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How to Finalise your MA Studies at EcoS

[Last updated: November 2016]

From your MA thesis → to your oral examination (defensio) → to your graduation in only 7 steps.



Legal information on finalising your MA at EcoS has been summarised and translated with the best of knowledge here. Only the German orginal (available from the SSC) is legally binding.

Step 1: Find a supervisor and discuss your MA topic.

Who could supervise my MA thesis? How to approach my future supervisor?

Ideally you have an outline of your MA thesis ready from the seminar "Research Seminar and Monitoring Class for the Master's and PhD Thesis" which you finished among the last of your courses at EcoS. Think about which supervisor (usually either Prof. Frank or Dr. Gerstl) would best fit your research interest and the topic you have chosen for your MA thesis. Information about the selection of a MA thesis topic is summarised here

While choosing your supervisor, please keep in mind the guidelines for supervision (click here for official information in German or a non-official translation into English). Next, contact your desired supervisor in order to discuss your intended MA topic with him/her.

Important: Due to his contract situation, Dr. Gerstl will not supervise any MA theses past October 2017. Therefore should you wish to chose Dr. Gerstl as your supervisor,  you have to discuss and finalise your thesis concept with him before 10 March 2017 as well as scheduling your final oral examination (defensio) before 05 October 2017. This further requires you to submit your finished MA thesis no later than 15 August 2017. For supervision thus please contact Dr. Gerstl as early as possible and thoroughly adhere to these deadlines.

Step 2: Register your MA thesis with the SSC.

How, when and where should I register my MA thesis? Which documents do I need?

Write an exposé of your planned MA thesis (approx. 3 pages) and discuss it with your supervisor.

To register your MA thesis, you must complete the following two forms found at the StudienServiceCenter (SSC):

  1. Ansuchen um Thema und Betreuung ("Request for Topic and Supervision"; in triplicate)
  2. Regeln der guten wissenschaftlichen Praxis (SL/W1) ("Rules of Good Academic Practice")

Hand both documents together with your exposé at the StudienServiceCenter (SSC; opening times). The SSC advises you to register your MA thesis six months before your planned date of graduation.

Please visit the homepage of the StudienServiceCenter (SSC) for current updates and more detailed information.

Step 3: Write your MA thesis.

Where can I get some advice / support for writing my MA thesis?

In the case of encountering issues writing your MA thesis, please take the opportunity to consult your supervisor!

At the sub-page EcoS Guidelines - How to Format your MA Thesis you will find all necessary information on format, length and citation, including a template MA thesis.

Feedback from your former seminar papers at EcoS will help you in structuring and developing your thesis. The course "Research Seminar and Monitoring Class for the Master's and PhD Thesis" is further designed to help you tackle some of the issues you might encounter. In addition, the Chair of EcoS irregularly offers classes on Methods in East Asian Studies, that come in handy in the process of writing academic papers, including your MA thesis.

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) of the University of Vienna regularly used to offer workshops for MA students who are already in the process of writing their MA thesis (so-called "Schreibwerkstätten"). In the course of these workshops, a mentor supports a group of up to 15 master students in structuring their topics, researching appropriate literature, writing a first draft version and, eventually, turning these preliminary drafts into final versions ready for submission. Simply check the CTL Website for updates on the continuation of these workshops.

Step 4: Submission of your MA Thesis.

How and where should I submit my MA thesis?

Please make sure to double-check all the necessary requirements on the homepage of the StudienServiceCenter (SSC) before submission! An inofficial English translation of the Guidelines for Submission of an MA Thesis at SSC can be downloaded here.

1. Before submitting your Master thesis, send your supervisor the final version of your thesis via email. He/she will tell you whether the thesis is likely to be graded with at least a “4”. If that is the case, no further information will be provided, and no further consultation will be held at this point. The actual grade will be determined through the official grading process. However, if you are told that the thesis is unlikely to be graded positively, you should consult again with your supervisor to discuss how the thesis can be improved. If you get a “yes”, you can proceed to electronic submission. 

2. Electronic submission: Upload the complete and final version of your thesis as one single PDF-file here.

3. Submission in hard copy: Hand in your MA thesis together with the other required forms in person at the StudienServiceCenter (SSC) within 10 working days after electronic submission. Therefore please make sure to take care of all required documents in due time. The necessary documents are listed on the website of the StudienServiceCenter (SSC). Issuance of the Elektronischer Prüfungspass (Electronic Record of Examination) can take up to 8 weeks (see StudienServiceStelle (SSS) of Sinology and EcoS).

Two hard copies of your MA thesis need to be submitted to the SSC. These two copies must not differ from the electronically submitted pdf in any way (including cover page, appendix, etc.). Since none of those official copies will remain with your supervisor and/or EcoS, please consider Prof. Frank's request to also receive a personal copy of your thesis.

Please note: In order to receive your "Elektronischer Prüfungspass" (Electronic Record of Examination), please contact the combined StudienServiceStelle (SSS) of Sinology and EcoS well in advance. Issuance of the Electronic Record of Examination can take up to 8 weeks.

