Part 9: Master’s Dissertation Faculty Regulations

Registration subject or title and supervisor for EMGS-students

No artemis registration required but registration via online form - deadline 11 March 2019

Registration title and supervisor in oasis and submit the master’s dissertation electronically in Minerva - deadline 17 May 2019 12:00

Ethical issues master's dissertation

Third party involved - master dissertation contract


§ 1 A master’s dissertation proves that students are able to implement the knowledge and skills acquired during their degree course.

There are three formats:

  • An academic dissertation proves that the academic programme has been successfully completed. It reflects independent academic work of the student.
  • A policy report is a report on research carried out in collaboration with, commissioned by or in consultation with an organisational client (e.g. via the science shop).
  • A journal article is a format that prepares aspiring students for an academic career. They familiarise themselves with publication procedures specific to an academic context.

Article 2: OBJECTIVE


§ 1 A master’s dissertation is the end product of students' research projects, during which they carry out academic research in an independent and creative manner on a chosen topic in the field of study. Within the framework of a master’s dissertation, the entire project is developed and written down in a concise report.


§ 2 The purpose of a policy report is to arrive at specific recommendations for the client or setting within which the report was drawn up by means of academically approved techniques and methodologies. Sometimes, the aim of a policy report is to indicate what strategies and interventions are to be realised. Another possible objective is the evaluation of existing strategies. A policy report can, therefore, include various facets, including SWOT analyses, feasibility studies, evaluation research, efficiency analysis, environmental analysis, organisational audits ... In many cases a policy report is based on a combination of the aforementioned approaches.


§ 3 A master’s dissertation can also be written in the form of a journal article. In this formula, the master’s dissertation must be drawn up in such a manner that the submitted “article" could theoretically be published in a scholarly journal straight away.

Article 3: FORMATS


§ 1 A master’s dissertation can take different basic forms (depending whether the emphasis lies on empirical research, methodological issues, literature study ...). This choice will be made in consultation with the supervisor.

§3 Every master’s dissertation contains a literature review. Its importance and size may vary, depending on the selected format.

§4. Possible master’s dissertation formats:

1. Empirical study

In line with the objective, a distinction is made between two types of empirical studies: testing research and exploratory research. The objective of testing research is to verify the validity of a certain hypothesis, theory or specific model, while explorative research aims to gather information that contributes to the development or formulation of a hypothesis or model. The literature review in both cases focuses on clarifying the relevant theory, hypotheses, models, etc. as well as situating their scientific context and adjusting and elaborating them when necessary.

2. Methodological study

A research project can also focus on developing a method or research tool. In this case, the master’s dissertation takes the form of a methodological study. In addition to a literature review, this type of master’s dissertation includes at least an illustrative application on empirical data.

3. Literature review

Lastly, a master’s dissertation can also focus completely on a literature review. Literature with regard to a clearly defined research question is collected and studied in order to present an overview in which existing theories, models, insights and/or empirical research findings are assessed. The emphasis, therefore, lies on the literature study, but, naturally, does not exclude (a) a meta-analysis of empirical research findings or (b) a critical analysis of several theories insights and models. From this analysis, potentially testable research hypotheses should emerge

The above overview is not exhaustive. Students can also choose a mixed format. This choice is made in consultation with the supervisor.


§ 4 The policy report does not include subcategories. Policy, however, has to be interpreted in a broad sense. Policy, in this case, can refer to both political policy and organisational policy such as policies of municipalities, public authorities, NGOs…


§5 The journal article can adopt several basic formats (similar to an academic dissertation), such as:

  1. a theoretical contribution (with emphasis on literature study)
  2. an empirical contribution (with emphasis on concrete empirical research)
  3. a methodological contribution (with emphasis on methodological issues.



§ 1 An academic dissertation includes the following parts:

. The abstract
The first page contains a centred title, followed by an "Abstract" (an English summary of the paper of at least 200 and maximum 300 words). The abstract outlines the examined problems, the methodology and the obtained results.

2. The Recommended corpus
The corpus comprises the full dissertation, including the tables and figures that are inserted to clarify the presentation. Similar to a scientific article, the structure of the corpus is highlighted by the choice of main sections.

In an empirical or methodological study, the corpus can be divided into "Introduction", "Methodology", "Results" and "Discussion and Conclusion" sections. If several empirical studies or experiments are mentioned, the introduction will typically be followed by sections called "study 1”, “study 2” etc., or "Experiment 1”, “Experiment 2” etc. Each of these sections can then further subdivided in "Methodology", "Results" and "Discussion". The "Results" and "Discussion" sections can also be merged if the respective sections are rather short. The section "methodology" is further subdivided into the following separate subsections: "Sample" (in which the sampled is described), "research design" (in which the research design is clarified), "data" (which describes the (collected) data and the tests which were used) and "Procedure" (in which the approach is explained in more detail). One or more of these subsections can be taken together if the description is very short, such as when a second study is conducted in nearly the same manner as the first one. In a literature review, the structure of the dissertation will be determined more by the topics covered.


