Stepwise approach

Phase 0 | Organizing a project

Check the prerequisites
If you are interested in a thesis with us, please first check whether you fulfill the prerequisites.

As soon as you know you want to write a thesis with us, you send an e-mail to In parellel, you fill out this intake form so that we are informed on your study background and the period in wish you wish to start. Contact us at least 3 months before the start of your thesis. The sooner, the better! After we have received your form, you will be invited to our intake session.

Come to our intake meeting
We organize master thesis intake sessions bi-weekly. This is the moment where you meet the ORL thesis coordinator, students can ask questions, and the thesis coordinator will illustrate the main steps of the whole thesis procedure.

State your preferences
Students can check our available thesis topic in our ORL Thesis Brightspace. This is a self-enrolment page (you can find us via the discover tab). Once you have made up your mind, you can state your top 3 via submitting this form. Within 10 working days, you can expect an e-mail from our thesis coordinator with an answer. Also, you will be assigned to your supervisor.
It can be the case that you want to work on a slightly different topic within our group which is not exactly appearing in 'available thesis topics'. Feel free to contact to discuss those ideas.

Contact your study advisor
Before you officially start your thesis, we need to be in the possession of written consent from your study advisor that you are indeed eligible for a master thesis at the ORL group. Ask your study advisor to inform on time!

Meet your supervisor
Students are in the lead for planning a first meeting with their supervisor. Please save one hour to get to know each other, discuss the thesis topic and set mutual expectations. We recommend to schedule a series of meetings on fixed timeslots (e.g. weekly). This will save some coordination, also regular meetings keep both sides informed on the process and progress. Agreements that are made between supervisor and student should be secured in the thesis learning agreement. Please send a signed copy of this learning agreement to your supervisor, study advisor,, and

Phase 1 | Proposal writing

Write your proposal
Within six weeks after the start of your thesis, students need to submit their research proposal. Proposals can be submitted to the supervisor once students have incorporated all the feedback of the thesis ring (see below). Once your supervisor and second examiner approve (go decision), students get passed to the next phase (performing the research). In case of a no go decision, students extend their proposal writing phase at the cost of the next phases.

Join the thesis ring
Before your thesis starts, you receive an invitation to join the thesis ring. Please come to the kick-off event of your ring to get to learn other students in the master thesis and get familiar with the goals and activities of the ORL thesis rings.

Pitch your proposal
Students present their research proposal in a 7-minute pitch in one of our bi-weekly colloquia. Please sign up for a proposal pitch here, at least two weeks before the respective date. Note: first come, first serve!

Phase 2 | Performing the research

In this phase, students execute their projects mostly individually, and have (weekly) meetings with their supervisors. In this phase, we organize no official thesis ring meetings but we sincerely recommend to meet up with fellow students regularly and share your thesis experiences.

Phase 3 | Finalizing the report

Discuss draft report in thesis ring
In this phase of the thesis, the thesis ring wil be restarted so that students have the chance to mutually discuss their draft reports before handing in the draft version at their supervisor.

Present your final results
The final results of the thesis are presented in one of our bi-weekly colloquia. Please sign up for a presentation here, at least two weeks before the respective date. Note: first come, first serve!

Final examination
After students have incorporated the feedback of the thesis ring and supervisor, they hand in a final version of the thesis, minimum 1 week before the final examination of the thesis.

Hand in your extended abstract
Every student should write an extended abstract for the thesis depot of Wageningen University that is accessible for everyone. Extended abstracts should be sent to


When can I start a master thesis?

At our group, students can start with their master thesis every period. By default, the starting date of the thesis is Monday week 1 of the respective period.

What is the duration of a master thesis?

Master theses that consist of 36 ECTS correspond to 6 months full-time work. Exceptions to this duration can only be made with the formal (written) approval of your study advisor. If this is the case, please arrange this approval a.s.a.p., but at least before you meet your supervisor for the first time.

Where can I find the thesis learning agreement?

You can find the thesis learning agreement via the website of Education and Student Affairs.

Why do I need a learning agreement?

The learning agreement (mutually) secures agreements (and rights and obligations) between the student and the WUR supervisor. One obligation for the student is, for example, submitting drafts or (parts of) the thesis on agreed dates in order for the supervisor to have enough time to read and comment. An obligation of the supervisor towards a student is, for example, to provide feedback timely regarding writing and content of the draft in the successive agreed meeting.

What are my responsibilities with respect to my supervisor?

At ORL, we value a pro-active working attitude from our students. Taking the lead in your own projects is part of the thesis learning experience. We advise students e.g. to propose a series of meetings and to take active ownership of the agenda in these meetings by preparing your supervisor one day in advance on what to expect.

What happens in case of delay?

The start and end date of your thesis are recorded in the Learning Agreement. There are a number of potential causes for delay in your thesis project. In case of valid reasons for delay that are known beforehand, your supervisor can extend the regular duration based on the consent of your study advisor. In case of circumstances beyond one's control, your supervisor can adjust your time schedule. In case you do not manage to complete a satisfactory final report before the end date recorded in the learning agreement, you may ask your supervisor for an extension of two months. Supervisors will extend the end date if they expect that you will be able to hand in a satisfactory report within these extra months. If you are not able to hand in a satisfactory report within two extra months, your WU supervisor and examiner can decide that you should start a new thesis. For more information on delay and possibilities to resit, we refer to the MSc Thesis Course Guide Wageningen University, which can be downloaded here.

What does the final examination look like?

The final examination is a meeting between student, supervisor and examiner ('second reader'), typically taking one hour. As a relative outsider the examiner typically has the lead in raising questions regarding the thesis report. The supervisor can raise additional questions, but can also steer the conversation, for example if he/she thinks important aspects of the thesis are given too little attention. After the final question, the student is asked to shortly leave the room in order for the supervisor and the examiner to deliberate the grading. After that, the student is informed about the grade, including the main considerations that led to the particular grade. 

Why do I need to write an extended abstract?

Universities are research institutions and knowledge generators that provide new insights, change paradigms and aid society in its development. As such, it is our obligation to publish concise summaries of the work executed by our students in our thesis depot. The guidelines for writing an extended abstract are published on our ORL Thesis Brightspace page.