Master - Academic paper - before starting

General rules and procedure

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
  • Write a Research Proposal
  • 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 a proposal and what does it contain?

A proposal consists of 2 to 4 pages. It suggests a possible approach to a Master's thesis and serves to facilitate the search for a suitable supervisor. The proposal must contain information on the following points:


  1. Will the thesis be written in German or English, or are you open to deciding in which of the two languages you want to write the thesis in?
  2. What is the motivation behind the research question?
  3. Which of the following methods will be used? Process analysis, survey, experiment, qualitative analysis or empirical-based method, development of a mathematical, statistical or economic model, other method to be described
  4. What is the expected innovation?
  5. Which literature is relevant? Use only literature from international journals and relevant books. Outline, in particular, what has already been done and why are the expected findings of the thesis are innovative compared to the existing findings in the literature?
  6. Brief explanation of how this can be achieved in a maximum of 6 months.

For theses that includes data analysis

  1. How many observations are there? What data should be used? What is the sample?
  2. Which research questions or hypotheses would you like to analyse using which statistical method?

For papers that do not involve data analysis, simulations, or mathematical calculations

Include a careful explanation as to why significant new findings are nevertheless to be expected.

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

A master's thesis must contain new, well-defined elements, results and insights that are not already contained in existing academic papers or books. Novelty is established if it fulfils exactly this description. The size or significance does not matter as long as the "added value" is not negligible. What this novelty is about, and to what extent it is to be assessed as such, should be clearly defined in the exposé.

A (qualitative or quantitative) summary of the literature, or more generally, a summary of previous knowledge on a specific issue, is not to be regarded as sufficiently innovative. The same applies to the acquisition and description of data without careful statistical analysis. It should be explicitly mentioned that it is very difficult to gain new insights without (i) calculating something, either statistically, mathematically or with the help of simulations, or (ii) applying a qualitative data analysis method using codes, themes, patterns, narratives, or processes. For master’s theses in law, the principles for law theses apply. Here, too, the mere reproduction of what is already known is not sufficient but new insights have to be generated.

In addition, the specific ideas about the methodology used to achieve this novelty must be discussed with the supervisor.

Examples of possible approaches for the development of a master’s thesis would be:

•    Developing strategies in special business or economic applications
•    Adaptation of existing approaches to new situations and circumstances
•    Standardisation of existing models or approaches
•    Comparative analysis of methods or approaches
•    Collection and statistical analysis of data
•    Statistical analysis and interpretation of data
•    Simulation to develop new findings
•    Programming and implementation of a new algorithm
•    Simple mathematical modelling and description of theoretical approaches
•    Application and interpretation of current law to new situations and circumstances
•    Collection and analysis of qualitative case studies, interviews or focus groups

Professional specifications

Subject differences diversify the academic papers of the faculty, but also mean some specifics depending on the area in which you want to write your paper. For details, please refer to the respective web pages:

Finding a topic and a supervisor

In General

All habilitated professors may supervise Master's theses within the scope of their teaching capacity. In addition, associated professors (= tenure track with fulfilled qualification agreement) may also supervise Master's theses independently. At our faculty, requests should first be made to habilitated colleagues in the respective department. It is also possible for non-habilitated persons to be co-supervisor, but they must at least have completed a doctorate and be employed by the faculty. The application for co-supervision must be made by the supervisor.

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.

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.

If you have asked for support several supervisors at the same time and have received an acceptance, it is mandatory to inform all other requested supervisors about this.

Possible topics and supervisors

On the faculty website you’ll find 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 that students are not entitled to supervision from a specific person!

You have already actively approached a supervisor for your scientific work on your Master's degree in Business Administration or International Business Administration and would now like to be assigned a supervisor by the directorate of studies (based on the capacity utilization of the persons you have inquired about).

In this case, if you would like support, please contact the directorate of studies by mail (



Thesis Master International Business Adminstration: Chose a specialization in Business (B) with a focus on the alternative elective module "Kulturwissenschaflticher Raum".

Supervisor has to be a habilitated person at the Faculty of Business, Economics and Statistics (Professor*in).

(A co-supervisor supervises the writing of the Master's thesis and proposes the grade as well as central aspects for the review; the grade & review are assigned/written & signed by the habilitated supervisor.)

Necessity of assigment of a supervisor

You have actively but unsuccessfully approached potential supervisors for your master’s thesis in Business Administration or International Business Administration and would now like to be assigned a supervisor by the director of studies (based on the capacity utilisation of the persons you have approached)?

If you would like support, please upload the documents listed below at the ServiceDesk under the item "Master´s thesis" - Registration:

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.



Basic rules for good scientific practices

Registering the Master's thesis

As soon as you have confirmation of supervision, the subject and supervisor must be registered at the StudyServiceCenter (SSC) via ticket-system in our servicedesk using the appropriate form. If you change the subject (e.g. language or specialisation) and/or supervisor, you must submit a change request. A signed copy of the rules of good academic practices (see above) must also be handed in.

Link to our ticket-system in the Servicedesk "Master's thesis": HERE

Forms to submitt:

Blocking theses from public access

If the scientific work is not to be released for public availability due to sensitive company data, a block must be applied for. The SPL recommends that a blocking application be submitted when registering the work in the SSC and that copies of any contracts or agreements be enclosed.
The justification for the ban must be written in a comprehensible manner and the duration of the ban must be kept as short as possible. The Büro Studienpräses decides whether a ban can be approved and for how long (maximum 5 years) upon recommendation by the Director of Studies.

Link: Application for blocking thesis from public access

You can find out more about the difference between publishing the full text on the university publication server and blocking academic papers in the info sheet on the website of the Studienpräses.