§2 A good policy report is characterised by a specific finality and structure. A policy report is written on the basis of presentation logic, which means that you should avoid boring the reader with all the steps that you have taken to find a solution (this is based on solution logic). A presentation logic is based on the GAS principle. This acronym stands for Global, Analytical and Synthetic. This means that each main section listed below consists of the following three subdivisions. The global subdivision should mention the central message discussed in the respective section. The analytical subdivision should contain an elaboration of these ideas. The synthetic subdivision should summarise your work briefly and conclude the main section.

You can also use the GAS principle to structure your sections. The first sentence describes the global idea/information that is discussed in the section. The next sentences contain the analytical elaboration of your research design on how you arrived at this idea. The last sentence concludes the section in a synthetic way.

The recommended main sections for a policy report are as follows:

1. Executive summary

Not everyone in the organisation will read the report in full. Because of this, it is important that you provide a management summary in English. This contains the objectives, hypotheses, a short methodological elaboration and, most importantly, recommendations.

2. Introduction

This section contains the objectives and methodology. You should anticipate the results that the reader can expect. Pay attention to the introduction. This appetiser needs to draw the reader's attention.

3. The predetermined objectives

What is the purpose of this policy report? Why was it developed? Which questions will be answered?

4. Theoretical background

As this is a policy report, the construction of a theory is not the main purpose (contrary to what is the case for a scientific article for example). The report, however, draws on scientific theories, assumptions and models, which need to be specified. The reader needs to know the framework within which he/she should situate the research and assess your work.

5. Methodology

The above also applies to this section. In order to be able interpret the results correctly, readers need to know the methodology. It is, therefore, of vital importance that you mention why you opt for a specific methodology. You must also be able to justify every choice you make in function of the data and the objectives.

6. Results

The first rule is that the reader should not be overwhelmed by data. You should first determine which tables and data summaries have to be included (you can use an appendix for the other ones). You, therefore, have to think about what you want to show, which means that you have to select the most characteristic findings. Once you have made that selection, you can start constructing the text on the basis of tables. Your text, however, is not a repetition of what can be found in the tables/charts. Your text should interpret the tables, charts and data summaries and ensure that the reader arrives at the correct interpretation of your findings.

7. Conclusions

What can you infer on the basis of the correct interpretation of your data/findings? It goes without saying that this should be done within the framework of your initial theoretical assumptions. You should also discuss the limitations of your research as these ensure that your conclusions can be viewed critically.

8. Recommendations

This part is the feedback to section three “”predetermined objectives”. What can you recommend now in function of the objectives? What should the client pay attention to? What are the odds that the set objectives will be achieved?

9. References

10. Appendix


§ 3 This format of a master’s dissertations adheres to the guidelines that authors follow when writing a scientific article. The criteria can be found in the evaluation form (see annex 2).

The first page contains a centred title, followed by an English "Abstract" (a summary of the paper of at least 200 and maximum 300 words). The abstract outlines the issues that were explored, the methodology and the obtained results.


Source reference

§ 4 Students use an APA system for references. In consultation with the supervisor, they can also use another reference system, provided that they can motivate their decision. In any case, students should consistently follow the same reference system when writing their dissertation. (See APA manual on Minerva).

§ 5 If students mainly use legal sources, and in particular, the legislation and case-law, they should use the source reference, quoting and abbreviation manners of academic writing applied in law.

§ 6 The use of EndNote is recommended.


§ 7 A standard title page is used (indicating the chosen format). A template is made available on Minerva.

§ 8 The “right of access to the master’s dissertation for third parties” document (see Minerva) is to be signed and added after the title page.

§ 9 The master’s dissertation is printed double-sided and bound (= glued) in a sustainable manner (i.e. without use of plastic maps, covers, rings etc.)


§ 10 The student has written the master’s dissertation independently and the choices made fully reflect the vision of the student.

Scientific transparency

§11 In academic work, all statements must always be well founded using clear language. The writer should enable the reader to follow the argumentation and estimate the scientific value and scope of each claim. This means that students must clarify how he/she has arrived at their ideas (own experience, personal data collection; how, where and when the data were collected). The reader of the master’s dissertation must, therefore, always be able to distinguish which interpretations or arguments come from the student, and which ones are derived from listed academic authors or sources. When referring to ideas or empirical findings of others, students must always adequately refer to the source(s) used.


§ 12 The master’s dissertation is written in English. On request and agreed upon by the supervisor, it may also be written in French.


