Master Thesis, the final seminar represents the last step of the semester, and thus, of these 2 years within the SMIO program. As discussants, the aim of the final seminar is to critically scrutinize a thesis and bring out both strengths and weaknesses through dialogue a dialogue with its authors. The authors should have the opportunity to shine and show off their great knowledge by answering both intelligent and tricky questions.
A usual thesis is 70 to 100 page-long, which gives enough room for questions and comments from the opponents to the authors.
The final seminar was structured as the following:
- The authors have 2 min. to point out critical mistakes they have discovered after printing the thesis (as forgetting a 'not' in a sentence which completely changes the message).
- The opponents hold a 10 min. presentation of the authors' thesis. As the audience is supposed to have read the thesis as well, it is basically a concise summary to show how it has been understood. It is customary to ask the authors if the presentation did their work justice or if they would like to add something (approx. 2 min.).
- Then, the discussion/defense begins and lasts 45 min. The discussants lead the seminar, ask questions (big and important issues, first; small details come if there is time left), initiate discussions, point-out strengths and weaknesses in the thesis, and invite comments from the audience. The authors should answer the questions, explain their reasoning, and show extensive understanding. The discussants normally end their section by giving some sort of judgment of the qualities of the author's thesis.
- The advisor and co-examiner have the word for 15 min. to give an overall judgment of the thesis as well as the defense and they can ask some final questions if needed.
- The opponents give to the authors a 5 pages-long hand-out with all their comments and questions. Additionally, the opponents can also provide the authors with the annotated manuscript if desired.
- Once all the defenses are held (over two and a half days), all advisors will convene and discuss the quality of the theses and decide upon the final grades.
This 1h15 final seminar is the place to shine for the authors. It is a final test of explanation. Discussions can even go beyond the thesis' borders. Although some of the groups exchanged their questions beforehand, including the audience in the discussion bring criticism and make the discussions more alive.
I personally enjoyed defending my thesis. Mario and I had the chance to show our understanding of the concepts we used, the reasons behind it and to open-up for further research as well as implications for the existing theories. We received really good feedback from the supervisor Marie Bengtsson and co-examiner Jonas Söderlund, thus we are expecting a decent grade reflecting their opinions :)
Overall, this Master Thesis was a good experience. Quite stressful when nothing work out as planned, of course, but it helped us to understand the situation that expert engineers encounter in their daily project work! I very much enjoyed the process of research and discovery. I learned a lot during these four months, included myself. I am also very grateful to Mario, he is a dedicated hard worker with the ability to combine different abstract concepts and think them through. It was definitely a good partnership and I sincerely hope that we have more opportunities to work together in the future.