Academic Papers

Guidelines for writing Master’s Theses at the Faculty for Business, Economics and Statistics of the University of Vienna

These guidelines contain the internal procedures of the Faculty for Business, Economics and Statistics (hereinafter “Faculty”) for students and supervisors regarding the process of development for Master’s Theses as well as for the cooperation between students and supervisors.

These guidelines aim to standardize and achieve a common understanding of this academic accomplishment within the Faculty. They also serve as a legal basis for the study program management in case of possible disagreements.

The following information refers to legal regulations insofar as they are relevant for the implementation of these procedures. The legal regulations can be found in the corresponding sources (University Law, the Statutes of the University of Vienna and in the respective curriculum).

Page Currently Under Construction

Please be patient!

This webpage is currently under construction due to necessary updates! Content will be fully available again shortly! Thank you for your understanding!

For now you can only download the German Guidelines!

Before you start with your thesis

During your work on your thesis

  • General formal requirements of the University of Vienna
  • Collaboration with your supervisor
  • Format of the Master's Thesis
  • Common Mistakes
  • Collaborative thesis writing
  • Master Conversatorium

After you have completed your thesis

  • Submission and Assessment
  • Plagiarism and Plagiarism Check
  • Thesis Embargo
  • Registration for Master Defence (Oral Exam)

General rules and formal requirements of the University of Vienna

The Master's thesis serves as proof of the student’s ability to work on scientific topics independently and in a way that is acceptable in terms of content and methodology. Students have the right to subject-specific supervision of the Master's or Magister thesis, but no right to a specific person or to a specific topic. There are no formal regulations on how long students may take for their thesis, but the chosen topic should allow for submission of the completed thesis after no more than 6 months. The topic of the thesis must correspond to the respective specifications of the curriculum and be dealt with using methods that have been acquired during the course of studies.

According to the statutes of the University of Vienna, students are entitled to request a university instructor to supervise their thesis. There is NO legal entitlement to supervision by a person WITHOUT teaching authorization or competence on a specific topic (please see the website of the officer responsible for the implementation of the study law “Studienpräses”). If a student cannot find a supervisor, the Studienpräses will assign a supervisor to the student. In this case, please contact the Director of Studies.

The correct procedure for writing Master's/Master's theses involves the following steps:

  • Researching a topic
  • Outlining preliminary ideas (exposé)
  • Contacting a suitable supervisor
  • Registration of the topic/supervision
  • Attendance of the Master conservatory (can also be done while or after writing the thesis)
  • Writing the thesis
  • Uploading the thesis for plagiarism check
  • Submission of the printed and bound version after the successful plagiarism check
  • Assessment of the thesis
  • Application for the defense and exam

What is the difference between a Master’s thesis and a seminar paper?

In contrast to a seminar papter, a Master’s thesis should include new well-defined elements, results or insights which do not yet exist in scientific literature. An innovation is established when it reflects this definition. The magnitude or importance of the innovation does not matter as long as the “added value” is not negligible. What this innovation entails and to what extent it can be described as such should clearly be outlined in the exposé. A (qualitative or quantitative) summary of literature is not sufficient for the work to be classified as innovative (except for theses on legal topics).

Examples for approaches that reach a satisfactory level of innovation are listed below:

  • Development of strategies in specific business or economic practices
  • Adaptation of existing approaches to new situations or circumstances
  • Unification of existing models or approaches
  • Comparative analysis of methods or approaches
  • Collection and statistical evaluation of data
  • Statistical evaluation and interpretation of data
  • Simulation for the development of new insights
  • Programming and implementation of new algorithms
  • Simple mathematical modelling and description of theoretical approaches
  • Application and interpretation of law to new situations and circumstances

No innovation is given if, for example, material from different sources is merely collected or if data is simply procured and described. The methodological structure of the thesis should be defined in consultation with the supervisor.



Finding a topic and a supervisor

In principle, every habilitated professor may supervise Master’s theses within the scope of their teaching capacity. Additionally, associate professors (tenure track with a completed qualifying agreement) may also supervise Master’s theses independently. Co-supervision is possible after the completion of a doctorate.


Students are responsible for finding a supervisor. Ideally, the student should propose and briefly explain the topic of thesis in a short exposé. This outline should be 2 to 5 pages and must cover the topic as well as the methodology of the intended thesis. It should also include an introductory literature review. Moreover, it should clearly demonstrate that the student has the necessary competences to work on the chosen topic.

During the semester, the student can expect to receive a response regarding supervisory commitment, refusal or deferral within 2 weeks. A deferral may mean that the exposé needs to be adjusted or that the desired supervisor wishes that other potential supervisors be contacted first (due to, for example, a more suitable area of expertise or current workload). Supervision must not be made dependent on whether certain courses were attended, or certain grades were achieved.

A potential supervisor may refuse an application if a student has insufficient knowledge to work on the proposed topic, if there are severe deficiencies in the exposé, or if they are already actively supervising more than 10 Master’s theses per year (provided there are other supervisors with the capacity and expertise for this or related topics). The SPL manages the statistics on which supervisors do not have the capacity to supervise more theses. If a supervisor is supervising fewer than 10 theses, the faculty assumes that this supervisor is available.

If a student receives rejections from all professors who could supervise their suggested topic, the student should firstly try to change the topic or focus. If, after adapting the topic, the student remains unsuccessful, the Director of Studies is required to assist the student with finding a suitable supervisor. This search is based upon the topic matrix, the main fields of the study, and the availability of possible supervisors.

Possible topics and supervisors

Below is a list of all possible topics and supervisors (hereafter topic matrix) at the faculty. This list has been created in coordination with all habilitated faculty members and provides an overview of supervisors and the topics they cover. Please note, students are not entitled to supervision from a specific person!

Rules for good academic practices at the University of Vienna

All researchers, lecturers and students of the University of Vienna are committed to scientifically correct behavior. This refers to the independent writing of papers, the correct handling of sources and the correct performance of analyses.

When registering their Master's or Magister thesis, students must confirm that they comply with the rules of good academic practice by completing and signing the corresponding form and submitting it with the registration of the thesis.

Link: Basic rules for good scientific practices