§ 14 The Faculty has drawn up Faculty Plagiarism Regulations (see section 9 of the Faculty's education and examination code) with regard to master’s dissertation irregularities when writing a master’s dissertation or dealing with other forms of (written) reporting.

Article 5: SIZE


§ 1 The size of the academic dissertation ranges from 15,000 to 27,000 words (all words included with the exception of the annexes). The number of words (word count) is mentioned on the title page (the Faculty Student Administration Office checks this when the dissertation is submitted).

Please note that these minima and maxima may under no circumstances be exceeded. If this is the case, the master’s dissertation will be declared inadmissible.


§ 2 The size of the policy report ranges from 15,000 to 25,000 words (abstract, tables, bibliography, footnotes and possible attachments not included). The number of words (word count) is mentioned on the title page (the Faculty Student Administration Office checks this when the dissertation is submitted).

Please note that these minima and maxima may under no circumstances be exceeded. If this is the case, the master’s dissertation will be declared inadmissible.


§ 3 A journal article contains between 8000 and 10,000 words (abstract, tables, bibliography, footnotes and possible attachments not included). The number of words (word count) is mentioned on the title page (the Faculty Student Administration Office checks this when the dissertation is submitted).

Please note that these minima and maxima may under no circumstances be exceeded. If this is the case, the master’s dissertation will be declared inadmissible.


A. The Supervision

§ 1 Each student is supervised by a lecturer, or post-doctoral researcher/post-doctoral assistant.

§2 The supervisor belongs to the Faculty of Political & Social Sciences and is a member of the department that is (partly) responsible for the study programme of the student.

§3 Assistants, scientific collaborators or externals with the necessary experience and expertise may also be involved in supervision activities, under the overall responsibility of the supervisor.

B. Registering in Artemis and Oasis

The registration deadlines are communicated via

§ 5 If students fail to register in time in Artemis and Oasis, they cannot hand in their master’s dissertation.

C. Submission of the master’s dissertation

§ 6 All students, regardless of their department or study programme have to submit the master’s dissertation electronically via the master’s dissertation module on Minerva (PDF format). The submission deadlines can be found on

Students from the Sociology Department are also required to submit two hard copies at the Secretariat of their department, printed double-sided and bound (= glued) in a durable manner (without the use of plastic front and back, rings, covers, etc.).

§ 7 Digital attachments up to 600 MB have to be uploaded via the master’s dissertation module on Minerva. Anything above 600 MB has to be supplied separately in consultation with the supervisor (via USB or CD-ROM).


§ 8 The Examination Committee may also meet after the first part of the first exam period in a graduation year of a master's degree for students who only have to pass for their master’s dissertation and/or first semester subjects. In this case, students are allowed to submit the master’s dissertation in the first semester.

The submission deadline is communicated via

D. Oral defense

§ 9 The master’s dissertation is a written report. Students, regardless of department or study programme, must also orally defend their master’s dissertation.

The oral defense is an exposition of the master’s dissertation with the aim of additionally reviewing the points which emerged from the assessment of the submitted thesis. The place and time of the oral defense of the master’s dissertation are communicated electronically. A student cannot withdraw from the oral defense under any circumstances (otherwise, the student will have failed this course). In exceptional cases (internship, foreign study visits ...), the oral defense can be organised via Skype or similar media tools.

F. The evaluation procedure

§ 10 Each master’s dissertation is evaluated by both the supervisor and one Commissioner on the basis of a report. The Programme Committees appoint the commissioners. The final score will be the average of the score of the supervisor and the score of the commissioner(s).

§ 11 The assessment and scoring framework can be found in the “master’s dissertation assessment form” (see annex).

G. Feedback

§ 12 Every student has the right to feedback on his/her master’s dissertation. When the marks are released after the first (and/or second) examination period, the FSA will, at the request of the student, forward the evaluation forms via e-mail.

H. Master’s dissertation agreement

§ 13 If a third party is involved in a master’s dissertation (e.g. a company, external organisation) it is desirable that all parties sign a master’s dissertation agreement. This agreement governs the liability (confidentiality and property rights). This master’s dissertation agreement is signed in three copies, first by the supervisor and afterwards by the student. Students then submit the master’s dissertation for signature to the external party. Lastly, the Faculty Director of Studies signs the document on behalf of UGent.

The Faculty Education Services (called the FSA at our faculty) scans the signed agreement and attaches it as document type in OASIS to the course 'master’s dissertation' of the student. The signed copy of the master’s dissertation agreement is kept at the Faculty Education services. The other two copies are for the student and the third party. The formats for the master’s dissertation Agreement can be found on the website of UGent TechTransfer:


Students who do not pass their master’s dissertation and resubmit it at a later date, have to add a separate document, in which they (a) give an overview of the changes made, and (b) indicate how they have responded to the reports and the comments on the earlier version.