Fun with Theses

By Hans van Deursen

As most of you are probably aware, at the end of UCU everyone has to write a thesis – a large research essay on a topic of your choosing. To introduce this last hurdle of UCU academics to us, the Academic Student Council (ASC) holds an annual Thesis event. But does this event really help students with their thesis orientation?

This year the event was held on November 19th and consisted of two main parts. The first part was a general presentation, introducing the thesis by describing the procedure, explaining what it is like to write a thesis in the different departments and giving notice of writing workshops by the UCU writing centre. The second part, where students could speak to the department fellows, was more in-depth and practical and mainly intended for third years.

Second year Milo van Bokkum says “Some good pointers were highlighted in the presentation on how to go about your thesis. Also, the presenters showed they knew how the students viewed the thesis, and addressed it appropriately, which was constructive.”

But the part in which three speakers spoke on theses in the three different departments “did not really work,” according to Milo. It made the presentations a bit repetitive, because they all had similar things to say.

Nicole van den Berg, a third year, adds to that by saying that such presentations are very general and straightforward. They are therefore not of much use for those who have already looked into what it is to write a thesis. For these people the second part of the event was more useful, in which Nicole felt she “received much individual attention.”

Inge Schrijver, ASC chair, recognises these points of criticism, and says “We might want to organise the three presentations on the different departments slightly differently in the future.” Although these presentations may sometimes be seen “as straightforward, they still serve as a reminder.” and can therefore function as an activation trigger to make people start thinking about their thesis.

All in all, the event was helpful, but not all presentations constructive. And although they might seem to be straightforward, lets hope that they at least got us thinking about our thesis!

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