Skip to content

Thesis process

On this page you will find tips, materials, and good practices for the different stages of the thesis process. Starting a thesis can seem challenging at first. If you break the process down into small enough chunks, the task no longer feels like such a big leap.

The thesis process can be divided into five parts

  1. Awakening
    This phase can be started as soon as you start your Master’s studies. However, the first stage should start at least one year before you start writing your thesis.
  2. Getting ready
  3. Beginning
  4. Work, work, work
  5. Wrapping it up

Have a good time with your thesis!

Each step is accompanied by a checklist of things that should all be done before moving on to the next step However, it is worth familiarising yourself with the checklists and the materials on this page in advance so that they do not come as a surprise. For more detailed explanations of the checklists and the contents of the slides, please refer to the videos.

You can also find the materials here!  

What are the different topics on which the students of Information Networks have written their theses? For examples you can go to Aalto Doc and Search Master’s Theses with search word “Informaatioverkostot”.


You can start the first stage as soon as you start your Master’s studies. However, you should start the first stage at least one year before you start writing your thesis.

#1 Awakening: I know what a thesis is and when to start mine

It’s a good idea to wake up to the idea of working on your dissertation at the beginning of your Master’s degree. The video explains how you should approach thesis work and what a thesis actually is.

Watch the first Thesis Talk going through the first phase of the process from the link below!

Checklist: Step #1

  • I know the difference between a supervisor & an advisor
  • I have checked the required bureaucracy for a master’s thesis.
  • I know that I can do the thesis at a work place, or get a grant, or do it without any pay.
  • I have an idea what a master’s thesis is and what it looks like.
  • I have skimmed over at least 5 master’s theses.
  • I have ideas of what themes or broad subjects I would like to study in the thesis.
  • I have a plan when to start thinking seriously about my master’s thesis.
  • I know the importance of methodology & methods.

#2 Getting ready: I hunt for a topic + adviser + supervisor…

At some point in their studies, every student has to think about starting a thesis. Watch this video for Risto’s tips on the process.

Watch the second Thesis Talk going through the second phase of the process from the link below!

Checklist: Part #2

  • I have a supervisor & we have a plan & schedule
  • I have 0-2 advisors & they know my plan & schedule
  • I have theme / rough topic to study & a clunky research question
  • I have an ugly and horrible title of the work
  • I know what “methodology” means in a thesis
  • I know the typical structure of a thesis
  • I have skimmed over 3-5 theses relevant to my topic or methodology.
  • I have decided whether I want a salary from my thesis work
  • I know the official submission deadlines for theses
  • I know the official requirements for graduation
  • I know the common pitfalls of thesis work

5 though ones, checklist:

  • I know what I want from a thesis & effort & what salary.
  • Supervisor agreed.
  • Advisor(s) agreed.
  • Theme or study area or dataset about clear.
  • What is your literature.

Note! Only the first two Thesis Talks currently have materials in English, sorry for the inconvenience!

#3 Beginning: All ready. Project plan, TOC, time, resources, and support….

Checklist: Part #3

  • I have a good table of contents, 1st level and 2nd level headings.
  • I have good enough research question (not perfect, though).
  • I have an idea of the literature and key terms, and how to structure them.
  • I ‘m ready for my empirical part: what to look for and what kind of answers I’ll get.
  • I can explain my thesis in a nutshell over a cup of coffee.
  • I can point the difficulties & risks in my own thesis work.
  • I have revised my schedule & plans at least once.
  • I have found 2-3 theses that are similar to mine (thematically or methodologically)
  • I have a good guess of what my results will be and what it implies
  • I’m ready to submit my thesis topic
  • I have a routine in getting supervision & advising (meetings booked).

#4 Work, work, work: Doing it, losing focus, finding focus, stress, insights, fun…

Checklist: Part #4

  • My table of contents is 90% ready.
  • My research question is solid, some tweaking needed though.
  • My supervisor is happy with my literature / background.
  • I’m mostly done with my empirical part. Maybe some analysis to be done.
  • I can explain my thesis in my sleep. In 2 minutes.
  • I’m not going to underestimate the time required to finalize things, especially working with the results & conclusions & discussions.
  • My submission deadline most probably won’t change. I check my plans.
  • I know what my results are but I have way too much of them.
  • I have booked final review times with my supervisor and advisors, and I have enough time to make changes after them.
  • I’ve seriously considered taking 4-7 days off before the final stretch.

#5 Wrapping it up: All empirical stuff done, focus ok, time to write it up…

Checklist: Part #5

  • I’ve submitted my thesis.
  • I’ve notified my supervisor and sent them the submitted version.
  • I’ve given the thesis talk (at work or elsewhere).
  • I have long ago confirmed my thesis topic.