Master Project Guidelines

This document describes the most important steps and necessary formalities for preparing and submitting a Master Project in Meteorology. The description covers the closely related modules Specialization Phase (PM-Special) and Master Thesis. The document is a guideline, not a legally binding regulation, and has been developed based on the Master Project Guidelines of the Department of Astrophysics of UNIVIE. The binding document is the Studienrecht. Questions can be directed to the SPL Manfred Dorninger (

1 Definitions, duration

The Master Project (MP) consists of the module PM-Special (15 ECTS), the Master Thesis (27 ECTS), and the defence (3 ECTS) which have to be completed in that order. One important purpose of the module PM-Special is to cover preparatory work for the Master Thesis, e.g., literature search and initial training on tools and data sets. The outcome of the module PM-Special is a written research plan. The Master Thesis corresponds to the actual research phase of the MP, during which the research plan is carried out and the Master Thesis manuscript is written.

Since the MP awards 45 ECTS, completing it should take approximately 8 months of full-time work. Therefore, an MP is expected to be completed within two consecutive semesters.

Master students are strongly advised to complete at least 60 ECTS of their Master studies before starting their MP. They are strongly encouraged to follow the recommended timeline (chap. 8) and complete their MP before the designated project end date. An extension to this period might be granted under special circumstances, such as illness and parental leave.

2 Project selection, supervisor

Available research areas for MP topics are presented at the end of each semester during the last session of the module PM-PapClub (Paper Club), enabling the students to select their MP at the beginning of the following semester. The exact date of MP presentation sessions is advertised by email to all master students.

Each MP requires one supervisor. Professors and habilitated staff members at the Department of Meteorology and Geophysics can act as a supervisor of an MP. Postdoc staff members can serve as a co-supervisor (Mitbetreuer*in). Praedoc staff members cannot serve as a co-supervisor. There can only be one supervisor, and there can be, at most, one co-supervisor. In exceptional circumstances, non-habilitated staff members can act as a supervisor of an MP. In particular, this is possible for:

  • Postdocs leading a funded scientific project (e.g., EU, FWF, FFG, WWTF) that is thematically relevant for the MP, or
  • Postdocs that are granted supervision rights for a specific MP by the habilitated staff.

The supervisor of an MP must be an employee at the University of Vienna. An MP with an external supervisor is generally not allowed.

The duties of the supervisor include mentoring, support and constructive feedback during the entire duration of the MP, detailed and timely feedback on the outline of the research plan and the Master thesis, as well as evaluation and grading.


3 Specialisacion phase

During the specialisation phase (within module PM-Special), the MP candidate must successfully take part and complete the courses KU Specialisation (10 ECTS) and Master Seminar (3 ECTS). Both courses are offered every semester. It is strongly recommended to take the two courses simultaneously.

During the course KU Specialisation, the student has regular meetings with their supervisor. The student gets familiar with the topic of their MP by reading scientific literature, defining research goals, and developing a strategy to achieve these goals.

The student has to submit an outline of their MP with a maximum length of 4 pages at the end of the course KU Specialisation. This helps to define a realistic timeline for the execution of the project in light of the student's personal situation and other constraints. The outline must contain a literature review, research hypothesis/questions/objectives, methods, references, the time plan, and the planned meeting frequency with the supervisor. The supervisor grades the outline, and registers the grade after the official registration of the Master Thesis is completed (see chap. 4.1).

In the Master Seminar (module: SE Scientific communication), the student presents the research plan of their MP and, possibly, preliminary work. In addition, at the beginning of each semester, the Department's IT staff presents technical guidelines, best practices, policies, and rules regarding access to the Department's computational and storage resources.

4 Master Thesis phase

4.1 Registration

The student is responsible for registering their Master Thesis by the end of the course KU Specialisation (see chap. 3). A Master Thesis must be registered at least four months before the submission of the Master Thesis manuscript to the SSC. For up-to-date information, please check the SSC website.

As part of the registration process, the student and the supervisor (and a possible co-supervisor) meet to discuss the research project and complete two mandatory forms (see below). This meeting represents the official start of the Master Thesis phase.

The registration is completed by submitting two mandatory forms:

In the case of co-supervision, a co-supervision form must also be completed and submitted to the SSC by the supervisor and the co-supervisor. After the registration of the co-supervision, the SSC informs the student.


4.2 Mid-term review

Approximately three months after the start of the Master Thesis phase according to the recommended timeline (i.e., ~50% completion), the supervisor will coordinate a review meeting with the candidate. This meeting aims to (re-)evaluate the progress and feasibility of the MP at this stage. The outcome is either a confirmation or a revision of the execution plans, final goals, and timeframe.


