Final Exam and Thesis
All Master's degree programmes at Czech universities are completed by a Final State Examination. Unlike the equivalent exam at many English-speaking universities, at the Faculty of Social Sciences the final exam is always an oral examination – instead of writing a paper or answering questions in writing, you will be expected to undertake an oral (spoken) defence of your thesis, as well as answering oral questions from your examiners.
Final exams are generally held twice per year, at the end of each semester (late January/early February and June). Students are examined individually by a committee of three or more examiners. Each exam lasts about 40-45 minutes.
The composition of the examination committee
The Examination Committee is made up of a minimum of three academics, and the composition is as follows:
- The Head of the Programme (always present).
- Two other professors from the Programme
- An external examiner (sometimes, but not always present).
- Your Thesis Opponent (sometimes, but not always present).
- Occasionally, an additional professor may be invited as a guest.
In addition, an exam administrator will be present, generally the programme assistant. The administrator is not part of the Examination Committee. S/he does not ask any questions and does not award any grades. His/her role is simply to ensure that administrative procedures run smoothly.
What happens at the Final State Exam?
The Final State Examination breaks down into three parts: the Thesis Defence, and two additional questions relating to topics from the programme.
The Thesis Defence lasts about 15-20 minutes. As part of the defence you will be expected to speak briefly about the main points of your thesis, and to answer questions from your examiners. Clearly, given that you will be summarising your own work, it is perfectly acceptable for you to prepare what you are going to say in advance (indeed, it is advisable to do so). However, you cannot take previously prepared notes for the examination.
For the two additional questions, early in the last semester, you will be issued with a list of about 35 broad thematic topics from the programme, on which the final exam will be based. These are the topics you should revise when you prepare for the exam.
At the exam itself, you will be asked to draw two topics (of the 35) out of a hat, and you will then be given approximately 30 minutes to prepare some comments on the topics you have selected. When your 30 minutes are up, you will be invited to speak to the committee, who will first of all hear your thesis defence, and then your comments on the two topics. Your comments on each topic should take about 10 minutes, and the examiners may ask you additional questions and/or ask you to expand on any points they feel lack clarity.
During this part of the exam, including the 30-minute preparation period, you are allowed to make notes, and you are allowed to take any notes you have made on the spot into the examination. However, you are not allowed to use any books during the preparation period, or any notes you have made previously, or any electronic sources (Wi-Fi, tablet, smartphone, etc.).
Administrative procedures before taking the Final State Exam
Please note that there are a number of administrative steps you must take before you will be allowed to proceed to the Final State Exam. They are:
Upload an electronic copy of your Master's Thesis in a ".pdf" format to SIS and deliver two bound copies of your Master's Thesis to the relevant Institute secretariat (either Jinonice or Opletalova building) by the appropriate deadline.
Online registration for final state exams, i.e. register for final state exams including your thesis defence via SIS – see the detailed instructions here.
Only students of Economics – namely programmes BEF and MEF in old accreditation, i.e. students enrolled till 2018 (academic year 2017/2018) fill in the Application Form for the Final State Examination, and deliver it to relevant Institute secretariat together with your thesis. You will need two copies of the Application form.
Check with the Student Services Officer whether your professors have recorded all your grades from all the classes you have taken, and if they have not, take steps in good time to get the missing grades recorded.
Your participation in the exam is conditional on your fulfilling all four of these steps.
Preparing your Master's thesis
Preparing and submitting the final thesis is guided by Dean's Provision No. 29/2010: Rules for Filing, Submitting and Publishing of Final Theses.
The Master's Thesis is an extended piece of original academic writing, with which students are expected to complete their studies. Students have some flexibility in their choice of thesis topic. Generally, a thesis topic that falls into any of the main subject areas of the programme will be acceptable, though individual thesis proposals are subject to the approval of the Head of the programme.
