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Instructions for Bachelor's Thesis: Thesis process and structure

Studies preparing students for the thesis process

Thesis writing requires the ability to work independently. When writing their thesis, the student has a chance to put their innovativeness to test while formulating and solving a practical problem. Before its start and during it, thesis work is supported by different studies, supervision, and seminars.   

The ground for the writing of the thesis is laid in all the studies prior to the thesis process. The studies supporting the actual thesis process vary from one Faculty to another. Such courses include the fundamentals of scientific research, data acquisition, statistics, research methods, and academic writing. Moreover, some Faculties also provide group work preparing for the thesis process and thesis workshops.

Thesis Process

In most cases, the choice of the topic of the thesis, or at least its subject area, is the student’s own responsibility, for which finding the topic requires independent initiative from the student. At some of the Faculties, teachers bring forward different options and opportunities. A great many of the topics are found through orders or commissions. The thesis may be part of studies (e.g., double degree) for which SeAMK and a foreign partner institution are jointly responsible. In such a case, the co-writer of the thesis may be a student from the foreign partner institution.   

It is advisable to start thinking about the different options for the topic of the thesis as early as the beginning of the studies. Many topics are found during the student’s practical training period. The topic for the thesis may also be found during studies or a traineeship period abroad. The progress of the thesis is usually faster if the topic is interesting and serves the development needs of everyday working life. It is essential to delimit the topic in relation to the available time and other resources. The most rewarding thesis grows out of the student’s own motivation and awareness of their future needs. The supervisor(s) of the thesis decide(s) on the acceptance of the suggested topic or on its reformulation or further elaboration.

When the topic of the thesis has been confirmed, a thesis plan is made for the thesis project, detailing the background and objectives of the thesis, its way of implementation, possible partners, the key sources of information, the utilisation and dissemination of the results, the timetable of the thesis, and other information related to it. The thesis plan is presented to the supervising teacher, who gives their final approval to the plan. 

Planning is an essential part of the thesis process.  A detailed plan helps structure the thesis. It also saves you from wasted time and energy when data acquisition can be directed correctly right from the start. In the thesis, the old saying “well begun is half done” materializes in a concrete way.

If the thesis is written as a commission, an agreement is made between the commissioner, author, and the supervisor. The thesis agreement must specify, among other things, the representative of the commissioner, the tasks included in the thesis process, and the compensation of the costs incurred by the thesis process. The RDI goals and RDI credits of the thesis are also specified in the thesis agreement. On the same occasion, the amount and mode of payment of the possible reward must be agreed on. The student must be in contact with the teacher supervising the thesis before signing an agreement with an outside company. The copyright and confidentiality questions related to commissions are dealt with in more detail in page Practice in the thesis process. Many commissioning organizations may have their own study agreement models, and it is advisable to see them. SeAMK’s model for a thesis agreement is in Thesis agreement (Appendix 1). An electronic, printable Thesis Agreement form is available at SeAMK Intra.


As part of the thesis plan, the student must find out if a research permission is required. The student must submit an application for a research permission if required by the commissioner or target organization or company of the study. A research permission is also required for all studies concerning Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, which is applied for online with an e-form. See Appendix 2 for more specific instructions when applying for the research permission.

The research permission is applied for with a free-form letter, and/or the practices if the organization or company in question are observed. It is advisable to define the consent to the use of the data and the storage of the research data in the research permission. Page Practice in the thesis process treats data management and its planning in more detail. The thesis plan must also specify how the possible participants in the study are asked a permission and how the anonymity of the participants is kept.


Instructions for applying for a research permission

The instructions relate to studies conducted by the students and staff of SeAMK and outside researchers the target group of which are SeAMK students or staff.

  • A permission for studies focused on SeAMK’s staff or students is requested using an electronic research permission application form. The research plan and possible survey, interview and observation forms must be appended to the application form.
  • No permission is not needed for internal quality development surveys or other surveys of the same type.
  • The Research Permission is granted by the Vice President. When granting the Research Permission, the provisions of Section 14 of the Personal Data Act (L 523/1999) are observed.
  • The licenser decides on the practical arrangements of the study, observing the acceptable use policy of the data systems of Seinäjoen Ammattikorkeakoulu Oy.
  • The expenses incurred for the study are borne by the researcher. Depending on the case, they may also be shared by the University of Applied Sciences.
  • The instructions related to the research permission policy for SeAMK students and staff are on the Intranet. For outside researchers, they are presented on the website of SeAMK.
  • SeAMK observes national, field-particular recommendations. If needed, research-ethical problems are dealt with by the Management Group of SeAMK. 

