Master's thesis guidelines

This page describes general guidelines for the Master's thesis project in the MBI programme. The instructions presented here are still tentative, and may change in the future. Guidelines given by individual departments may overrule instructions given here - please refer to your supervisors regarding how you should complete your thesis.

Recommended duration of the project

We recommend that you spend a maximum of six months on your thesis and plan your schedule accordingly.

The necessary steps

  1. Get a thesis topic and at least two supervisors (HY) or one supervisor (TKK).
    • One of the supervisors has to be a professor, others have to have at least PhD. At least one your supervisors has to be from MBI (see this list).
    • In addition, you need at least one instructor, who can be also your supervisor.
    • Your instructors will both counsel you during the thesis project and review your thesis.
    • Decide with your supervisors the department where you are going to write your thesis to (CS/HY, MathStat/HY, CS/TKK)
    • Thesis topic is approved by professor-in-charge.
    • The thesis topic must be selected from the field of bioinformatics, and it must belong to the area of expertise of the instructors in the MBI programme.
  2. Write an application for MSc thesis subject. Use this form for a HY thesis. TKK thesis form will be added here later.
    • Include a topic definition (1-2 pages) to the application. Outline the basic ideas of the research hypothesis, approach and methods. Include a couple of central literature references in the definition - remember to refer to them from the definition text!
    • Hand in the application form, topic definition and an up-to-date (unofficial) transcript of studies to your supervisors and instructors.
  3. Write a research plan
    • Length: Approximately 20 pages (see the document template below)
    • Note: in TKK theses, research plan is typically not a separate part from the MSc thesis itself. Discuss with your supervisor about the research plan.
    • Research plan should contain a literature survey. Ideally, this survey will comprise the first few chapters of your final thesis.
    • The plan should also contain a list of most important references that you are going to use in the final thesis.
    • Planned table of contents of the final thesis. For each section that you have not written as a part of the research plan, give
      • Tentative contents (briefly)
      • Estimate of section length in pages
      • Deadline for completition
    • Hand in the research plan to your supervisors and instructors.
    • Give a presentation on your research plan in the MSc thesis seminar
    • Use the following template to write the research plan (HY only): LaTeX, Open Office. If possible, use LaTeX: the time spent to learn the system is definitely worth the ease of editing large documents, maintaining a consistent style and handling references.
  4. Write the thesis
    • Length: Most good theses fall within 50-70 pages. Unjustified deviations may affect the grade.
    • Use the above template to write the final thesis.
    • See below for instructions on the thesis contents.
    • Give a presentation on the final thesis in the MSc thesis seminar
  5. What to do when you have written your thesis
  6. Maturity exam: if you have not taken a maturity exam in your Bachelor's degree, you need to take it before graduation. You should agree with our supervisors when and where you should take the exam. These instructions regarding the maturity test are taken from the guidelines of the Department of Computer Science:
    • The subject of the maturity test is taken from the thesis. It can be the title of the whole thesis, a chapter or section title, or some theme or problem from the thesis.
    • The supervisor sets the subject and delivers it to the department office in good time before the test in a sealed envelope addressed to the student and with the date of the exam on it.
    • You may not bring any written material to the test.
    • The recommended length of the maturity test is one exam paper, ie four pages, with broad margins, written on each line with neat handwriting, with a pencil.
    • The text should be plain. A small amount of mathematical symbols is allowed. The subject matter should be exact.
    • Please pay special attention to the language. It must be faultless. The text should be parsed into paragraphs. The goal is a matter-of-fact essay with an introduction, a discussion and a conclusion.

Useful advice

Where to get a topic of the thesis?

Grading of the Master's thesis

At the University of Helsinki, MSc thesis grades are the following, with laudatur being the best and approbatur being the worst passing grade:

  1. laudatur (l)
  2. eximia cum laude approbatur (ecl)
  3. magna cum laude approbatur (mcl)
  4. cum laude approbatur (c)
  5. non sine laude approbatur (nsla)
  6. lubenter approbatur (b)
  7. approbatur (a)

Grading guidelines will be added here later.

Contents of the thesis

To be added. See below for examples of completed theses.

Examples of completed theses

You can browse University of Helsinki E-thesis if you want to access completed Master's theses. For an example Master's thesis in bioinformatics, see
Marko Laakso, Computational Identification of Recessive Mutations in Cancers using High Throughput SNP-arrays, 2007.