It’s something that comes up sooner or later for each of us – the bachelor’s thesis. As a rule, this is written at the end of the bachelor’s program, i.e. in the sixth semester. However, the actual work begins much earlier. When choosing a suitable chair to supervise it and also when choosing a topic. The topic and the academic chair are often chosen according to interest, but the recommendations of other students and the availability and methodology of a bachelor thesis also matter in the right choice of topic and supervising chair.
The form of a thesis is the key to success. This does not only concern the outer form (such as seminar, outline, submission, etc.), but above all the way how the paper is structured. The requirements for the Bachelor thesis vary from chair to chair. Some professors want the bachelor thesis to be written in English and in other cases it may be required to create a questionnaire or to collect primary data yourself. The most common form of the bachelor thesis is probably the literature comparison. Here, a research question is answered with the help of relevant literature. The students’ own work is thus the verification of a hypothesis that has been formulated in advance. In any case, a lot of literature is read and compared, which is why it is advisable for some students to take part in one of the training courses offered by the university library. Courses like “Effective Research” and “Literature Management with Citavi” can help to create and successfully manage a literature collection. Due to Corona only online courses are offered at the moment.
The bachelor thesis itself is credited with 15 ECTS, of which three ECTS are completed in a seminar on the bachelor thesis. This seminar corresponds either to the regular appointments with the supervisor of the thesis, in which individual challenges are discussed, or to a seminar with other students who are supervised by the same chair. In these undergraduate seminars, techniques of scientific work and correct citation techniques are often presented and there are a few helpful tips for starting a thesis. As a rule, all participants present the status of their work in this bachelor thesis seminar. The first steps are then often not as tricky.
Every Bachelor’s graduate has his or her own approach when it comes to writing the Bachelor’s thesis. Whether the technical literature is immediately checked or whether one deals with already written bachelor theses of a related topic: A sound outline is important – this is common to all theses. Certainly, sooner or later there comes a point when you don’t know your way around your own work or you are faced with an invisible wall, often you change the outline again – but even the first version of the outline helps to focus again and to recall the actual research question.
Tobias is in the midst of preparing his bachelor’s thesis and is still looking for a supervising chair. Here we answer some of the questions that inevitably arise in the run-up to a thesis:
You are currently looking for your bachelor thesis – which aspects are particularly important to you personally?
Personally, I find it important that my topic is not only exciting, but also workable. For me, this means that there is enough relevant literature on the subject and that it arouses my interest.
Do you already have an idea of what to expect?
Many of my fellow students have already written a bachelor’s thesis, but they report completely different experiences. To ensure that nothing goes wrong, I have resolved to invest a lot of time and commitment in the bachelor thesis.
Which departments have you already contacted to find a topic for your Bachelor’s thesis?
It is not yet clear which topic it will be, but the chairs of International Business and Society Relations with a focus on Latin America by Prof. Dr. Gardini, Business Information Systems III by Prof. Dr. Amberg and Communication Science by Prof. Dr. Zeh are my favorites so far.
How do you integrate the bachelor thesis into your study plan?
I am in my 5th semester and plan to start my bachelor thesis next semester, then everything can be perfectly integrated into my study plan.
Will you also take one of the courses offered by the university library?
It depends on the bachelor thesis topic, but most likely i will. Especially the course on effective research is a good choice in my eyes, because just this semester the access to the university library was restricted, which does not simplify the search for literature.
Thank you Tobias for your time!
Tamina is currently writing her bachelor thesis at the Chair of Private Business Law with Prof. Dr. Jochen Hoffmann and has also agreed to answer a few questions:
Tamina, how did you come up with your topic?
Since I knew that I would like to write my bachelor thesis at the chair of private commercial law, I started to inform myself a bit about this topic, both on Google and through publications on the chair’s homepage etc.. Subsequently, I worked out the most interesting and current topics for me, e.g. in my case on the basis of recent court decisions. Afterwards, I briefly presented the topics in a personal meeting with Prof. Dr. Hoffmann and we quickly came to an agreement which was the most interesting for us.
How long did it take you to create your outline?
Creating the outline was actually a laborious process, because before I started writing the paper, I was not really aware of how exactly to formulate the headings and how they should best be arranged in order to present a meaningful structure. The first outline, which I also handed in, took about 2-3 weeks, however, during my writing process, it was continuously modified. I think the outline is only meant to provide a first overview and will inevitably become more precise as I write.
What literature do you use and did you buy books especially for the bachelor thesis?
Since my bachelor thesis is written in a private commercial law framework, I have mostly judgments and legal commentaries as literature. I have gained access to these either through the Juridicum in Erlangen or through online portals, such as “beck-online” or “juris”, which are provided by the FAU databases. However, I was also able to download some books online as PDFs from the economics branch library of WiSo. However, I did not have to purchase a physical book.
Did you already have a phase in which you thought nothing was going forward?
In fact, there was only a moment at the very beginning when I was not sure how to start the work, whether I should start directly with the introduction or already within a section. I then decided to start with the introduction, and once I found a suitable start for my paper, the writing process went on throughout.
If so, how did you overcome this period?
I did a lot of research regarding the structure and content of an introduction and thought about which introduction would be suitable for my work. Furthermore, I set a deadline for myself, on which I actually started writing.
Do you still come to study or does the bachelor thesis determine your everyday life?
Over the holidays, the writing of the bachelor thesis was actually very present, I wanted to make as much progress as possible in this lecture-free time. In doing so, I was also able to get more involved with the other two modules I’m taking this semester. Now that lectures and tutorials are taking place again and exams are coming up soon, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to fit it all into everyday life. That’s why I’m setting up weekly schedules in which I plan the bachelor thesis as well as the exam preparations, and so far I’m managing quite well with that.
In retrospect, are you satisfied with your choice of topics?
I must say that I am still very satisfied with my chair and the topic of my thesis, I think I have made the right choice for me. I can only advise you to create your own topic and not necessarily to fall back on topics given to you in advance by the chairs. In doing so, one gets a first insight into the topic already during the research and usually has more interest in it, also during the writing process.
Thank you for your time, Tamina!
The application process varies from chair to chair, so it is advisable to start looking for your Bachelor thesis in time. Not every bachelor thesis is directly supervised by a professor but often by a research assistant of the chair. Depending on the size of the respective chair, the number of theses offered varies, of course. In addition, each department has its own deadlines and subject-specific modalities, so it is always worth comparing them.
By the way, the supervising chair registers the Bachelor thesis at the examination office. At this point, the title of the thesis must be fixed and cannot be changed. From this point on, there are nine weeks until the thesis must be submitted to the Examinations Office in double-bound form as well as in electronic form. Sufficient time should also be planned for printing and binding.
We wish all Bachelor students good luck in finding a topic and in writing their thesis.
All information regarding the submission of the thesis can be found in the Bachelor Examination Regulations (§ 30).