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Master Thesis - Degree Project in Industrial Ecology MJ273x and AL227x, 30 cr

The final part of the Master programme in Industrial Ecology is to write a Master Thesis. In this work you are expected to demonstrate the knowledge and competence formulated in the aim and objectives of the program. The Thesis subject is Industrial Ecology (MJ273X for a grade of A-F and AL227x for a grade of P/F), covering 30 hp (corresponding to 30 ECTS credits). You will find the course curriculum in the handbook of studies.

The Degree Project shall be based on an overarching aim and clear objectives, focusing on a challenge or a problem in the field of Industrial Ecology. In some cases, the Thesis aim, objectives, method and approach is already formulated, and you as a student, will carry out the work and write the Thesis report. In other cases, you formulate the Thesis aim and objectives yourself in cooperation with one of our teachers. Once the aim, objectives, methods and approach is formulated, the work will cover (i) a search for information, data and knowledge in the chosen area (literature search), (ii) empirical or desktop analytical work based on the selected methods, (iii) results compilation and presentation, (iv) an analysis and discussion of the results obtained – connecting to other studies in the area and (v) a formulation of conclusions derived from the study and a suggestion to further work.  The time spent on the thesis should correspond to 20 weeks of full time studies. The Degree Project shall result in a written Thesis report that is presented orally in a seminar.

The Degree Project is normally carried out individually.

Intended Learning Outcomes

According to the KTH common objectives, in order to obtain the 30 credits available for the Master’s Thesis project, the student must:

  • Be able to apply relevant technology knowledge and skills acquired during the degree programme to solve a given problem.
  • Within the given frame, even with limited information, independently analyze and discuss complex issues, and deal with major problems at an advanced technological level.
  • Reflect on and critically examine their own and others scientific achievements.
  • Be able to document and present their work, within the given timeframe, with the highest standards of structural, procedural and language management.
  • Be able to identify the need for further knowledge and continuously develop their skills.
  • Reflect on sustainable development in context to their topic.

These KTH common intended learning outcomes apply to all KTH Master’s thesis projects. For details of the particular learning outcomes for MJ273x and AL227x please see the relevant course description in the Study Handbook:  (or / AL227x resp).

Admission requirements

The Course Examiner determines if your knowledge is sufficient to undertake the course, and then, in consultation with the MSc Project Coordinator, makes a decision regarding admission.

The Thesis project work is normally carried out during the final semester of the Master programme. In exceptional cases, the thesis work can begin earlier. In general, the majority of your studies must be completed; with at least 60 out of 120 credits (in a two years Masters programme) already achieved, and with no more than two undergraduate level courses unfinished before the Thesis project work begins. Also the student has to have obtained 6 ECTS credits, in a course on advanced level, in the area of Industrial Ecology relevant for the thesis work.

It is the student’s own responsibility to choose a Thesis subject. Suggestions for subjects are listed on the homepages of the department. A suggestion for a subject can be formulated by the student, a company/authority, or a teacher/researcher.

The thesis can be carried out in Sweden or abroad, in cooperation with a company or a municipality, or in direct cooperation with a research project at the department.  The subject should be selected or formulated in discussions with the Supervisor. As a student belonging to other programme’s than Sustainable Technology, you must get permission from your programme’s Coordinator of Studies/Director of Studies that you are allowed to carry out your Thesis work in the field of Industrial Ecology.

Examiner and supervisor

Each student is assigned a specific Supervisor whose role is to assist and advise during the MSc Thesis project work. The final presentation session may be chaired by the Coordinator of the Masters’ Programme, the Examiner or a Supervisor. In cases where a Student works within a company or other similar organization as an employee, an Industrial Supervisor will usually also play an active role.

The examiner is formally assigned by the Director of Studies at the division of Industrial Ecology. The Thesis subject is formally approved jointly by the Examiner and the Director of studies in connection to the admission and registration of the student for the Thesis work.

