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1. Preparing your thesis project

1. Preparing your master thesis project

The Master's Programme in Psychology is concluded by writing an individual master thesis within the chosen specialization: Conflict, Risk & Safety (CRS); Health Psychology & Technology (HPT); Human Factors & Engineering Psychology (HFE); Learning Sciences (LS) or Positive Clinical Psychology & Technology (PCPT).
You will perform an in-depth study of a psychological (research) question and write an individual report on the subject (complying with the APA standards; in English. 

1.1 Requirements

There are several requirements to think about before starting to find a project. These are explained in this paragraph.

Learning goals and conditions
The master thesis is actually the final exam of your Psychology study, which means that you can show what you have learned over the years. For more information about the learning goals of the master/thesis you can check the final attainment targets (e.g. learning goals) of the master’s programme in Psychology.
The master thesis contrasts to the bachelor's thesis in its greater depth, size, level of analysis and student independence. The competences acquired in the field of research and design will be developed to a more advanced level. This means that you are required to work on a relatively complex design or research assignment with a high level of independence and to demonstrate the ability to contribute to the development of a scientific theory, model or tool.
The master thesis (and if selected the internship) also ensures that you gain insight into the future professional field and develop an idea of personal career desires and prospects. Furthermore, you will encounter general, academic and professional skills that you can employ for the benefit of future careers. During the master thesis you will put the skills in professional behavior into practice in contact with the (internal and if applicable external) supervisors.

Size and possibility to combine the thesis with an internship
A master thesis of either 25 EC or 35 EC is conducted. If you include an internship in your programme, you will conduct a master thesis of 25EC. In most cases it is advisable to combine the internship and the master thesis. This means that you do an internship with the (external) organization where you also carry out your master thesis. In that case the internship usually takes place prior to the master thesis. Doing the internship first allows you to become acquainted with the organization and the tasks, and it offers an opportunity, prior to the master thesis, to carry out a more practically relevant internship project that specifically benefits the organization concerned. More information about the internship can be found at the psychology website
When you do not go on an internship a masterhesis of 35EC is conducted. In that case you already start the thesis in the second block of your master’s programme and spend approximately four days a week on your master thesis project during three blocks. The exact time spent may differ per block, also taking into account the courses scheduled.

A master thesis of either 10 or 30 EC is conducted. If you go on an internship (clinical or research-practice) a master thesis of 10 EC is conducted. If you do not go on an internship the master’s programme can be completed by doing a 30 EC master thesis. Within this master’s specialization the possibilities to combine the master thesis and the internship are very limited. This is in general only possible when there is already an agreement with the internship organization to perform research together.

Supervision requirements
Master thesis committees will consist of at least two examiners, both employees of the UT, at least one of whom holds a PhD. The first examiner, who supervises the student and is directly involved in the thesis research topic, is to be affiliated with the Psychology programme at the UT as a teacher and/or researcher. A further requirement is that the first examiner/supervisor is to be affiliated with the (department of the) master's specialization you selected. This may only be derogated from following approval by the track (specialization) coordinator of the master's specialization concerned. When the first examiner/supervisor holds a PhD, the second examiner is at least a lecturer (MSc/drs). When the first examiner does not hold a PhD, he or she is at least a PhD candidate. An external, third supervisor can be engaged as an advisor to the master thesis committee. If a student (and/or supervisor) in an exceptional case wishes to derogate from the above requirements on the master thesis committee, the student has to submit an application thereto with the Psychology examination board.

1.2 Finding a master thesis project

Finding a suitable project is time-consuming. The student needs to be aware of this to start off well. The ways to find a project are presented here, but will also be explained in more detail and specified for the master’s specialization you chose at the introductory lecture during the first week of your master’s programme (September or February). For every specialization there is a coordinator, called track coordinator. These are:


M.W. Westerhof, MSc. 


dr. S.J. Watson


dr. C.H.C. Drossaert


dr. A.M. Sools


dr. H. van der Meij

1. The first option is choosing from available projects.
For choosing an available project you check the website with the list of subjects. The exact procedure differs per specialization and is described on this page. In some cases you need to contact the supervisor of a specific thesis subject yourself and in other cases you need to contact the track coordinator first.

2. The second option is that you search yourself for available projects offered by companies or institutes.
In order to be able to determine the suitability of a master thesis project you have to keep in mind that the core of a master thesis project implies a design or a research component (including empirical, evaluative and reflective aspects, grounded in a theoretical and scientific framework). If you would like to search yourself for available projects offered by companies or institutes please address the following questions:

  • What is the relevance of the project for the target organization and/or for the academic discipline Psychology, especially the specific master’s specialization?
  • If applicable, will there be sufficient and qualitatively adequate guidance from the company/organisation?
  • Is the problem indicated a real problem? Are the formulated research questions embedded in relevant literature?
  • Will there be sufficient opportunities to find out what causes the problem, or to collect the needed information?
  • Is it possible to complete the project in the time given?
  • Does the project generate student’s enthusiasm and commitment?

Before you approach an organization about a position/project they offer, contact the track coordinator first. The university has long-existing contacts with many organizations. Even if there is not an assignment available via the aforementioned websites, the university might already be in contact with an organization for a project or has contacts available to approach. Therefore, it is important that you first check with the track coordinator whether there are existing contacts before you approach an organization. The track coordinator can also assess the suitability of the project for your master thesis.
Note: International students may need a work permit to execute a master thesis project in a company or institute. In this regard, students should contact the Faculty’s Office for International Affairs, Ravelijn 3270:

3. The third option is that you come up with your own (internal) project.
In this case, the student has to send a brief research proposal (one A-4 page) to the track coordinator. This should include a clear problem definition, adjacent research questions, scientific relevance and feasibility, and the expected outcomes of the project. If the project seems feasible (e.g. sufficiently concurring with the faculty’s expertise, possibility to embody scientific research questions, doable in the given period), the coordinator will try to find a supervisor who is willing and able to supervise the project.