Seminars are aimed at supporting the thesis process. At them, the current phase of the thesis is brought under joint discussion and for comments. The seminar practice varies by Faculty. Many of the Faculties arrange particular seminars for the presentation of the thesis plan. At these seminars, the plan for the thesis is discussed and modifications to it are proposed. At the same time, seminars prepare the student for the final seminar of the thesis process. At some of the Faculties, the thesis plan is directly submitted to the supervisor, without a seminar. Courses in project work are also used into initiate students to the thesis process.

At a seminar, the student(s) give(s) a prepared presentation of their thesis project. At some of the Faculties, seminar work is also accompanied by peer assessment and peer support. Peer assessment involves critical and analytic observation of the thesis. The peer assessor is usually a student of the same year. They can also act as president of the session. Moreover, the peer assessor often writes a written assessment of the thesis and submits it to the supervisor of the thesis. If peer assessment is part of the thesis process, it has effects on the grade for the thesis.

  • The thesis and the entire related process are presented at the thesis seminar.
  • The goals, methods and results of the thesis are gone through on that occasion.
  • The thesis is not graded until after the presentation.
  • After the seminar, students are usually required to make changes to the written report.
  • The supervisor can give their permission to the submission of the final version of the thesis only after those changes have been made.

A good plan also contributes to the successful acquisition of background information necessary for the thesis. The acquisition plan for background information includes, among other things, figuring out the keywords describing the topic of the thesis and the choice of appropriate sources of information. Data acquisition is taught on specific courses and on other courses related to the thesis process.

The Library of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences has a wide collection of material needed for writing a thesis, in both printed and online formats.

  • The SeAMK-Finna search service of the Library is an appropriate starting point for data acquisition. In addition to the Library’s own database, SeAMK-Finna provides access to other databases and content.
  • The online services of the Library (E-Library) provide access to even more databases, e-books and e-magazines, as well as special material. The online services are available through the network of SeAMK and, through the remote access service, also outside the network, e.g., by a home computer.
  • You can learn about the opportunities of data acquisition on related courses, independently through the website of the Library, and asking the Library staff for advice.
  • The website of the Library also includes field-specific data acquisition guides and the guide How to find information: Info for thesis writer. The guide includes instructions for data acquisition, writing, as well as information about copyright matters.  

It is advisable to reserve a sufficient amount of time for the actual writing or polishing of the thesis. SeAMK’s Instructions for Written Work provide general instructions on writing and instructions related to the layout of the text as well as to writing in-text citations and bibliographic references.

Example of the possible structure of a thesis report

Example of the possible structure of a thesis report

Structure of the thesis

It is not possible to present detailed instructions for the structure of the text chapters of the thesis because theses are different in type, e.g., project-like or exploratory theses. However, all kinds of theses always have a framework consisting of an introduction, the processing of the matter, as well as the conclusions and/or a discussion. These sections are structured into chapters and subchapters in an appropriate way and headed as illustratively as possible.


In the reporting of the thesis, the Instructions for Written Work of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences are observed.

The thesis shall include a title page, abstracts in Finnish and English, a table of contents, a list of the terms and abbreviations used (if there are many of them),  a list of the figures, pictures and tables (in case the thesis includes many figures, pictures, or tables), an introduction, a presentation of related previous research and development knowledge and possible theoretical knowledge, problem setting (presentation of the goals and research problems or development tasks of the thesis), a presentation of the methods used in the thesis and the reasons for their use, the processing of the results, the conclusions, a discussion, the sources, and possible appendices.

Of the above-mentioned sections, introduction, background/theory, problem setting, methods, results, conclusions and discussion may also appear in a different order, or be combined. An example of combining would be writing about the background information and the results in such a way that previous knowledge is compared to the results obtained in the thesis. In this guide you can find a rough presentation of what the different stages of the report include. For further information about solutions related to reporting and writing, refer to the literature on the conducting of research.

The introduction describes the background and subject matter of the thesis. The aim is to offer the reader the basic elements of the content of the thesis and to evoke the reader’s interest in it. 