Compulsory elements

The MSc thesis project work includes some compulsory elements, namely that you must:

  1. Act as the opponent for another student’s Master thesis.
  2. Present your own approved project at a publicly announced seminar.
  3. In case the Thesis is carried out at a company, an additional presentation at the company may be required


Thesis work initiated between 1st July 2007 and 1st September 2015 is graded from A to F and the course code is MJ273x. Grading is done based on the criteria in Appendix A. For students registered at KTH after 1st of September 2015, the thesis code is AL227x and the Thesis is graded P/F. Criteria for the P/F grading scheme are found in Appendix B. For students registered at KTH before 1st of September 2015, but starting their Thesis work after 1st of September 2015 there is an option of choosing between a graded (MJ273x) or a non-graded (AL227x) Thesis. This choice has to be made at the registration of the Thesis and cannot be changed afterwards.

Brief overview of the work process

The Student is responsible for implementing and driving their Thesis work, working with the other actors involved, as outlined in Table 1 below:

Table 1. Outline of thesis work


Documents connected

1) Topic selection

Synopsis  and  Application Form

2) Background study


3) Problem definition

Planning report

4) Implementation


5) Reporting the work

Final Thesis report

  • 1) Topic selection

The Master Thesis project can be carried out within the division of Industrial Ecology, or at a company, municipality or authority. It can also be carried out abroad. The work can be of an industrial nature, it can be research-related or it can be a combination thereof. You can also discuss ideas with faculty staff at the division. Course Coordinators can provide advice and guidance in the selection of Thesis Supervisor and Examiner. For the task to be approved as a Thesis work, interesting and preferably pioneering issues in the subject field should be defined. Preference is given to issues covered by the research areas of the department.

In consultation with the Supervisor/Examiner, the student draws up a synopsis containing:

  • Title of Thesis
  • Aim and objectives
  • Methodology
  • Time schedule and budget with dates of start and ending of the Thesis work

After approval of the Synopsis, you are registered and admitted by filling in an application form, jointly with the supervisor. Please download the application form HERE (pdf 138 kB) and bring it to the meeting with the supervisor. You will also have to bring a transcript of certificates from “My pages” showing that KTH’s general admission requirements are fulfilled. This transcript shall be submitted as an appendix to the application form. After approval of the Synopsis by the Examiner and the Director of Studies, you will be registered for the course.

In case the Thesis is carried out in cooperation with a company, municipality or authority, the External Supervisor should have sufficient expertise in your proposed project area. The role of the KTH Supervisor is to ensure academic competence. You should get together with your External Supervisor before the Thesis project work begins to resolve any questions about place of work, office space, computer access and reimbursement of expenses for travel, etc. If you have problems with any of this, please contact your KTH Supervisor and/or the Examiner. Before the Thesis work is started, it is important that the External Supervisor is made aware of what it means to collaborate with our department in a Master thesis project. Appendix C provides the information you should communicate to your External Supervisor. This includes information to the company that it is inappropriate for Master Thesis project work to be confidential The work undertaken in a Master’s Thesis project is equated to elaborating scientific reports and public documents. A cornerstone of scientific work is that material is made public and may be scrutinized by other scientists. If the company needs something in the report to be confidential, you should discuss this with Examiner, before the project work begins. In such cases, a confidentiality agreement between the Student and the External Supervisor must be signed.

The Examiner submits the completed application form to the Secretary of Education, for registration at the School. The Thesis work is not to be started before it is registered.

  • 2) Background study phase

In most cases, there is an abundance of information, data and knowledge available on the Thesis subject. The main aim of the background study phase is to gather as much existing knowledge as possible in order to avoid repeating work already done and to learn about your subject. This work will also (i) allow you to better specify the detailed direction of your Thesis work, (ii) support an analysis and discussion of your results in relation to other work and (iii) help you to better plan the implementation of the Thesis work considering available resources (time, money, etc.).

The first thing you should do is to define the challenge/problem that you will approach in your thesis. You should describe the background to the challenge/problem and what existing knowledge (frame-of-reference) that is available.

  • 3) Problem definition and writing a planning report

In this phase you should define more in detail what you want to study and use and what method(s) you intend to use. Your definition of the challenge/problem and how you intend to approach it should be presented and discussed with the Supervisor.

This is done by preparing a short planning report to be presented to the Supervisor/Supervisors 3-4 weeks after starting the Thesis work. The report should follow the structure of Appendix D and should include 2-3 A4 pages.

  • 4) Implementation

When the report planning phase is complete, implementation of the MSc thesis project can begin.

It is your responsibility to arrange meetings with your Supervisor. Try to book them well in advance. If the Supervisor feels it is appropriate, arrange a visit to the company where the thesis work is taking place. The Supervisor must be kept continuously informed of your progress.

You should start writing your final report very early in the project process. Checklists and tips for the writing process are given in Appendix E. Formal requirements for the final report are presented in Appendix F and a Template for the report is found in Appendix G. All reports will be checked for plagiarism!

Your report should always have an English title and English abstract, even when it is written in Swedish.

The referencing in the Thesis report should follow the Harvard style referencing system, presented in Appendix H.

  • 5) Conclusion of the thesis

A final Thesis report according to the requirements in Appendix F should be sent in to all supervisors in due time before the Thesis presentation. The Supervisor/Examiner decides if the Student is ready for presentation and gives feedback on the report. The report should be sent to the Opponent at least one week before the presentation. The Supervisor/Examiner helps out to find a suitable opponent. If possible, Thesis presentation and opposition take place at the same event.

The oral presentation takes place at a publicly announced Seminar at the division of Industrial Ecology. In case the thesis is carried out at a company, you will normally also present the Thesis there. Remember that you normally have different target groups when you present at KTH and at a company.

The presentation and opposition are part of your final examination. Both elements are important and therefore high standards apply. The Supervisor/Examiner arranges and announces the Thesis presentations at the division. In cases when the Thesis is carried out in cooperation with a company, the student should also invite their External Supervisor.

For the Respondent

The oral presentation should be pitched at such a level that even those who have not read the Thesis are able to follow it and also to participate in the general discussion. The presentation should take between 25 to 30 minutes. Do not try to fit all the work into the presentation, but instead highlight what you believe is essential, and omit (or mention only briefly) other aspects.

For the Opponent

As an Opponent, you should begin by outlining your plan for opposition to the audience. A checklist of what you should think of when planning the opposition and a template of what you should bring up is given in Appendix I. You should highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of the Thesis. In fact, an important part of the Opponent’s role is to highlight and explain the strengths of the project work.

Two days before the presentation, you should submit a written opposition report to the Respondent’s Supervisor as well as to your own Supervisor. This report should be approximately two A4 pages long.
The opposition report should also be given to the Respondent after the presentation.

  • 6) Final corrections and publication

Before you can submit your final Thesis, you should revise deficiencies identified by the Opponent, Supervisors or Examiner. Having done so, you should submit your Thesis electronically as a pdf file with correct cover and second cover. The cover you create yourself on  Please choose the Degree as “Degree of Master (120 cr)” and “Main field of Subject” as Environmental engineering or Mechanical engineering depending on your degree. You do not need to fill in the ISSN and ISRN numbers. The TRITA number will be given to you by your Supervisor. For the second cover please use  appendix J: After cover.

The report will be published on-line via the KTH portal DIVA by your Supervisor/Examiner.


A:   Credit for Grades in MJ273x (pdf 43 kB)

B: Credits for P/F in AL227x (pdf 90 kB)

C: Information to Companies (pdf 50 kB)

D: Planning report outline (pdf 40 kB)

E: Checklist and Tips for writing (docx 27 kB)

F: Formal Requirement for Final Report (pdf 621 kB)

G: Master Thesis Template (pdf 599 kB)

H: Guide to Harvard referencing system (pdf 202 kB)

I: Instructions to Opponent (pdf 182 kB)

J: After cover (doc 88 kB)

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