How to write a master's thesis

Master thesis: introduction (Dr. Karl-Heinz Maurer, Germanist and science lecturer)

The introduction is a really important part of your master’s thesis, because to a certain extent you yourself set the standard against which your master’s thesis will be assessed. It is therefore important to coordinate the introduction precisely with the content of the master’s thesis and, above all, with the conclusion at the end of the master’s thesis. It is often the case that examiners, after reviewing the table of contents, first read the introduction and then directly the conclusion of the master’s thesis in order to get an idea of ​​the performance of the thesis.

The introduction to a master’s thesis is often difficult to write because it requires you to see the proverbial forest despite the many trees. Again, it helps to complete the task, i. H. the initiation to break it down into parts. You can find out below which parts these are or can be and what their content should be. What the first sentences of the introduction to the master’s thesis look like at the end, usually results from working on the main parts of the introduction.

The introduction of the master's thesis: purpose and content

The purpose of the introduction to the master's thesis is to provide the reader with an initial orientation on the topic and the procedure for the master's thesis. The introduction should also explain the relevance of the topic. For this purpose, the context of the topic of the master's thesis must be included in the introduction. For example, a master's thesis in business administration about cost reductions in IT could briefly address the fact that in the globalized economy, profits can often only be achieved through cost reductions. In this way, the master's thesis would have explained in its introduction why its topic is relevant and contemporary.

The example shows that the introduction (and, by the way, also the end) of a master’s thesis can and must go beyond the “box” of the topic. One should be careful with this, because an introduction that is too long and excessive would probably upset the reader. The introduction of the master's thesis should come to the topic of the master's thesis as quickly as possible and without further ado. Therefore, try to keep the introduction of your master’s thesis short. Reliable statements about the length of an introduction are impossible. But five pages can be enough.

Personal statements, e.g. B. how you found the topic, acknowledgments, etc., should not be included in the introduction but, if necessary, in a foreword to the master's thesis.

Structure the introduction of the master's thesis

In many cases, the introduction to a master’s thesis consists of four parts.

  1. At the beginning of the introduction there is often a description of the problem or question that is being dealt with. This should be presented in a context that convinces the reader of the importance of the problem and of course your master's thesis.
  2. This is followed by the aim and purpose of the work in the introduction. In principle, a master's thesis can set itself more than just one goal, but then the priority of the goals should be clear in the introduction. Determining goals can also include the groups of people for which the work could be of interest and why.
  3. The introduction can then make exclusions, i.e. clearly state what should not be dealt with in the master's thesis.
  4. This is followed by a description of the solution path on which the goal of the master's thesis is to be achieved. This part of the introduction can consist of a brief preliminary methodological consideration. This includes, for example, a very brief explanation of the methods or theories used, but also an explanation of important data sets and their origin.
  5. This is followed by a brief description of the content of the main chapters of the master's thesis in the introduction. In the introduction, each main chapter should, if possible, be presented in only one or two sentences. Results of the chapters can, but do not have to be presented. After all, the introduction should clarify the goal and procedure of the master’s thesis, but not anticipate the results of the master’s thesis. But sometimes the result of a chapter of the master's thesis can be so important for the focus of the following chapters that the results must also be mentioned in the introduction. Incidentally, the chapter number should always be included in the introduction. This can be in brackets - e.g. B. (Chapter 2). The introduction can, however, also incorporate the chapter information into the sentence syntax, e.g. B .: "Chapter 2 expands the results ..." However, the title of the chapters should not be mentioned in the introduction of a master's thesis.

In addition, a brief description of the research situation can be inserted in the introduction after points 1, 2 or 3. This can help to justify the objective of the master's thesis or its methodical approach. Sometimes the problem of the master's thesis is also given by the research situation and the latter must then be mentioned.