In order to obtain a Masters degree, you have to perform a final project that takes you 6 months of your study. The trajectory that leads to a successful final project is complex, comprising many activities and responsibilities that you have to cope with together with your supervisors.
A lot of experience with the guidance of Master candidates is available at the University of Twente. This guide consolidates this experience, in terms of guidelines and tips that can be useful during the trajectory of a final project. The objectives of this guide are twofold:
- Give a road map for candidates that are performing a final project, and
- Provide helpful practical tips that apply to the different activities of a final project.
This guide identifies the typical activities of a final project. Each of these activities has specific objectives and milestones. Together they form a road map that you can use to monitor your progress in the final project. For each activity, this guide gives practical tips and links to more information on how to reach the desired milestones.
In the “Teaching and Examinations Regulations” (TER) and the “Teaching and Assessment Regulations” (RET) you find the formal regulations and procedures concerning the MSc programmes, and, in particular, the final project. This guide gives informal guidelines and tips for performing the final project. Therefore, these two documents differ in status and purpose. While the formal regulations documents have a formal status, defining rights and responsibilities, no rights can be derived from this guide. However, these documents complement each other, in that in case of conflicts or problems the formalregulations determine what should be done, while this guide is meant to help you during the final project.
Activities of a final project
In order to monitor your own progress you need an overview of the final project, which serves as a kind of road map. We have formulated an overview of a typical final project based on our experience. In this overview we have identified the following activities:
- Exploration*: This activity is performed before the official start of the project, and results in a decision to accept a specific final project;
- Formalisation*: This activity results in project plan and a supervisors committee, which are the formal requirements for officially starting a final project;
- Preparation: In this activity the most important background information for the project is studied and the project plan is refined;
- Development: In this activity the bulk of the development work is performed;
- Reporting: This activity results in a Master thesis;
- Presentation preparation: This activity results in the delivery of the final presentation.
*) Before being allowed to start with the final project, you will have to carry out the so-called “Research Topics”. This module of 10 credits was introduced to provide you with a solid base to smoothly start out with the final project. Though the “research topics” is judged independently it has the purpose to support the activities of Exploration and Formalisation.
Depiction of the activities identified above, their possible relationships in time, and the products that have to be delivered as a result of these activities. Figure 1 also indicates the main roles of the supervisors in the final project. Your programme mentor will be your first guide for leading you to a “research topic”, best time to approach your programme mentor will be the point in your study where you have reached some 60 credits.
You are expected to carry out your final project independently, and the supervisor should stimulate you in your work. However, with ‘carry out your final project independently’ we certainly do not mean that you should avoid approaching your supervisors for advice. It is, after all, a learning process in which you have the right to be guided. What matters is that you do not become dependent on your supervisors, and that the supervisors do not hand you ready-made solutions. You should view your supervisors more or less as colleagues with whom you can discuss your work as a way of ordering your own ideas. In the end, you are personally responsible for monitoring your own progress, while your supervisors only make sure that you do watch your own progress.