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Master's Thesis in Business Administration III, 30 Credits

Swedish name: Masteruppsats i företagsekonomi III

This syllabus is valid: 2022-10-31 and until further notice

Course code: 2FE401

Credit points: 30

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Business Administration: Second cycle, contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (120 credits)

Grading scale: Three-grade scale

Responsible department: Business Administration

Revised by: Rector of Umeå School of Business and Economics, 2022-09-29


The objective of the Master's thesis is to develop the student's ability to conduct an academic study of relevance to research in the area of Business Administration. Through the thesis work, the student shall demonstrate an ability to plan, conduct and present a thorough scientific study of relevance to the area of the Master's program. The thesis' contribution should rest upon clearly evaluated and motivated standpoints. Furthermore, the student shall demonstrate good knowledge of the chosen research area and be able to position the study with regard to extant research in the field.

Module 1. Work-in-progress seminars, 0 credits
The module comprises three work-in-progress seminars. The work-in-progress seminars develop the student's ability to review and analyze scientific studies and reports.  The three seminars focus on the following areas:

  • Seminar 1. Oral and written examination of a prior Master's Thesis. The written examination must follow the guidelines for the side-opposition.
  • Seminar 2. Development of research questions and choice of theoretical points of departure.
  • Seminar 3. Presentation of the theoretical framework and research method. (The seminar is based on a draft of the introductory, theory and method chapters, including the planned data collection approach and a plan for the continued work). The seminar should be held before the collection of empirical data commences.

At seminar 2 and 3, the students are expected to present drafts of different parts of their Master thesis and to review other students' thesis drafts. Seminar 2 and 3 are thus opposition seminars.

Module 2. Side-opposition, 0 credits
The module includes one written side-opposition of another Master's thesis, and active participation at the seminar where the thesis is defended. The side-opposition is an individual assignment. The side-opposition shall demonstrate the student's ability to identify strengths and weaknesses of a thesis and to present proposals on how to rectify such weaknesses.

Module 3: Master's Thesis, 30 credits
This module constitutes the core of the course and develops the student's ability to, at an advanced level, examine a topic within the area of Business Administration of relevance to the Master's program. The students shall identify, formulate and motivate the thesis topic within the theoretical field. This may include applying theories and models in new areas, or to use new methods for data collection and analysis. The authors should thus make a contribution to the literature within a specific literature field or problem area.

The thesis shall include a thorough literature review that positions the thesis within a relevant theoretical frame of reference. The theoretical frame of reference shall demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the area. The literature review shall provide evidence of the student's ability to independently review and evaluate the literature. The choice of research methods should be well-founded, and the student's methodological and theoretical choices should demonstrate awareness of how researchers have approached similar questions in earlier studies. The research method should be clearly connected to the problem area and be consistent throughout the thesis. The thesis should provide evidence of systematic processing and analysis of the theoretical and empirical material. The level of abstraction in the analytical discussion should be high. The arguments in the thesis should be consistent and the various parts of the thesis must be coherent. The length of the thesis is between 70 to 100 pages depending on the research area and applied method. The final thesis shall be defended at a seminar.

Module 4: Main Opposition, 0 credits
This module comprises a written opposition paper and oral opposition of another Master thesis. The students shall conduct a thorough review of another Master's thesis. The designated thesis should be presented within the same Master's program or, should particular circumstances dictate, a thesis from the student's minor subject. The written main opposition paper is an individual assignment. The oral main opposition is done together with the co-author.

Expected learning outcomes

After completing this course, the student should be able to:

  • independently identify a research topic in Business Administration and formulate a research question that furthers the knowledge within a specific field
  • conduct a thorough literature review and present a theoretical frame of reference that illustrates the position of the thesis within the theoretical field
  • convincingly argue for the chosen research method and demonstrate an ability to use advanced analytical methods applied in prior research
  • collect relevant and extensive empirical data material and analyze it using appropriate analytical methods
  • discuss the findings in connection to the theoretical frame of reference
  • draw conclusions with clarity and precision, considering scientific and managerial implications and develop proposals for future research
  • make judgements about the societal implications and ethical research aspects of relevance for the thesis
  • show insights into the possibilities and limitations of research in Business Administration related to the thesis topic
  • with precision, communicate the main arguments, contents and results of the study following academic procedures
  • defend the thesis at a seminar and critically examine other scientific studies orally and in writing.

Required Knowledge

90 credits with a minimum of 75 credits in Business Administration. 
82.5 credits within a two-year Master's Program at Umeå School of Business and economics of which a minimum of 52.5 credits in Business Administration on advanced level of which 30 credits core courses or equivalent. Previously completed courses must include studies of scientific methodology within business/social sciences corresponding to at least 7.5 credits, including both qualitative and quantitative methodology.

