Master's Thesis in Psychology

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The master's thesis shall provide students with a deeper insight into theory and empiric practice in a defined field. The thesis will develop the students' abilities for a critical and scientific reflection on a research question. A written presentation must be given in line with the current standard for scientific research dissemination.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completing the course candidates shall have acquired ...

Knowledge on how

  • to analyse the relationship between topic, research question, and research design.
  • to choose a research design adequate for the investigating the research problem and in view of constraining factors such as time and the financial situation.
  • to demonstrate both broad and in-depth knowledge about the research area of the project.

Skills on how

  • to develop, plan, and complete a research project, as well as present the results from the project.
  • to provide a clear and precise written and oral presentation of the research work.
  • to assess and explain the choice of the research design.
  • to understand which conclusions can be drawn from the analysis.
  • to be proficient in developing a scientific text in accordance with APA standards, the correct use of and reference to sources, and competent use of relevant literature.

General expertise on how

  • to reflect on the role of researchers in collecting and using data.
  • to reflect on ethical conditions with respect to using and interpreting own data, sources, and quotations.
  • to reflect on authorship and co-authorship of scientific work.

Semester of Instruction

Autumn and spring
Required Previous Knowledge

Students must have passed at least 45 credits (including research methods) from the first year of the master's courses before starting on the master¿s thesis module.

Students must have passed the examinations in the common courses and specialisation courses in their chosen programme option before they can submit their master's thesis.

Students on the "behaviour and neuroscience" programme option who are going to use laboratory animals must take a course in the use of laboratory animals in research equivalent to the course LAS301 during the course of their study.

Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
Registration for the course requires admission to the master's degree programme in psychology
Teaching and learning methods

The course consists of three elements:

  • Project outline of between 3,000 and 4,000 words
  • Master's thesis (in either thesis format or article format, see below)
  • A scientific presentation of one's own project at the closing conference for the master's study.

A separate document will be provided that describes the expected format for the project outline and master's thesis. The project outline and master's thesis can be written in Norwegian or English, and the master's thesis must have a summary in both languages (about 200 words). The master's thesis must be written in line with the APA standard, with either one and a half or double line spacing and with figures inside the text rather than at the end. Length requirements are independent of whether writing alone or in pairs.

Project outline: Under guidance, the students must write a project plan for the master's thesis of between 3,000 and 4,000 words. This must deal with the project's topic area, problem, method, data handling or form of analysis, research ethical assessments and a time frame for the work on the master's thesis. If the students write a preregistration of data collection and analysis, then the project outline can be shorter and have the preregistration as an attachment. The project outline is assessed as approved / not approved by the supervisor in consultation with the subject manager.

Master's thesis in thesis format: The length of the thesis must be between 16,000 and 20,000 words (preface, summary, reference list and appendix are not counted). The length can be shorter if everything necessary is covered. The thesis must have a broader review of the literature, a more comprehensive presentation of the background and issues, and a more in-depth discussion than is usual for a scientific article. The students agree with their supervisors how and how often they will receive supervision during the two semesters, and deliver a final assignment before the deadline towards the end of their second semester.

Master's thesis in article format: The master's thesis consists of an article manuscript and a thesis summary. The total length for these two must be between 12,000 and 16,000 words, depending on the requirements of the journal it is aimed at (preface, summary, reference list and appendix are not counted). The article manuscript must be written in the same way as an empirical or theoretical manuscript submitted for publication in a scientific journal, and must follow this journal's requirements for length and formatting. In the thesis summary it must be stated what kind of journal you imagine the manuscript could have been sent to, and a reason for this. The thesis summary should also contain a more thorough theoretical review and discussion of the article's potential contribution to the research literature than there is room for in the article manuscript. The thesis summary and the article do not have to be in the same language.

