HEM4390 – Master Thesis

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

During the final semester of the Master Programme in Higher Education, you are required to write a 50-80 page master thesis. The thesis is an independent piece of scientific research demonstrating the student's competence in higher education in relation to the aims of the programme.

You are assisted in developing the proposal for you thesis through a special writing course, advanced research methods course, and thesis proposal seminars. Field work cannot be undertaken until the thesis proposal has been approved. You are guided in you work by a supervisor who is appointed by the department with expertise in the particular topic under investigation.

Data for the thesis are collected in the country/countries under investigation and depend on the issue under investigation. Quota students should preferably undertake field work in their country of origin. Norwegian students are encouraged to undertake data collection outside of Norway or on a comparative basis with Norway.

Learning outcome

Upon successful completion of this course you are expected to


  • demonstrate understanding of how to apply research methods and design in order to complete a master thesis.


  • be able to organize their work on the thesis, taking into account his/her role in relation to the role of the supervisor(s), the aims of the process of producing a master thesis as well as limitations in terms of resources.
  • produce a clear, consistent and coherent research based thesis.


  • be able to work independently to create a master thesis.
  • demonstrate research and analytical competence in issue relating to higher education in relation to the aims of the programme.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

The course is a part of the Master programme in Higher Education. Only students formally accepted to these programmes may attend this course.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Students must have completed all other courses in the programme in order to receive supervision and hand in their thesis.


The supervisor(s) will guide you in the work on the thesis in individual tutorials. You have the right to a maximum of 30 hours of supervision. This includes the supervisor’s time for preparation and 10 hours of face to face supervision. The amount of time for supervision remains the same in case of co-supervision.

A supervision agreement must be completed and signed by both supervisor(s) and student. You must have passed all previous courses in order to obtain a supervisor.

Supervision is compulsory. The total hours of supervision should be decided by the student and supervisor during the first supervision meeting. The total number of hours should not exceed 30.


The thesis is evaluated by a commission comprised of two members, one of which is external. The supervisor is not included as a commission member. The supervisor will only participate during the commission meeting and will provide the commission members information connected to your work or guidelines the supervisor has given you during supervision. The supervisor does not participate in deciding the final grade of the thesis.

The two commission members will jointly agree on a grade. If there is a disagreement amongst the commission members, a new commission will be arranged. The final grade for the thesis is based on an overall assessment of the written work and the performance of the candidate in the oral defense.

You are not expected to prepare a presentation but will be asked questions by the commission members based on the written thesis. You will receive the grade immediately after the oral examination is completed. The oral exam will take place within 8 weeks after submission of the thesis.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

A master’s thesis that is not passed may be resubmitted only once, and then within the agreed time and in revised form. A master’s thesis that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form.

If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Spring and autumn

Teaching language