Frequently Asked Questions regarding Theses

Table of Contents

Joint Examination Regulations (German)
Joint Examination Regulations (English)

Finding a Supervisor

  • How do I start looking for a thesis topic and a supervisor?
    There were probably courses during your studies that appealed to you more than others. The subject areas of these courses can offer a good starting point for your search.
    For example, you can orientate yourself on the chairs whose lectures you have already attended. You can also look for smaller chairs and research groups at DFKI, MPI and CISPA that research similar topics.
    The SIC website gives an overview of the chairs and research groups affiliated with the university. Another list that is sorted by research areas can be found here.
  • Is it a problem if I don’t have a specific topic in mind when reaching out?
    Usually, no. Some chairs and research groups actually maintain a list of suggestions for thesis topics. In most cases, something will emerge while talking to your potential supervisor. Based on initial ideas, you then develop the specific thesis topic together.
  • I would like to write my thesis with X. How can I increase my chances of being accepted?
    Lecturers generally like it if you have attended some of their courses, in particular seminars and Core or Advanced lectures, before asking to do a thesis with them. In courses with smaller group sizes, it is easier to stand out positively and get to know the lecturer. This can also help to decide whether there is a good match on a personal level.
    Additionally, it is often viewed favourably if your transcript has a common thread (i.e. you have attended various courses in one field, for example).
  • I would like to write my thesis with X. However, I did not have outstanding grades in their courses. Do I no longer have a chance to write my thesis there?
    This varies from supervisor to supervisor. If you’re unsure, you can clarify whether this would be a problem by just asking your preferred supervisor.
  • Who is allowed to supervise my thesis?
    That depends on your study programme. However, for most study programmes the SIC list provides a good general first idea.
    In order to find out who already has supervision rights for your study programme, you can contact the responsible examination office (Prüfungssekretariat).
  • Can I write my thesis in cooperation with a company?
    Yes, but this must be authorised in advance by the examination board of your study programme. See also § 21 (4) of the examination regulations.
    In general, the topic must be defined in advance in close consultation with the university supervisor, so that the scientific methodology and the contribution are clarified in advance. It can be helpful to tie in with existing collaborations between chairs and research groups or to find supervisors at an early stage for such a thesis.In any case, the first reviewer must come from the Department of Computer Science and have doctoral authorisation (Promotionsrecht). The Joint Examination Regulations of the Faculty of Computer Science and the subject-specific regulations of the respective study programme describe which people may be the first reviewer. A list of persons with the right to award doctorates at the university can be found here.
    The second reviewer is a person from the company, usually an employee with a PhD and proven expertise in the respective research area.
    The Bachelor’s/Master’s seminar is held in the group of the first reviewer.
  • What are potential advantages and disadvantages of writing a thesis in cooperation with a company?
    An industry thesis cooperation often gives you a deeper insight into the future working world and the work processes in a specific company. This gives you the opportunity to make a good impression on the company and expand your network.
    On the other hand, you may have to sign a non-disclosure agreement and may not be allowed to publish the results of your thesis without further ado. If this is important to you, you should discuss this with your preferred supervisor as soon as possible.
    It also happens from time to time that the supervisor on the company side resigns and is therefore no longer able or even allowed to supervise. In such situations, it can be difficult to complete the thesis.
  • Who can become a supervisor?
    In principle, the supervisors and reviewers of theses are professors and Privatdozenten in accordance with § 8 of the examination regulations. However, junior research group leaders and members of the academic staff with a PhD as well as staff with a PhD from the affiliated institutes (MPI, DFKI, …) and, if appointed by the examination board, persons with the same characteristics (PhD, leadership function) from other universities or companies may also have or be able to receive this right.
    Depending on the study programme, there may also be different requirements and regulations, which are outlined in your subject-specific regulations in § 31 and on your study programme page on the ps-mint website.
  • My preferred supervisor does not yet have the supervision rights for my study programme. What can I do?
    Supervision rights can be requested from the examination board that is responsible for your degree programme. To do so, contact the examination board via the e-mail address listed on the PS MINT website, and preferably the student members of the examination board who represent your interests there.
    Alternatively, the request can usually be submitted via the responsible examinations office, which supports the examination board in processing requests.
  • What is the difference between supervisors and reviewers?
    Supervisors and reviewers have different tasks. The supervisor is usually the person who guides and supports you throughout the entire thesis process. The reviewers are the people who grade your finished thesis. They check the quality of the work, the argumentation, the research methods and the conclusions.
    If your supervisor fulfills the requirements for a reviewer, they can also take on the role of one of the reviewers.
  • According to the examination regulations, I need two reviewers. Do I have to search for both at the same time?
    No, usually, you do not have to look for both supervisors for your thesis at the same time. Instead, you first find a supervisor who will accompany you throughout the entire process. Depending on the study programme, the first reviewer may be the supervisor themself or someone from their research environment. Your second reviewer should also be chosen shortly before you submit your thesis at the latest. You can make a suggestion yourself or ask your supervisor for suggestions.
    Supervisors can, for example, be members of a working group or a chair. Reviewers are usually professors or Privatdozenten.

