Degree project - Engineering
The MSc Engineering and two-year Master's programmes in Engineering include a degree project (30 credits) aimed to demonstrate the student's ability to independently apply the knowledge acquired during their studies.
Here you will find a brief overview of what the degree project involves.
1. Before starting a degree project
What is a degree project?
A degree project corresponds to approximately 20 weeks of full-time study. It is an important part of the study programme and, for many students, it is the most interesting and rewarding part of their studies, while also being demanding and challenging.
The degree project marks the end of the study programme and the start of the professional life. It is often executed in collaboration with companies and can lead to employment. It can also be done in collaboration with a department and serve as an entry point for a career in the academia.
The degree project is carried out independently by the student who develops specialised knowledge on an interesting issue within the chosen area. To investigate and analyse the issue the student shall integrate knowledge from many different courses and acquire new knowledge. The results shall be of interest to the client and to a wider audience.
The degree projects are normally carried out within the chosen specialisation. Information about what degree project topics have been approved in the programmes are available in the study handbook (Msc Engineering programmes) or online (two-year Master's programmes). In some cases, the degree project may be executed outside the student's specialisation. The student needs to have sufficient knowledge to produce a good project.
To start a degree project, you must have acquired sufficient knowledge on the topic of your work.
- MSc Engineering programmes
In order to start a degree project, students must have completed a minimum of 240 credits within the relevant programme, including at least 30-second cycle credits. In addition, students must have passed all compulsory courses within the basic block of the programme.
Students who began their studies prior to autumn 2012 are exempted from the requirements concerning the second cycle credits and of having passed all compulsory courses within the basic block.
- Two-year Master’s programmes in Engineering
To start their degree projects, students must have passed at least 60 credits in completed courses within the relevant programme.
- Master’s programme in Energy-Efficient and Environmental Building Design
Students must have passed at least 75 credits in completed courses within the programme before they can start their degree projects.
When should I start looking for a degree project placement?
It is advisable to start planning 3–4 months before beginning the project. Keep in mind that planning time might vary if the work is carried out at a division or department or at a company. If you are carrying out your degree project abroad, we recommend you start planning well ahead as it can take longer to find a project and they require more planning.
How can I find a degree project placement?
To find a degree project placement you can:
- Personally contact a company.
There are different ways to get in touch with companies. For example:
1. Via the career fair ARKAD or the company's contact information available online.
2. Via websites that list degree project openings, such as exjobbstips.se (in Swedish) or the Lund University career portal MyCareer at LU.
- Personally contact a department.
To contact a department you can talk to one of your lecturers or visit the department website. Some departments have a contact person for degree projects.
- Search LUP Student Papers to find out where previous degree projects have been conducted.
Please note that degree projects at companies or found on portals are not automatically approved by your department. Before starting the work, present the degree project to the department for approval from the examiner and principal supervisor.
Prior to choosing a degree project, consider the various types of constraints. Where and how will the project be carried out? Will you need to study and take exams in other courses while working on the project? Will you have access to your own workplace and computer? Another important factor is the commitment and availability of the supervisor(s). Personal motivation is the key to successfully completing a degree project, so you should carefully consider whether the proposed project is sufficiently interesting and challenging to devote half a year to it.
A degree project can be conducted independently by one student or in groups of two students. Both ways present of course advantages and disadvantages. Working alone gives you more control over the work, but you will not have a partner to discuss it with. Working together with someone will provide you with a constant sounding board, but you will have to devote some time to coordinate the work. Personal chemistry can be crucial, and the respective levels of ambition should be clarified prior to starting the work.
2. Initial phase
During the initial phase, you plan your degree project. The examiner, supervisor, and, where relevant, host company/organisation are also involved. Your prior knowledge is assessed and a document defining the goals of your project (see below) is to be drawn up. This includes a preliminary description of the background, context, overall objectives, and issues to be addressed in the degree project. When all involved parties agree on the content of the document, the degree project will be registered in Ladok.
Examiner and supervisor(s)
Every degree project must have an examiner appointed by the department at which the work is to be conducted and at least one supervisor.
- The examiner must have a doctoral degree and be employed by Lund University. They formally decide whether the student meets the requirements and whether the topic is relevant to the subject, for instance on the basis of the student's choice of elective courses. The examiner also makes the final assessment of the degree project, i.e. checks that all parts of the course have been completed in accordance with the current quality standards. Students carrying out the degree project in pairs are assessed individually. It is therefore important that the individual contributions are clearly discernible.
