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Department of Computational Linguistics

Master's Thesis

Process and organisation

You can find all current information about the completion of your Master's degree program and a Master's thesis in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences here. For the process of the booking of the Master's thesis, please have a look here.

Formal requirements

The Master's thesis is an independently written body of work. Group work is not allowed. Students have two semesters (incl. time for the evaluation) to work on their thesis, which is assessed and worth 30 ECTS credits. Before booking the module, the topic and the date of submission must be agreed upon with the supervisor of the thesis.

The legal framework for the writing of a Master's thesis is set out in the General Regulations for the Study of Bachelor and Master Degree Programs at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Zurich of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Zurich, to be found on this site (in German):

Please note the information and deadlines of the Faculty.

Topic and aim

The topic of the Master's thesis must be agreed upon and approved by a representative of the department (a professor) of Computational Linguistics. The agreed and approved topic will be recorded on the topic sheet (see below). The representative of the department can delegate this task to a member of middle management.

Open topics for theses can be found here.

In the Master's thesis, the students should prove that he/she can process a scientifically relevant question from the field of computational linguistics or language technology in a methodically clean way and present it adequately. The state of the art is to be reprocessed in relation to the chosen question, i.e. no new scientific knowledge is required (but this is not prohibited). The formal rules of the discipline (e.g. regarding references) must be taken into account.


As a rule, an employee of the department (post-doc, research associate, professor) supervises the work. However, there is no entitlement to supervision. Supervisors have to have at least a doctoral degree. For the evaluation of the Master's thesis, the supervisor will prepare an expert opinion (§32 of the study regulations).

Scope and design

The Master's thesis should not exceed 80 pages, (approx. 240, 000 characters, excluding appendices and bibliography). Extensive data, which is only suitable for further processing by machine (program code, corpora, etc.) should also be in extracts or in the appendix. 

A proof copy of the thesis must be submitted directly to the supervisor, who will determine the outer form.

  • two files 'abstract_de' and 'abstract_en' with a German and an English summary of the work (approx. 100 words each, file format: ASCII or HTML);
  • a file with the complete master's thesis 'masterarbeit.pdf' including all attachments in PDF format.

The following conditions must be met:

  1. Font types other than the freely available Type-1 fonts (Helvetica, Times New Roman, etc.) must be included in the PDF document. This must be specified as an option when converting to PDF format.
  2. The sheet size must not exceed 210 x 297mm (DIN A4).
  3. Graphics in the text are to be scaled to a reasonable resolution. 300 dpi is enough for graphics.
  4. The file with the full contents of the work must not be read-only.
  5. Program code, corpora and other data, which are suitable for further processing by machine, should be included in their complete form. These should be presented in ASCII, not in PDF format, and should be in separate files, which are to be named in a self-explanatorily manner. Information required to process the data on the computer must be explicit in order to allow for efficient testing.

Here is a LaTeX template for a Bachelor's thesis, which can be adapted for a Master's thesis:

Topic sheet

Once the topic of the master's thesis is approved by a representative of the department, he/she establishes an official topic sheet (PDF, 145 KB) for the particular thesis (with title and task description). This topic sheet is signed by the student and the representative in order to ensure:

1.     On the one hand, the topic is reserved for you, and

2.     On the other hand, you agree to write the work within the prescribed period.

Under current law, the copyright for the Master's thesis lies with the student. However, the student must grant the University of Zurich, represented by the Department of Computational Linguistics, a free, non-permanent, non-exclusive right to use the master's thesis (especially for publication on the Web) as well as all products (especially software) created during the work. A declaration must be signed by the student at the beginning of the thesis. In exceptional cases, this rule may not apply if mutually agreed upon.

Basic rules of academic honesty

The easy availability of texts in digital form has created the impression in the general public (and thus also among students) that everything that is published is somehow in the "public domain" and can therefore be freely inserted into one's own work. This impression is false. Formulations, trains of thought and other intellectual achievements taken over from others must be meticulously and precisely referenced - everything else is plagiarism. This is especially relevant for assessments such as seminar papers, programming projects, term papers, bachelor's and master's theses. Due to the increasing spread of plagiarism, the university has significantly tightened the sanctions that can be imposed on plagiarising students.

Weiterführende Informationen

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Student Consultation

For questions that are not answered in the guidelines and study regulations, read the FAQ first. Please also consult the site Student Services of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

If a question remains unanswered, please contact the Student Advisor for Computational Linguistics.

International students

Information for International students: International Scholars Center

For detailed information on what you need to take into account upon relocating to Switzerland, please refer to  Before and After Arrival.


Download guidelines and other important documents here.

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