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The Master thesis in Ecological Marine Management

This part of the program is of utmost importance as testified by the foreseen study load and credits (27ECTS). When successfully completed, the thesis assignment is a sound basis for graduates pursuing a scientific career as much as for those active in environmental management.

Finding the right research topic
The thesis work accounts for almost half of the study load of the second year of ECOMAMA. Students work on their thesis mainly in the second year of the programme, but usually already determine a suitable research topic in the first year. In the first year (and also continued during the second year) students are introduced to various marine experts, laboratories and institutes participating in the ECOMAMA-programme, which might help them work out a research topic and find a promoter. The thesis can be performed in the different laboratories/departments of the lecturers/institutes involved. More information can be found by visiting the website of those institutes or experts (via links on the ECOMAMA website) or visit their labs and ask for information.A small (non-exhaustive) presentation of participating laboratories and institutes can be found here. Other relevant laboratories, institutes or experts can also be proposed.

Some lecturers or institutes proposed thesis topics for 2007-2008. However, students are encouraged to propose their own research topic. The feasibility is discussed with the coordinators, who will help you to find the right promoter and research institute. Many foreign students perform their field work during the summer leave after the first year of ECOMAMA.
At the beginning of the second year of ECOMAMA (before the end of November) you hand in the abstract of your proposed thesis research, signed by your promoter. This will be evaluated by the members of the Steering Committee.

Writing the manuscript
The thesis is a scientific work, containing sound scientific information and written in good English. Use the spelling check of your text editor and if English is not your mother tongue, please have the draft of the manuscript proofread by a friend/colleague, before you submit it for corrections to your (co)-promoters. Hand in different drafts to your supervisor/promoter during the year. This way he/she can correct and assist where necessary, e.g. time needed for experiments, rerun experiments, extra experiments or statistics, time needed to write,… Start writing in time!

A list of previous theses of ECOMAMA students can be found via the library link on our website (under construction). All the hard copies are available in our library or in the library of Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in Oostende.
Non-VLIR scholarship holders should realise their travels are not refunded, in case they opt for a promoter, laboratory or research institute far away (such as VLIZ, Ostend, UGent).
Students are welcome to ask the ECOMAMA coordinators for advice on their thesis research during the year, but their promoter will guide them till the final step, the write-up of the manuscript and the defense of their work

Evaluation
Part of the examination of the second year course "Scientific reporting and didactics" in January is a student slide presentation (in Powerpoint) of the thesis work in progress. The ECOMAMA coordinators are present during this examination session and the progress of the work is evaluated informally. In case the progress appears problematic in one way or another (scientific standard, remaining time-work load), the coordinators will direct the student to take appropriate action (and if necessary the promoter is contacted).
The final manuscript is submitted in four-fold, about two weeks before the oral public defense of the thesis (deadlines are communicated to the students well in advance): one copy for each of the two jury-members, one copy for the overall reader, and one copy for the VLIZ library (students should provide a copy for their promoter(s) and copromoter(s)). Students present their work orally in a slide presentation of 15 min maximum. Right after the presentation, the public and jury-members can ask questions (maximum 15 minutes). In most cases, the public consists of ECOMAMA students, the ECOMAMA staff, jury-members and other invited people. The jury, consisting of the thesis promoter(s) and co-promoter(s) and the two jury members, grades the work.
Electronic version

When the abstract is written you have to mail an electronic version to the ECOMAMA office (ecomama@vub.ac.be) and we also require a cdrom with your abstract (in a Word document)