4.3 Master Thesis manuscript

By the end of their MP, the student must submit their Master Thesis manuscript. A thesis template in latex and evaluation criteria are available.

The Master Thesis manuscript needs to include the following parts: (i) a description of the research topic and the current state of knowledge, (ii) a description of the research question, aims, and/or hypotheses, (iii) a description of the methods and datasets, (iv) description and discussion of the results, and (v) a description of the overall conclusions. Part (vi) may include a description of possible future work.

Within the recommended project duration, the supervisor (and co-supervisor) is expected to allocate sufficient time to properly advise the student during the writing phase (typically the last 2-3 months of the project) to provide regular and constructive feedback on the writing.

The supervisor, and optimally a second reader (see chap. 6), are responsible for evaluating the Master Thesis manuscript and submitting their grade and report within two months after the thesis submission. The grading and report form can be found on the website of the SSC.


4.4 Master Thesis evaluation

The supervisor determines the Master Thesis grade. Nonetheless, an optional second reader who is not the co-supervisor is highly recommended. The grading must follow the criteria listed in the document "Evaluation criteria for the Master Thesis” to guarantee a consistent grading across different supervisors. The thesis, including the writing, has to be the intellectual product of the candidate. Readers are therefore asked to pay attention to inappropriate use of artificial intelligence tools. After submission, a plagiarism check will be carried out by the SPL.






5 Defence

The student must hold a public defence (3 ECTS) in front of the defence committee, composed of at least two examiners and one chairperson. The committee is suggested by the candidate and approved by the SPL.

The student must take several steps before the defence can take place. These are described on the SSC website in detail.

The defence consists of two parts: (i) a public presentation of the scientific results obtained as part of the MP (30 minutes), and (ii) a public examination by the committee about topics related to the MP (15 minutes). The public is allowed to ask questions. The total duration of the defence is 45 minutes.

The SPL will define the time and location of the defence upon the proposal from the student (see registration for the Thesis Defence). The student fills the registration form and sends it by email to the SPL who forwards it via the Department's administration office ( to the SSC ( at least three weeks in advance of the defence. The student is encouraged to coordinate the defence within the academic semesters.

The defence committee chair is in charge of the defence exam and must be the SPL or a habilitated person at the Department. The defence committee consists of: (i) the chairperson: SPL or other habilitated staff member of the Department; (ii) the first examiner: Supervisor of Master Thesis; (iii) the second examiner: Professor or habilitated staff member who is not the co-supervisor; (iv) and optionally a third examiner, the co-supervisor. The examination committee will evaluate the public defence.

6 End of project

An MP is completed after (i) the submission of the Master Thesis manuscript and (ii) a successful defence. The student has to follow the final steps as described on the SSC website. The defence protocol must be filled (grades included) and signed by the examination committee members during the defence. The defence protocol will be sent via the Department's administration office to the SSC by the committee's chairperson.

The student has to inform the administration office ( about completion of their Master Thesis.

To enable the reproducibility of the research results, the student is responsible for properly documenting the MP work (data, code), according to the supervisor's guidelines.

Further, the student has to contact the IT-group for a proper check-out from all IT-systems used for the Master Thesis (

7 Code of conduct and safe working environment

All activities associated with an MP must comply with the University Code of Conduct.

We are committed to providing a safe working environment. In case of problems between the student and the supervisor/co-supervisor (such as harassment, misconduct, absence, lack of proper supervision, etc.), these can be confidentially discussed with the SPL or a Person of Trust. The Person of Trust is designated by both the student and the supervisor. The information will be kept confidential unless all parties agree otherwise.

8 Timeline

Month Start WS Start SS
Presentation of possible topics during one of the Paper Club meetings by working groups; project search and selection
1 Oct Mar Specialisation phase begins
1-4 Oct-Jan Mar-Jun Project is presented in master seminar by student
5 Feb Jul Outline is submitted by student to supervisor
6 Mar Aug Master Thesis begins, registration forms are signed and submitted, specialisation phase ends
8 May Oct Mid-term meeting
9-10 Jun/Jul Nov/Dec Master Thesis draft is submitted by student to supervisor
11 Aug Jan Final Master Thesis is submitted to SSC by student
11 Aug Jan Supervisor grades the thesis and completes an evaluation report, three weeks in advance of defence date
12 Sep Feb Defence, grading of defence, end of project