- The principal supervisor must be employed by Lund University and must either conduct third cycle studies (have a licentiate degree or be a doctoral student at the end of their PhD programme) or be an experienced teacher. The principal supervisor supports the student during the planning phase, ensures that the necessary resources are available, and offers expertise and knowledge about the degree project process to make sure that the project satisfies the course requirements. Please note that the department is generally only obligated to provide supervision for 12 months.
- Persons outside the University or with limited third cycle education—for example, an employee of the company where the degree project is carried out who can provide specific expertise—may be an assistant supervisor.
Procedure during the initial phase
- Before students can start their degree project the international coordinator of the programme must check their eligibility. This is to be indicated on the form Enrolment form–degree project.
- Subsequent to that, students must write a document that defines the goals of the degree project. The document must be approved by all supervisors and the examiner. In addition, the examiner must check whether the student has the necessary prior knowledge. This too is to be documented on the registration form.
- Once the document defining the goals of the degree project has been approved and the prior knowledge confirmed, the completed form is to be submitted to the international coordinator. The registration in Ladok will take place only at the very end of the phase.
Document defining the goals of the degree project
Before starting the degree project, students must write a document defining the goals of their project. The main purpose of the document is to ensure that the degree project has the potential to fulfil the requirements for a passing grade and that the students, supervisors, representatives from participating companies/organisations and the examiner are all in agreement, i.e. have shared expectations of the degree project and its results.
If the degree project is conducted in pairs, the students must write a joint document.
The document is typically one or two pages long and should include the following headings and questions:
- A working title, names and contact information of those involved, and preliminary start and end dates.
- Background/context and motivation for the degree project.
- Overall objectives and issues/research questions.
- Approach/methodology and methods.
- Disciplinary foundation and proven experience on which the degree project is to build. This could, for example, be described in the form of a couple of key references to articles or other reference documents.
- How is the degree project expected to contribute to the development of knowledge.
- Preliminary description of the resources required for the completion of the work, such as workplace and equipment, and how these are to be arranged and made available.
The document should be further developed into a project plan (see below). Large parts of the document can often be used as a basis for the degree project report.
The examiner and all supervisors must approve the document defining the goals of the degree project before the degree project is planned further and started. Among other things, approval means that
- the purpose and issue of the project are clearly stated
- the proposed project is deemed to have the potential to achieve the degree project objectives
- the project clearly relates to the relevant area and the elective courses that the student(s) has/have studied.
In this context, it might be worth reviewing the learning outcomes for the degree project in the course syllabus.
When is the initial phase complete?
The initial phase is complete when:
- the examiner and supervisor(s) for the degree project have been appointed
- the student’s general eligibility has been confirmed
- the document defining the goals of the degree project has been completed and approved by the examiner and all supervisors
- the examiner has confirmed that the student has the necessary prior knowledge
- the degree project is registered in Ladok
3. Planning phase
In the planning phase, the document defining the goals of the degree project is developed into a plan for the execution of the degree project.
Planning is an important part of any major work, and a degree project is no exception. You can use the document which defines the goals of the degree project as a framework for the project plan.
The project plan describes the content, delimitations, and methodology of the project and sets a timetable. To facilitate the management and monitoring of the project, the work should be divided into stages with corresponding meetings with supervisors. A degree project shall correspond to 20 weeks of full-time study. This time limit is not strictly applied but it can serve as a point of reference. It is also important to consider any potential competing activities, such as the student(s) conducting parallel studies and supervisors taking extended business trips.
It is also useful to agree on the type of supervision and to clarify the expectations of supervisors and students at an early stage. While some prefer to have regularly scheduled meetings, others work better meeting only when needed. The project plan shall specify all meetings with the supervisors.
Remember to include in your planning the final stage activities, such as the critical review of a fellow student’s project and the presentation.
Keep in mind that planning is dynamic, not static. A good plan is flexible, update it regularly discussing the changes with the principal supervisor.
When is the planning phase completed?
The planning phase is completed once the planning of the degree project is drawn. It is highly recommended that students write the project plan and that it is approved by the main supervisor.
4. Execution phase
During the execution phase, students conduct the investigation, data collection, analysis, etc. according to their plan, and report on these activities in a degree project report.
To prepare for the final presentation of the degree project, it is recommended that students also participate in two other degree project presentations.
During the final stage of execution, the student must also write a popular science summary. Below you will find some practical information about information retrieval, how to write a report, etc.
The degree project also includes the critical review of a fellow student’s work—both orally and in writing. The purpose of the critical review is to learn how to assess an advanced engineering study and to provide objective criticism. It is recommended that this takes place before the student has completed their own report, as it will help clarify potential pitfalls. It can, therefore, be included in the execution phase (further details about the critical review process below).
