practical training or a more extensive research or development project.

It is also possible to write the thesis as an independent project, study, or as part of a more extensive research or development project, which can also be international. In addition to the present Instructions, students become familiar with the Faculties’ own practices on courses related to the thesis process.

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