Master’s Thesis

Students will move to the selected specialization partner for the second academic year. All MSc theses will be co-supervised by academic faculty from at least two different partner universities, and/or mobility partner. Students may move to another mobility partner in the final semester for Master Thesis research.

  • The topic of the master thesis should be chosen in such a way that it is reasonable and appropriate for completion of the thesis within six months.
  • The topic of the master thesis must be taken from the selected specialisation track of the student. The student may suggest a topic or choose from a number of topics provided by one of the available thesis advisors.
  • The Master thesis is co-supervised by two faculty members from the consortium, one from PLUS and one from the university representing the chosen specialization track selected by the student. These faculty members supervising the thesis must be qualified according to the regulations of their own institution.
  • The Master thesis has to be submitted in English language.
  • Due to the dual degree character of this programme, a single thesis is submitted in identical form at two partner institutions as a graduation requirement.

Development of the master’s thesis concept is supported by a course on research methods and academic writing integrated with co-supervision. CDE students shall register for the course in PLUSonline.

Student Agreement:
  • 4.6 Regulations for the co-supervised Master Thesis are defined in the CDE curriculum. If student does not submit his/her master thesis by June 10, academic year 2, the Student must register for a 5th semester at the University of Salzburg and University of South Brittany or University of Salzburg and Palacky University Olomouc.
  • 4.7 The Student may participate at the official graduation ceremony on her/his own cost and by own arrangement. A CDE graduation ceremony may be organized annually in July during GI_Forum in Salzburg,
  • Theses Blog – indicative list, available semester 3, month 2
  • If student proposes a topic (supervisors from both universities must agree)

The potential of Copernicus data and information for education and research will be fully exploited in use cases and internships, and in the Master Thesis research projects. Copernicus Services: Atmosphere, Marine, Land, Climate Change, Security, and Emergency.

Mobility Partners

Copernicus Master in Digital Earth is offered in collaboration with a number of academic partners, where students can be hosted to develop their thesis.

Mobility partners are located in France, Germany, India, Thailand and the United States. Maximum duration of research stay is < 3 months.


  • Make sure that all prior steps are completed – please check out the CDE Thesis and EXAM guidelines document.
  • Development of your Master Thesis typically will start in the second year, and will be the main task throughout the final semester.
  • Topics are discussed, defined and agreed with the chosen supervisor, who will be a professor at the University of Salzburg and the specialization track partner university. If anyone from outside University of Salzburg, or without ‘habilitation’ (not a ‘Dozent’, ‘PD’, ‘Associate Prof’ or ‘Prof’) is considered as supervisor, explicit written permission must be granted before starting with the thesis.
  • A list of topics is provided for illustration. Generally, you should choose a topic suiting your interests and intended (future) professional orientation. Sometimes MSc thesis topics are announced and offered within project frameworks, but currently a majority of topics is chosen based on the candidate’s suggestions and interests.

PLEASE NOTE: A clearly defined process must be followed from the start of work on your thesis all the way to submitting and then your defense / final exam:

  • Discuss and mutually agree on a tentative topic with your prospective Supervisor.
  • On your personal PLUSonline page (‘Visitenkarte’) choose the option ‘PAAV’ to enter your preliminary topic / thesis working title and supervisor and submit. Alternatively, you can directly go to
  • BEFORE submitting your completed thesis, completion of all class credits needs to be documented. This is done through a form = ‘Prüfungspass (‘list of finished courses’), for > Request for a Master’s Degree Certificate) found in the list of forms offered by the Prüfungsreferat / Fakultätsbüro. Diligently complete this form according to your transcript of studies and get it checked with your contact person at the Prüfungsreferat.
  • Make sure all your consultations with your supervisor(s) are entered in PAAV under the ‘Protokollierung’ tab.
  • Immediately before submitting the thesis, enter the final title, an abstract plus keywords under ‘PAAV’ (see above) and a statistical classifier for the most suitable scientific discipline – this e.g. could be 1810 for ‘Geographic Information Systems’.
  • For submission, upload your thesis in pdf/a format. After checking by your supervisor you will be able to download a version of your thesis – use this to prepare 3 bound hardcopies of your thesis, plus one digital copy on CD.
  • Submit this form to nominate proposed examiners for the defense / final exam together with your thesis to the ‘Prüfungsreferat / Fakultätsbüro’.
    Subsequently, you will receive an email with another form to schedule your defense / final exam.
  • It is the candidate’s responsibility to schedule a date with exam commission members (chair and 2 examiners) and collect their signatures, then again submit this form to your contact person.
  • The defense / final exam is to be scheduled at the earliest three weeks after submitting this form.
  • Make sure you’re in good shape for your defense. The defense consists of a presentation of your master thesis (8 – 12min), a subsequent discussion and two subject-related oral exams. – good luck 🙂
  • After passing, you again will communicate with your contact person regarding degree award and certificates, and you will receive information how to register for the (optional) official award ceremony in the University Aula or during the GI_Forum conference.
  • This process sounds a bit complicated on first sight, but do not worry, it is much easier than to write a good thesis 😉
  • Contact at the Examination Office
Once all exams are completed, the master thesis is evaluated and an appointment for the master’s examination has been set, this is the general outline of the master’s examination:
  • The Master’s examination involves three people next to the candidate: two examiners and a chairman. One of the examiners typically was the thesis advisor. The exam is public and an audience is welcome.
  • The Master’s Examination consists of two parts: (a) the presentation and discussion of the master thesis and (b) the oral exams.
    • ad a) The presentation shall last about 12min and introduce the topic of the master thesis. As not all involved people know what the candidate worked on for the master thesis, the presentation shall also provide some contextual information about the topic. The presentation is followed by a discussion about the content of the presentation.
    • Ad b) Two oral exams follow, which are linked to modules in the curriculum. Typically the candidate discussed the specific subject with the examiners that is in the centre of the examination. The time of the exams is not specified; the examiners can ask questions until they can translate the performance of the candidate into a grade.

Master’s examination [before examining committee]:

  • The master’s programme in Copernicus Master in Digital Earth concludes with a master’s examination before an examining committee.
  • Candidates must have successfully completed all of the required courses, the compulsory internship, ePortfolio and the master’s thesis in order to be eligible to take the master’s examination.
  • The master’s examination before an examining committee starts with a presentation and defense of the master thesis, followed by an examination in two subjects suggested by the candidate.
  • The master’s examination subjects are drawn from specific modules, exam subjects correspond to module names.
latest update: February 17, 2020