All elements that are to be assessed shall be compiled in the form Summary of activities. It is recommended that you print out the form at an early stage not to forget any important components. If the degree project is to be carried out over several semesters, it is also important that you contact the department so that the project is re-registered.
Documenting the project
The degree project is documented in a written report. To keep a good record of the activities throughout the project can help you in the reporting phase.
One way to document your work is to keep a diary where to record your activities. For example, if you are making measurements or larger numerical calculations, you can document the conditions or parameters that applied at that point, whether any special circumstances occurred or similar. This can be helpful if it later turns out that there are oddities in the results that cannot be explained in a simple way, and it might prevent having to repeat a trial session.
The degree project shall conclude with a written report describing the project and its results. It must be written in English or Swedish. If the degree project is carried out in pairs, the report must clearly indicate the contribution of each student. Degree projects must not contain any confidential information and the assessment must not be based on information that is not public, since copyright law allows others to refer to and quote degree projects, as well as copy for private use.
The general design of the report should be discussed at a relatively early stage. It is likely to change during the process and this needs to be taken into account when planning the timeline.
The Academic Support Centre at Lund University can help by discussing the text or the research assignment. They offer individual tutoring and short courses in study techniques, academic writing, and public speaking. They can also provide help to students who are not Swedish native speakers.
Structure of the report
Find out if your department has any guidelines with regard to the report format and if there is a template. It is also important to know the format in which the report will be printed, for example the size of the margins, whether the page numbers should be on the right or the left side, if the report shall be printed in colour or black/ white.
The report must be well structured. One example of a suitable format is:
- Abstract (in English): A brief summary of approximately 250 words. Note that this is mandatory, and must be written in English and preferably also in Swedish.
- Preface: Explaining when, where, and why the project was carried out, and thanking those who helped.
- Table of contents.
- Introduction: short background, issue and aim, as well as the structure of the report.
- Methodology: theories, tools, etc., that were applied in the project.
- Discussion and conclusion: reflection on whether the aim was fulfilled, and on the opportunities for further development. Critical review and discussion of the results.
- References: In order to enable the reader to review the project and go to the original sources on which the material is based, the report needs a good reference list. Continuously filling in the reference list can save you a lot of time compared to doing everything at the end.
Read more on referencing.
- Appendices: extensive data material that is relevant to the work, but too large to incorporate into the text, can be included in an appendix.
The graphic design
It is better to concentrate more on the content of the report than on the design. Customise the layout to fit the content rather than the other way around.
Remember that cross-references (for example, a reference to Figure 3) may change during the writing process, when you might need to swap figures. Some programs will automatically adjust such matters.
Prior to printing the degree project report, think one step ahead. Which pages will end up on the left vs. the right side, are the margins large enough, does the text have the correct font size, is the quality of the images sufficient for them to be copied, shall the report/images be printed in colour or black/white, etc.
Popular science summary
It is mandatory to produce a separate popular science summary. Whether or not to include the separate summary in the printed report is optional.
The degree project also involves critically reviewing a fellow student’s project, both orally and in writing. The written critical review must be submitted to the author of the project and the author’s examiner at the presentation seminar.
The review must be certified by the examiner of the reviewed project by filling in the form Summary of activities (for MSc in Engineering and two-year Master’s programmes).
The purpose of the critical review is to learn how to examine an advanced engineering study and provide objective criticism. It is an advantage if the topic is situated within your own area of interest. We recommend that you attend some presentations before you review other projects.
The role of the critical reviewer is to critically review the degree project and the presentation of it as well as to contribute to a constructive discussion about the project. The critical reviewer’s questions are to lead to a discussion that addresses, among other things, the practical and theoretical relevance of the degree project, the balance between the different parts of the work, the methodological awareness and readability. The critical review is to conclude with an overall assessment mentioning the main strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement in the project. The following questions can be used as support when conducting a critical review:
- Are objectives, issues and limitations clear and relevant?
- Is the methodology well described and is the choice of method appropriate?
- Is it clear what parts are results of the degree project and what parts come from other sources?
- Are the arguments for claims, interpretations and conclusions well-founded, logical, convincing and credible?
- Are the conclusions reasonable in relation to the content, methodology and results of the project?
- Do conclusions and results fulfil the aims and objectives of the project?
- How does the project take into account relevant societal and ethical aspects?
- Is the language used correctly and adapted to the target audience?
- Is the report logically structured and are the tables and diagrams illustrative and comprehensible?
- Are the sources and references to related work relevant and well described? Are important references missing or are unnecessary references included?