Form of instruction

The author's independence and responsibility is emphasised throughout the thesis work. Thus the supervisor's influence and control is reduced to create the necessary conditions for individual autonomy, creativity, and personal responsibility. The students should present drafts of the thesis manuscripts to the supervisor on at least three occasions during the thesis process. The dates for meetings with the supervisor are planned jointly with the supervisor. Supervision is only guaranteed during the first semester a student is registered for the course.

Examination modes

Examination takes place during specific periods each semester.

Module 1. Work-in-progress seminars, 0 credits
This part of the course is examined through participation in three compulsory work-in-progress seminars. The work-in-progress seminars are graded as pass or fail.

Module 2. Side-opposition, 0 credits
This module consists of one written side-opposition of another 30 credits Master's thesis. The written side-opposition is an individual assignment. In addition, attendance at the seminar where the thesis is defended is mandatory. The side-opposition is graded as pass or fail.
Module 3. Master's Thesis, 30 credits
The Master's thesis is examined through the authoring and defense of the thesis. The defense cannot take place until the student has receive the grade Pass on the work-in-progress seminars (module 1).  The Master's thesis is assessed and graded by a grading teacher and an examiner. The defense of the thesis is graded by the supervisor at the defense seminar.  The following grading system is used: Pass with distinction (Väl godkänd, VG), Pass (Godkänd, G) and Fail (Underkänd, U).
In case the Master's thesis is not accepted to enter the grading process, it may be revised on the supervisor's (or the grader's) instructions. In cases of revisions, the new version should be completed and delivered to the grading teacher within four weeks after the final seminar/or the date the request for revisions was announced.

Module 4. Main opposition, 0 credits
The examination is based on the student's analysis of another Master's thesis. The examination includes written and oral components. The oral opposition is conducted together with the co-author of the own thesis. The written main opposition is an individual assignment.  The main opposition is graded as pass or fail.

Rules and regulations concerning the writing of academic texts and correct referencing are applicable on all written assignments.

For the course as a whole, the following grading system is used: Pass with distinction (Väl godkänd, VG), Pass (Godkänd, G) and Fail (Underkänd, U).

Grades on the course are awarded when students have passed all examinations and compulsory course elements.

Disciplinary action may be taken against students who uses unauthorized help aids or in some other way tries to mislead on a test or when another type of task is being evaluated. Rules and regulations concerning the production of academic texts and correct referencing will be applicable to all written assignments. See instructions in the thesis manual, Thesis Writing in Business Administration. Systems for plagiarism detection may be used for control. In addition, Umeå University rules and regulations  for education and research applies.

Other regulations

The thesis and seminar assignments are written in English. 
The thesis is written jointly by two students.

It is not possible for two students who jointly write a thesis, to be registered for different types of theses (e.g. one student writing a Degree Project and the other a 2nd year Master's thesis).

Supervision is only guaranteed during the first semester a student is registered on the course, regardless of how often the student has met the supervisor.

The thesis course is a campus course, which implies personal presence for supervision, participation in seminars, and collaboration with a thesis partner.

For students following a Master's program, the thesis topic should be within the scope of this program. For further information, see descriptions for awarding degrees (in Marketing, Management etc.)

The length of the Master's thesis should typically ranges from 70-100 pages.

The empirical material on which the thesis is based should upon request be made available to the supervisor, main opponents and the graders in its original form (raw-data).

Students should complete their side-opposition before defending their own Master's thesis. The work-in-progress seminars must be completed before thesis defence.

The thesis seminar and the main opposition are normally held at the end of the course (usually the end of the semester). Students who do not finish their thesis in time are allowed to defend their thesis next seminar period.

When the grade has been set, archive copies of the completed thesis shall as soon as possible, and within 4 weeks, be submitted in digital form in the Diva system.

Exceptions from examination form as stated in the syllabus can be made for a student who has a decision on pedagogical support for disabilities. Individual adaptations of the examination form should be considered based on the student's needs. The examination form shall be adapted within the framework of the expected learning outcomes stated in the course syllabus. At the request of the student, the course responsible teacher, in consultation with the examiner, must promptly decide on the adapted examination form. The decision must then be notified to the student.

Academic credit transfer
Academic credit transfers are according to the University credit transfer regulations.


Valid from: 2022 week 44

Course literature

Module 1

Readings may be assigned by the supervisor or seminar leader.

Module 2

For instructions, see the Manual for Thesis Writing.

Module 3

Literature is to be found individually. A list of recommended literature could be found in the appendix to the Manual for Thesis Writing.

Module 4

For instructions, see the Manual for Thesis Writing.

Course reference literature

Course reference literature

Reference literature is literature that broadens, deepens and clarifies the topic. The student is expected to utilize these knowledge sources and other sources, especially when working with written reports and case information.

Thesis writing in Business Administration. Thesis manual.
USBE Företagsekonomi :

Additional individual literature focusing on specific topics may be needed to be able to complete module assignments.