Contacting Potential Supervisors

Initial contact can be made in person (e.g. after the lecture) or in writing (e.g. by e-mail). As not all lecturers have time for a conversation after their lectures, we recommend contacting them by e-mail if you’re unsure about how to best approach them.
It usually makes sense to ask for an appointment so that you can discuss your plans without time pressure.

  • Which e-mail address should I use?
    Some chairs and research groups have specified information on theses and a predefined preferred contact channel specified on their website.
    If you cannot find any information, use either the e-mail address of the professor or that of the member of staff with whom you would like to write your thesis.
  • What information should I include in my e-mail?
    First, look for the official e-mail address of the potential supervisor. Your e-mail should contain the following information:
    • your name
    • your matriculation number
    • your study programme
    • which topics you are interested in
    • which relevant courses you have attended
    • relevant extracurricular activities (if applicable)
    • suggestions for specific topics you would like to write your thesis on (if you have any in mind)
  • Am I obliged to disclose my grades?
    No, you are not obliged to disclose your grades as this falls under data protection (Datenschutz). However, providing this information can help your supervisor to better assess whether the chosen topic matches your skills.

Remember that it is important to remain polite and respectful. Most lecturers and researchers are busy people, so be patient and show understanding for possible delays in response time. If you do not receive a response, you can try again after two to three weeks.

Writing Your Thesis

  • What formal requirements regarding the format are there?
    See the examination regulations and the PS MINT FAQ. For anything not covered by official regulations or the PS MINT FAQ you should consult your supervisor.
  • What does “good supervision” look like?
    Every thesis and every supervisor is different. In general, you should proactively keep in touch with your supervisor and ask for regular meetings. For some, a monthly exchange can already be sufficient, others may need to meet more frequently.
    Similarily, your supervisor should be available while you are working on your thesis. It is normal to wait one to two weeks for a response to an e-mail. However, if you haven’t received an answer after more than two weeks and repeated enquiries, you should seek help by contacting the student council, for example.
    Be sure to raise any problems or questions with your supervisor in good time, as the time you have for your thesis is limited.
  • Who can I contact if I experience problems?
    For questions regarding the content and form of your thesis you should consult your supervisor.
    For other issues, you can make an appointment with the Study Coordination or the psychologische Beratungsstelle des Studierendenwerks.
    Furthermore it is possible to reserve single working rooms for the period of writing.
    Of course you can also reach out to the Students’ Council. To do so, send us an e-mail via


  • I’m not satisfied with the grade I received for my thesis. Is there anything I can do about that?
    You can talk to your supervisor and the reviewers and ask them how the grade(s) came to be. You can also request the reviews (Gutachten) to get a more detailed insight.
  • After talking to my supervisor and reading the reviews, I believe that my grade is unfair. What can I do?
    Contact us under


  • I have questions or suggestions for improvement of this FAQ. Who should I contact?
    Feel free to reach out to us under