Please note: Realistically, you will have to consider a time span of at least 2 1/2 to 3 months between the final submission of your MA thesis and your actual graduation.

Step 5: Register for your oral examination.

How, when and whom should I contact to register for my oral examination?

Your studies here at EcoS will be finalised by an oral examination (defensio, see Step 6 for details). Therefore, after having received a grade for your MA thesis, you must register for your defensio.

The board of examiners at your defensio will consist of three persons: a Head of Exam (usually the Director of Studies, currently Prof. Weigelin-Schwiedrzik) and two examiners. Your supervisor will be first examiner. Your supervisor will also suggest a second examiner, whom you will have to contact beforehand. In most cases at EcoS, Prof. Frank and Dr. Gerstl thus are your two examiners.

MA defensios at the Chair of EcoS are exclusively held Wednesdays between 11:45am and 4:00pm in seminar room Sinologie 2 (2F-O1-18). In order to register for your defensio, please send a formal email to the Directorate of Studies (Studienprogrammleitung, SPL), including your preferred date and introducing yourself (including student number [Matrikelnummer], study programme, and names of first and second examiner). Exam dates are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. Therefore, the further in advance you fix your exam date, the better. Especially during lecture free time, defensios may not be held every Wednesday.

Once the date and time is confirmed with your board of examiners, it is upon the Directorate of Studies (Studienprogrammleitung, SPL) to officially convene your defensio. The Director of Studies thus will get back to you with the date, time and place of your defensio as well as confirming the board of examiners. With this information you can then complete and submit (in person) the form SL/P4 Anmeldung zur Defensio ("Registration of Defensio") to the SSC at least 14 days prior to your actual examination date.

Step 6: Your oral examination (defensio).

What kind of exam is my oral MA examination? What do I have to prepare? What is the exact procedure of the oral examination? 

At the very end of your EcoS studies, you will defend your MA thesis in front of a three person board of examiners.

Your examination will be a defensio type of exam (see EcoS Curriculum), i.e. a public defence of your MA thesis. The defensio gives you an opportunity to prove your expertise in your MA topic in answering open questions about it. At the Chair of EcoS MA defensios are held Wednesdays between 11:45am and 4:00pm in seminar room Sinologie 2 (2F-O1-18).

Please note: The date of your final examination is also the day of your graduation.


1. Prepare your MA Poster and send it to ecos[at]univie.ac.at.

Please note: You must submit your MA poster at least one week in advance. Expect to receive feedback (orthography and layout, not content) on your poster which should be incorporated before printed. For presentation under Ecos Graduates the poster has to be submitted as pdf-file, file name Year_Yoursurname.pdf (eg. 2016_Maier.pdf) together with a portrait photo (usually jpg). Please also name your supervisor in the email.

2. Remind both of your examiners of their examination questions!

Please note: You are expected to be able to elaborate on each of your exam questions in a detailed manner. In your own interest, be prepared to discuss each bloc of questions (see structure of exam below) for about 20 minutes.

3. Prepare handouts for the entire board of examiners as appropriate (at least one A4 copy of your MA poster for each person as well as the A3 colour print out)

4. You may prepare notes for your presentation as well as the ensuing Q&A sessions. However, make sure not to read out a manuscript during your examination!

5. You may also bring additional material (maps, pictures etc.) to your examination. However, you are not advised to use Power Point, Prezi or any other electronic presentation method. Laptop and beamer are not provided for your defensio.

Exam Procedure

1. Before the Exam

  • Dress code: Business casual
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before the exam starts
  • Bring enough handouts of your MA poster for the entire committee: A4, horizontal format, b/w
  • Bring an additional copy of your MA poster: A3, horizontal format, colour
  • And most importantly: Keep calm, we are all on the same side!

2. Actual Exam

Your oral examination will last approx. 60 minutes. It consists of three major parts:

  • Part 1: Poster presentation by student (20 minutes)
  • Part 2: Q&A 1st examiner (20 minutes)
  • Part 3: Q&A 2nd examiner (20 minutes)

Please closely stick to the time frame indicated above as well as with the questions received from your examiners.

3. After the Exam

  • Leave the room for consultation among the board of examiners.
  • Receive your final grade, together with feedback and gratulations.

Step 7: Enjoy your life as a Master in East Asian Economy and Society!

The formal finalisation of your EcoS graduation might take up to 3 weeks after which you will be contacted by the StudienServiceCenter (SSC) through your University of Vienna (unet) email address.

Congratulations! You are now a Master in East Asian Economy and Society (EcoS).

Please note: All the information was assembled from official documents. They were translated from German into English to the best of knowledge. In case of doubt, the original German document and/or advice of the responsible academic institution does apply. If you notice any outdated information please inform us at ecos[at]univie.ac.at.


„Chair of East Asian Economy and Society
Department of East Asian Studies
University of Vienna
AAKH-Campus, Hof 2, Entrance 2.3
Spitalgasse 2
1090 Vienna
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