Supervision of article format thesis: The supervisor is to act as a peer reviewer for the work on the article manuscript. This means that supervisors must help the students plan the project and get started with the work, but must initially be little involved in supervising the written text. Early in the second semester of the work, the students must submit a draft of the article manuscript and cover to the supervisor, who will then peer-evaluate the draft. Within an agreed deadline (preferably two weeks), the supervisor must give feedback similar to a detailed written peer review from a journal. The students then work independently again to integrate this feedback into the final assignment that is submitted for assessment. Before submission, the referee should not be as involved in writing the article manuscript as a co-author usually is. If students and supervisors wish to submit the work as a scientific article, then supervisors can make their further contributions to the writing after the assignment has been submitted for censorship.

About collaboration in master's thesis work: As a general rule, the master's thesis must be written in pairs, but students can ask to write individually. When writing in pairs, it is expected that the authors will contribute with equal effort in the work, and that they will participate in guidance meetings and follow plans for student collaboration. Assignments written individually have the same length requirements as those written in pairs. In assessing the assignment, the examiner will take into account whether the work has been done by one or two students. When submitting the master's thesis, a form must be submitted with a "declaration of own work in the master's thesis work", signed by both students and supervisors.

There will be a joint orientation meeting for MAPSYK330 and MAPSYK360 in August. During the autumn and spring semesters, a seminar will be held on the practical aspects of master's thesis work, research practice and academic writing.

The supervision is regulated through a more precisely specified guidance agreement. Parts of the supervision may be given in groups. The deadline for delivering the supervision contract will be given at orientation meetings and in MittUiB.

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

This course consists of three elements:

  • A 10-page project outline
  • The Master's thesis (50-60 pages)
  • The presentation section in the form of a scientific presentation of students' own projects at a final conference for the Masters course.

Master's theses shall be written in line with the APA standards (A4, 1.5 line spacing, left, top and bottom margins of at least 2.5 cm), excluding the reference list and appendix. They shall consist of 50-60 pages of text (as a guide). Unlike the format used for articles, theses shall have an introduction which contains a broader review of the literature and a more comprehensive presentation of the background and problems involved. The discussion shall also be more detailed than that commonly used in the format for articles. The other parts of the thesis shall comply with the APA standards, i.e. there shall be a summary in Norwegian and English, each consisting of approx. 200 words. MA theses can also be written in English.

Master's theses can be written individually or in conjunction with another student.

When there is more than one author, the authors are expected to contribute equally to the work involved.

Their supervision is regulated by a more specific supervision agreement. Some supervision can be provided in groups. The deadline for submitting the Supervision Agreement contract is 15 October for students who start working on their Master's thesis during the autumn semester, and 15 March for students who start work on their Master's thesis during the spring semester.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
  • A project outline must be submitted via MittUib within the specified deadline.
  • The students must carry out an academic presentation of their project in the form of a presentation lasting 15-30 minutes at the closing conference for the master's degree programme. The presentation must be in the form of an oral presentation.
  • Supervision contract
  • Forms of Assessment

    Master's thesis in thesis format: The length of the thesis must be between 16,000 and 20,000 words (preface, summary, reference list and appendix are not counted).

    Master's thesis in article format: The master's thesis consists of an article manuscript and a thesis summary. The total length for these two must be between 12,000 and 16,000 words, depending on the requirements of the journal it is aimed at (preface, summary, reference list and appendix are not counted).

    The master's thesis will be assessed based on scientific requirements and degree of independent work. It is expected that the work will correspond to a year's student work done as part of the master's thesis topic. The Master's thesis receives a joint grade even if two students write the thesis together.

    A master's thesis written in article format will be evaluated based on whether it lives up to the expectations for a manuscript that is submitted to the journal in question. The article manuscript will therefore be shorter in length than a master's thesis in thesis format, but the examiner should be able to expect that more work has been put into getting a clear focus around a concrete issue, and a precise and concise scientific language.

    Grading Scale
    The grading scale used is A to F.
    Assessment Semester
    Autumn and spring
    Reading List
    Does not apply
    Course Evaluation
    Students shall assess their tuition in accordance with the UiB's quality assurance system.
    Examination Support Material
    Not applicable
    Programme Committee
    Department of Psychosocial Science
    Course Coordinator
    Department of Psychosocial Science
    Course Administrator
    The Faculty of Psychology