  • The introduction should be quite brief and concise.
  • It is advisable to write it in its final form towards the final stage of the thesis process, after the big picture of the project has become clear.
  • The introductory chapter is the first main chapter of the thesis that is numbered. The chapter is often headed ‘Introduction’, but some more illustrative heading may also be used.
  • The aim and objectives of the thesis are briefly presented in the introduction, even though they will come out in more detail as the text proceeds.

The section treating the background and theory of the thesis presents and analyses previous research and development knowledge and existing research knowledge related to the topic. In it, reasons are given for the topic of the thesis by dealing with the key literature on the professional field, previous studies, analyses, and reports.

The treatment of the background of the thesis shows how familiar the author is with the subject area of the thesis and how well they master its concepts.  The focus is on the author’s ability to demonstrate why just their thesis is useful, topical, and justified. The presentation of previous knowledge and research must not be a mere collection of summaries, but it should be approached in an analytical, comparative, and evaluative manner. Consequently, the information in the source literature shall be considered from the perspective of the author’s own thesis and goal or problem setting.

The analysis of previous research and knowledge provides the basis for the more detailed formulation of the problems of the thesis, concept definition, setting of the goals, methodological choices, and, subsequently, a basis for comparison for the results and making conclusions. The reader shall get a clear idea of how the thesis related to previous research or development projects, projects, productions, and what new things the present thesis aims to create.

The problem setting of the thesis shall be formulated clearly and accurately. In problem setting, the aims of the thesis are expressed, as well as the development tasks or research problems set for reaching them.

The section on methods presents the target and data of the thesis, as well as the data collection and analysis methods used, together with a justification of their use.

All theses have some data collection method, and the phenomenon under study is analysed based on the data collected using that method. In exploratory theses, productions and development projects, some delimited topic, phenomenon or process is set as the target of observation, and the thesis focuses on its analysis or development. Data collection methods may be qualitative or quantitative, or a combination of both. Think carefully what data collection method is suitable for the research question or target for development of the thesis. To find a suitable method, the student needs to do some careful research and become familiar with methodological literature.

After data collection, the data collected must be analysed in some systematic way. Then, we talk about methods of analysis. The methods of analysis of qualitative and quantitative data differ from each other, and you should carefully acquaint yourself with them before the collected data can be turned into results.

To assess the representativeness and reliability of the thesis, the methods and the progress of the process must be reported in such a detail that the data collection and analysis could basically be repeated in the same way.

The results of the thesis are presented by research or development task or as otherwise clearly grouped themes. All the research or development tasks set for the thesis must be dealt with, irrespective of whether or not answers for found to them. When reporting the results, it is advisable to start from and highlight the main results. Also negative results and unrealized hypotheses must be presented.

In this section, no interpretations are made as to the reason for some result or what it can imply, unless the results and conclusions sections are combined. The key results can be illustrated to a suitable extent with tables, figures and direct quotes from the data. The content of the tables, figures and direct quotes must also be discussed in the text. It is easier for the reader if the key results are summarized in the end, which can also be done in the form of a table or figure.

The results section can be combined with a presentation of the background of the thesis. It is also common to combine the results and conclusions sections.

In the conclusions

  • the results are considered in relation to previous knowledge, and interpretations are made.
  • it is sometimes possible to present a suggestion, model or process motivated by the results. For example, in an evaluative study, opinions can be expressed about how the activity assessed should be developed based on the results. When considering a production, the conclusions may relate to the further processing of the production. The conclusions of a development project may relate to, for instance, the improvement or development of the functionality of the development method under study and the importance of the thesis from the point of view of professional usability.
  • show the reader what the concrete outcome of the thesis is.
  • section may be combined either with the results or the discussion section.

In the discussion

  • the author shows how well they master the phenomenon under study and how well they are able to assess their work process.
  • section includes a critical and honest analysis of how well the goals set were achieved.
  • The application and practical usability of the results is assessed – for example, how possible it is to meet the suggested targets for improvement.
  • the thesis process and the factors that influenced the achievement of the results are considered critically. One should evaluate, for instance, what possible constraints there were on the methods and data used and how they possibly influenced the results.
  • It is also advisable to bring up topics for further studies or development the thesis gives rise to.

The sources are presented in the form of an alphabetical list after the text section. The appendices are placed at the end of the thesis. For the instructions on making a bibliography and including appendices, see the Instructions for Written Work of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences.

 

Example of a Bibliography.

Accessibility Statement