Info about Bachelor and Master theses

Short information

The Bachelor and Master thesis is part of the Computer Science Bachelor and Master program at ETH. The goal of both theses is to learn independent structured and scientific work methods.

The most important information about the Bachelor's and Master's thesis can be found in the study regulations and the information sheets of the respective study program. These documents are listed on the following page of the D-INFK: In the following we summarize the most important points.

Both theses take 6 months to complete. The bachelor thesis is worth 10 KP and the master thesis 30 KP. The bachelor thesis can be written over 6 months in a part-time workload or as a full-time workload in a shorter time frame. The master's thesis is written over 6 months in a 100% workload.

Under certain conditions, the Bachelor thesis can also be written in a group (see Bachelor regulations Art 36.6). However, this is not common.

In order to be admitted for the Master thesis, sufficient credit points must have been acquired from some categories: see Master regulations 2020 Art 35.2 and the regulations of 2009 Art 32.2. In order to be admitted for the Bachelor thesis, 5 basic subjects must have been passed, see information sheet Bachelor thesis. If these conditions are fulfilled, you can start the thesis at any time. But note that the submission date is before the end of your study deadline and the start date must also be convenient for your supervisors.

The Bachelor thesis is supervised by one or more professors. From our experience (HoPo-Team) this supervision can vary a lot:

  • The supervision can be done directly by the professor or by PhD students or PostDocs of the respective group.
  • Supervision can be very time intensive (meetings at least once a week) or only as needed (if questions arise, they are clarified).

Both theses are completed with a written report and a presentation. The form of this presentation (audience, duration) may vary from group to group. The standard of the written work also varies.

The work can also be done externally, i.e. in industry or at another university. However, the work must still be supervised by an ETH professor. This professor also assigns the grade at the end and, depending on the project, also takes over part of the supervision. For the Data Science and Cyber Security Master there are some additional regulations regarding external master theses: See section 3 of the Data Science Master thesis leaflet, section 4 of the Cyber Security leaflet or Data Science study regulations art. 28.2. or Cyber Security study regulations art. 33.4.

For more and detailed information, check out the documents linked above.

How to find a topic:

Take your time to find a topic and a group. You should expect at least one month from your first mail to the start of your work. This process may also take longer. So if you want to start on a fixed date, you should start looking early enough. For some groups, half a year before the start is too early. This varies from group to group.

Subscribe to the mailing list: Once you are looking, you should subscribe to the mailing list to get possible proposals from there ( When you have found a thesis, you can unsubscribe.

Find a subject: First of all, you should think about what field you are interested in. Especially for the bachelor thesis, you probably don't have very concrete ideas yet. It can help to think about which lectures you were interested in and which you enjoyed. And then look at the field of the professorship.

Find a group: The department lists all professorships and their research groups at the following link The links sometimes point to the general website of the research group, then you can get an idea of their work, or to a page for writing papers in the respective group. Such pages often contain possible topics or already prepared proposals, requirements to you and email addresses of the contact persons. It is worthwhile to study such pages. It should be noted, however, that the lists of proposals are usually not complete and often not up to date. However, the proposals will give you a good idea of what you can do as work in this group. The new topics will be similar. Even if no concrete proposals are announced, it is worth asking. There is also a new mailing list where topics for papers are advertised. Both from research groups of the department and from externals: TODO: Link mailing list.

Write to the groups: The above sites often tell you who to contact to find a paper. If you are unsure, write to the professor personally. You can also write to several groups, and then choose the topic that interests you the most. This process can take some time. Professors are very busy and often take 2 days or more to respond. If you don't get an answer within a week, you can ask nicely. Unfortunately, it also happens that emails are ignored completely, then you should look for another group. Even if it sometimes takes a while with the professors; try to write back within 24 hours.

Have a meeting: It's best to set up a meeting where you can talk about possible projects and get to know the potential supervisors. Have them explain the topic and ask questions. Also find out a bit about how the group will supervise you (and if that's right for you) and when you can start working. Additionally, for the bachelor's thesis, clarify whether you will be working on it part-time for 6 months (the normal case) or full-time for a shorter period of time.

Decide: When deciding on a topic, it is certainly important that it interests or even excites you. You have to work intensively on it for 6 months. But it is just as important that the supervision is right for you. Do you prefer intensive collaboration or are infrequent inputs enough for you? Can you imagine working together with the supervisor? Are the expectations realistic? Also, exchange ideas with friends or stop by the VIS office, someone may already know the group you want to learn about.

Finish in time: If you do the Bachelor thesis and an ETH Computer Science Master: The Bachelor thesis grade must be there at the beginning of the Computer Science Master, so that you can still enroll (Friday second week of the first Master semester at the latest). In case of doubt please ask Denise Spicher (or Hopo). Note that your supervisors need time to give you the grade (up to 4 weeks, in rare cases more).

Other useful links: