What do we expect from the supervisors?
The Department of Physics wants master's students to receive good and manageable guidance that helps them get the best possible learning outcome. Since staff at the department may have different experiences, the study administration, the management and the education committee have agreed on some guidelines for guiding master's students.
- Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that the project plan (project description) is prepared jointly between the student and the supervisor, and that the plan becomes a useful tool for following up the project for the rest of the master's program.
- In addition to regular supervision, supervisors and students should meet twice a semester during the last three semesters to follow up the progression with the project and clarify expectations for further work and collaboration.
- The master's program must first and foremost end up in a master's thesis. Publication of scientific articles should be a bonus that is given lower priority than the master's thesis itself.
- The master's program has many different learning outcomes. The supervisor is responsible for helping the student to reach everyone, but there are joint courses that support the supervisors in some areas.
- Both supervisors and students can advantageously read these guidelines before the master's work starts.
The project plan (project description)
One of the learning outcomes the master's program will provide is that the student "... can plan and manage a research project". An important step in learning this is that the student and the supervisor work together to prepare a project plan in the first semester.
The project plan should be a tool that helps the student to plan and structure the work with the assignment. Therefore, the student must actively participate in the writing process and understand the content of the plan and gain ownership of it, even though the supervisor often has to contribute a lot in the beginning. As the project progresses and develops, the project plan can be revised. It is important that the plan includes time planning for the two years of the master's program. The project plan should have clear milestones and deadlines that both student and supervisor follow up along the way, then the chances are high that the study will be completed on time.
Progression and clarification of expectations
Throughout the master's program, it is important that the student and supervisor have an open dialogue about what they expect from the project and others. Does the student have to learn special theory, experimental methods or numerical modeling, how much should the student learn on his own and how much should the supervisor contribute? In what periods should the supervisor possibly contribute?
For most people, it will be wise to agree on a fixed time each week where the student and supervisor talk about everything from small decisions and comments to more comprehensive guidance. We will also advise supervisors and students to earmark two meetings every quarter semester to talk specifically about how the progression is up against the project plan, what will happen in the future to maintain or improve the progression, and what the supervisor and student expect from each other in this work.
A lot can happen in a research project. The supervisor and student should make a list of everything that can go wrong (equipment may break or not be delivered on time, the lab may become unavailable, approval may come too late, it may take a long time to find errors in the program code, etc.), and concrete plans for what should be done if it should happen. Then there is a greater chance of reaching the submission deadline even if something goes wrong. It is not always possible to postpone the deadline.
The master's thesis is something other than a PhD
Although a master's degree and a PhD degree share several learning outcomes, there are important differences between the two. The most obvious is that the master's thesis is far smaller in scope and that the student has a much shorter time for both learning, maturation and production. Master's students also usually need closer follow-up. The most important thing, however, is that a master's thesis does not have to be scientifically publishable. It is of course great if the project can culminate in a scientific article, but this should be a bonus and not something that is prioritized over the master's thesis itself.
The master's program will have many different learning outcomes
Our master's students will acquire many different learning outcomes (see "Learning outcomes" on your program). They will gain knowledge about subjects and research methods, and skills to use knowledge and methods to solve new problems and present the results. They will also develop general competence for both independent work and participation in the professional community, and a reflected attitude to research, science and the role and responsibility of researchers in society. Supervisors therefore have a broad mandate that goes beyond ensuring that the student comes to fruition with the assignment itself.
The faculty has implemented several measures to support the supervisors in this work. "Writing Science" provides students with training in writing science and is mandatory for master's students in physics and electronics. There is also a mini-course in the use of libraries, and students should be encouraged to take the course in science communication «MNKOM4000 - Communication and science journalism», or similar courses given by the career center.