- Are there points that are unclear in the project?
- What could be improved and what could have been done differently?
During the seminar, you should concentrate on the broad outlines of the report and the questions of principle, alternative issues, or similar. Detailed comments about spelling, punctuation, layout, etc. can be communicated directly to the author of the project outside the context of the seminar, for example, by handing over your notes.
Not all presented works are required to have critical reviewers.
When is the execution phase completed?
For the execution phase to be completed:
- the main supervisor has assessed that the report has reached the stage when it is ready to be presented and critically reviewed and thus schedules a date for the final seminar
- the popular science summary has been completed
- the critical review of a fellow student’s work has been scheduled or completed (see above)
5. Concluding phase
In the concluding phase, the degree project is presented at a public seminar at LTH. Taking into consideration the opinions of the critical reviewer, supervisors and examiner, the student(s) will then make the final adjustments to the report and submit it for grading.
If the student has not yet carried out a critical review, this should also be done in this phase
The popular science summary is to be completed and, finally, both the article and the passed report are to be uploaded in LUP Student Papers. The report is to be filed by the department. All steps must be completed and ticked off in the form that summarises all degree project activities. Once completed, this form shall be submitted to the department that will mark the degree project as passed in Ladok.
The report is presented orally at a public seminar at LTH.
Students may present their degree projects from 15 August until and including the Monday during Midsummer week, with the exception of the dates between 22 December and 6 January.
The main supervisor often convenes the seminar. The report must be available in a reviewable version at least one week before the seminar. Discuss with your supervisor how the seminar will be planned, for example with regard to the amount of time for the presentation, critical review, and questions.
Most presentations are held in the form of lectures using computers and projectors as aids, so the following advice is primarily focused on such presentation techniques.
- Analyse your audience. Consider how much of your project they have seen before, and at what level you should present it in order for your message to get through. Spend some extra time explaining the issue; most people will probably only have seen the title of your project.
- Do not attempt to present everything you have done. Concentrate on the major features; choose the most important contributions and explain them in a good way. Refer to the written report for any details.
- Any visual aids you choose to show must be clear and explanatory. Avoid formulas and complicated diagrams. Large size text helps to keep the amount of information down.
- Practise beforehand – on your own and in front of friends. Inspect the premises in advance to figure out whether your visual aids can be seen from the back of the room, the lighting situation, how loud you must be in order for everyone to hear you, what pointing devices are available, where it is appropriate for you to stand, and how you will be able to move.
- One piece of advice for future presentations is to study other speakers. Try to analyse what makes their presentation successful or not, and use the methods that you like and that suit you.
After the seminar, consider the comments of your peer reviewers, supervisors, examiner and, where relevant, other members of the audience, and update your report into a final version.
Your degree project must include the following five components in order for it to receive a passing grade:
- A document defining the goals of the degree project
- An oral and written critical review at a seminar at which a fellow student’s degree project is presented.
- A presentation at a public seminar at LTH.
- A written report in English or Swedish, and a summary in English.
- A separate popular science summary.
The available grades for a degree project are Pass or Fail. In both cases, the grade shall be entered into Ladok.
Prior to printing the degree project report, please contact your department to find out what rules apply, in terms of the number of copies, etc.
Make sure that the report has a format suitable for printing, for example, that the margins are the right size, that the page numbers are aligned correctly on the left or right side, what the report looks like when printed in colour vs. black/white.
The final degree project shall be registered in LUP Student Papers – the Lund University database of theses and student papers. Here you can enter information about your degree project and upload the completed report in full text. The service also includes a search function. LUP is part of Uppsök – the national search engine for degree projects. If you wish to upload your degree project in LUP, contact your department.
You can specify in LUP how visible your report should be. Students should consult with their supervisors which option is appropriate. It is worth noting that regardless of the selected level of visibility, the report will be considered a public document and must therefore not contain confidential information.
The popular science summary may also be uploaded in LUP, if it is not part of the report document. There is a field in LUP to enable inclusion of the popular science summary in text format.
Once the degree project has been presented, the student(s) should have an evaluative discussion with their examiner.
Once you have completed your project, you will have the opportunity to respond to a questionnaire about the degree project process. This will help us better the degree projects at LTH.
When is the concluding phase complete?
The concluding phase is completed when the examiner has approved:
- the oral presentation
- the written report
- the popular science summary
- the critical review
The examiner must confirm that all other obligations of the student(s) have been fulfilled, and register it in Ladok.
Bear in mind that if the degree project is the last step in your degree programme, it is time to apply for your degree certificate.