Although the final thesis must be your own work, each individual student will be assigned an academic who will advise and guide you in your research, especially in the early stages of the thesis. This is the Thesis Supervisor, you are encouraged to identify and propose a potential supervisor from amongst the regular teachers of the programme, according to your own interests. Your choice of supervisor is, however, subject to the approval of the Head of the programme.
Preparing and submitting your thesis is a two-stage process:
- First of all, in the very early stages of your thesis, and certainly no later than 12 months before you intend to graduate, you are expected to submit a simple 2-4 page outline of your proposed thesis, for preliminary approval by the Head of the programme. This is the so-called Thesis Project (see below for further details), and you will not be allowed to submit a final thesis unless you have previously submitted and received approval for the project.
- The thesis itself is submitted in the final semester of your studies, generally a few weeks before the date of the final exam. See below for further details of the formal requirements.
The exact deadlines for submitting your thesis project and your final thesis will vary slightly from year to year, but you will always find them in the current Academic Calendar of the university. Generally, we will also send an announcement to your mailing list.
As a rough guide, the basic timeline is as follows, but please remember to check for specific deadlines:
- If you plan to graduate in the summer (June): submit the project in May/June of the year before you intend to graduate, submit the final thesis in May.
- If you plan to graduate in the spring (February): submit the project in January/February of the year before you intend to graduate, submit the final thesis in January.
Formal requirements for the Thesis project
The thesis project is a preliminary outline of your proposed thesis, which must be submitted at least one year before the thesis itself (see above). Generally, it is about 2-4 pages in length, and it must include:
- The proposed title of your thesis
- The name of your supervisor
- A short outline of your proposed line of argument (including potential chapters) and the methodology you plan to use
- A bibliography of your main sources, relating to both the content and the methodology of the thesis
At this early stage, we do not expect you to go into any particular detail, but the text should be sufficiently well developed, so we can tell what your main topic is, how you plan to structure the text, and what sources you plan to use.
The project is subject to the approval of the Head of the programme, who may ask you to revise your proposal if he thinks this is necessary. It is therefore advisable to secure the approval of the programming head before you start writing in earnest.
Formal requirements for the Master's thesis
The thesis proper is submitted in the final semester of your studies before you proceed to the final Master's exam (see above). When preparing your thesis, please remember that:
- Your thesis is an original piece of academic writing and must fulfil all the usual standards of an academic text (bibliography, attribution of sources, etc).
- The text must be submitted in standard manuscript format. Use a plain font (Times New Roman or Arial), point size 12, line spacing 1.5 or 2.
- The minimum length of the thesis is 70 standard manuscript pages, excluding supplements. For the purposes of calculating the length of the thesis, a standard manuscript page is taken to be 1800 keystrokes long (including spaces). Most modern word-processing packages will calculate this for you (in MS Word, use the "Word Count" menu). Pages should be numbered.
- Every student must submit two printed hard copies of the thesis, plus one electronic copy on CD. The hard copies must be bound (ask for a list of binders).
Contents of the thesis
Every thesis must contain the following (in this order):
- Title page in standard format
- The original Project of your Master's Thesis, as described above, signed and approved by the Head of the programme
- A Declaration that the thesis is your own work, signed and dated by yourself
- A Contents List
- The main text of the thesis itself
- A Conclusion
- A 1-page Abstract summarising the contents of the thesis
- Full bibliography and citations
Oral defence of the thesis
As part of your final exam, you will be expected to undertake an oral defence of your thesis. Prior to that, it will be independently assessed by an academic other than your thesis supervisor, who will submit a written report on the quality of the thesis. This academic is the so-called Thesis Opponent, who will also generally be present at the oral defence, and his/her report will be available in advance of the final exam. Please make sure you get a copy and read it, and prepare yourself in advance to react to his/her comments during the thesis defence.
For further details of the oral defence and other aspects of the final oral exam.
Further information about the formal requirements for the Master's thesis is also included in the Rules for the Organisation of Studies of the university, and in Dean's Provision No. 3/2006, which forms a supplement to those rules.