Master Thesis

Examples of these research subjects are accessible for

The master's thesis can be seen as the masterpiece by which the student shows being worth the MSc degree of Civil Engineering. It is a voluminous assignment, which must be accomplished individually, independently, within the planned time period and finally it must have a sufficient quality.

You may only start with the master’s thesis after completion and submission of the Application Form Start MSc Thesis. The thesis coordinator should have received this form from the Board of Examiners signed for agreed.

The thesis work starts with the choice of a subject, for which various routes are open. First, you have to identify the most interesting discipline for you of Transport & Planning. That may coincide with one of the four areas of the department, being Infrastructure planning, Transportation modelling, Infrastructure design, and Dynamic traffic management. However, you can also use one of the analysis techniques as the basis of your research, such as spatial development, data collection and analysis, model development, system analysis, functional and operational design, management and control.

Based on the choice of a MSc project description offered by the research groups or your own ideas, you have to contact a probable daily supervisor to collect further information and references related to the topic.

A Master’s thesis may be carried out at home, at a trainee place in practice, or in the thesis students room of the department. Each of these locations has its own pros and cons.

At home you have complete freedom in choosing your study hours and in organising your work according to your own wishes. However this requires strict working discipline.

At the trainee place and in the thesis students room of the department you have fixed working hours but you loose time for travelling. Another advantage is the proximity of information sources. Also, you may be offered help and motivation/inspiration by other master students involved in different projects. At a trainee place you must be aware of the more distant relation with the university. It requires discipline to have regular contact with your daily supervisor.

The thesis project starts with a project planning, to be laid down in a plan of work.  By reading literature and having discussions with your daily supervisor and other persons involved in your thesis subject, you have to get acquainted with the actual status of the research related to your subject. These activities must lead to the phrasing of the problem as well as of the targets and objectives. The next step is to limit the project. Beforehand, it looks like the problem might be solved completely, since you have six months available. Often, the problems appear to be more complicated or the different steps take more time than estimated in advance. Therefore, you have to make an elaborated time planning, to be approved by your supervisors.

Good time management prevents you from sticking at the first parts of your work and loosing time for the remainder.

You discuss the draft workplan with the corresponding professor who will chair the thesis committee and revise it if necessary. The MSc thesis is evaluated in a kick off meeting by the members of the thesis committee. The committee is chaired by the professor and further comprises the daily supervisor, another senior researcher from a different section, department or faculty and a graduated professional from outside the university (e.g. consulting firm, research institute, transport infrastructure manager, transport operator, public authority).

You prepare the kick-off meeting supported by the secretary of T&P. The members of the committee may give further comments on the draft work plan and then confirm the definitive work plan. This plan serves as a guide line for the candidate, as well as the supervisors. It may be adjusted during the period of work according to new insight. Please, make short reports of the thesis committee meetings and get them agreed (through email).

As soon as your thesis project is fixed and your thesis committee is complete you have to submit the Form Graduation Chart to the thesis coordinator.

The most frequent contact is with your daily supervisor. Roughly every two weeks you have a progress meeting with him, independent of the amount of progress. The meetings might provide you with extra inspiration, but an optimal result is only evident when you prepare your own opinions and questions. A meeting becomes more effective as well when you send a draft paper several days before the meeting. Contacts with the other committee members will be similar, but less frequent.

Part of the plan of work is also fixing two or three meetings with the complete thesis committee. These intermediate meetings are at strategic moments (e.g. at finishing the analysis and the presentation of the preliminary model or design, the evaluation of alternatives).

The committee meetings take place about every two months. You get comments on your work methods and (intermediate) results and evaluation of  your performance. In the last-but-one meeting you need the go-decision from the committee to prepare the final report and presentation.

The standard structure of the thesis report consists of the following parts:

  • Introduction
  • Problem statement
  • Theoretical background and literature review
  • Methodological approach
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Development and design of problem solutions
  • Simulation and evaluation
  • Conclusions

For the presentation, the members of the department and fellow students will be present, but also family and friends are welcome. The language of the report is English and for the presentation it is either Dutch or English.

The mark of the thesis is based on the following criteria:

A. Scientific Approach

  • Theoretical profundity
  • State of the art description and literature study
  • Scientific arguments (hypothesis testing)
  • Quality of experimental work or design
  • Creativity: new ideas

B. Quality of result/product

  • Scientific reflection and judgement
  • Utilisation of result / product
  • Extension / generation of methods
  • Quality of abstracts
  • Amount of work

C. Behavioural competencies

  • Initiative and / or own contribution
  • Responsibility
  • Communicative Skills
  • Independency

D. Quality of written presentation

  • Structure and consistency
  • Acknowledgement of sources / quotations
  • English proficiency

E. Quality of oral presentation and defence

  • Speaker quality
  • Clarity and structure of presentation
  • Quality of presentation material
  • Answering of questions