How to write a BSc thesis!

A companion website for students writing their BSc thesis with the Center for Cognitive and Decision Sciences

Instructors: Rui Mata & Loreen Tisdall, University of Basel

Last updated: Mon Sep 26 22:17:51 2022

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash
An overview of the BSc thesis timeline - see specific dates below

Writing a BSc thesis made easy(er)!

This website helps you get an overview of the steps involved in writing a bachelor thesis. It makes available readings and other resources to help you write a BSc thesis consisting of a research synthesis (e.g., rapid review, scoping review, systematic review, systematic review and meta-analysis). The slides for each session are also posted here (please not some slides are from HS21 but new ones will be uploaded in HS22 after each session).

Before the start of the semester please take some time to read the FAQs below and the Faculty of Psychology’s page on writing a bachelor thesis.

Please note that this site is work-in-progress and is updated on a regular basis and throughout the HS22 semester. Please send suggestions for improvement or corrections (e.g., incorrect/missing URLs) via email to the instructor - thank you!

Sessions will likely take place Tuesdays, 8.15-9.45, either in-person or over Zoom (link will be made available over email).

# Date Topic Slides
1 20.09.2022 What is a BSc thesis? pdf
2 27.09.2022 Research Synthesis: An Overview pdf
3 18.10.2022 Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses using PRISMA pdf
4 25.10.2022 Introduction to Academic Writing pdf
5 7.11-18.11 2022 Individual Meetings
6 22.11 & 6.12 2022 Student Lightning Talks

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it mandatory to attend these sessions?

Yes. Attendance is mandatory for students assigned to writing their bachelor thesis with the Center for Cognitive and Decision Sciences through the BachelorMatch system.

Q: Do I need to register for a specific course to attend these sessions?

No. Students are assigned to writing their bachelor thesis with the Center for Cognitive and Decision Sciences through the BachelorMatch system and do not need to register for any additional course(s).

Q: Do I receive credit points for attending these sessions?

No. Students receive credits upon completion of the thesis but not for thesis preparation.

Q: Do I need to conduct a research synthesis for my BSc thesis?

No. Students writing their bachelor thesis with the Center for Cognitive and Decision Sciences are encouraged to write a research synthesis (i.e., some form of combining the results of multiple studies to answer a research question). However, students have other options, for example, writing an empirical bachelor thesis based on secondary data-analysis using existing, publicly available data, or conducting their own observational or experimental study. These are typically more challenging projects that require additional time commitment and such alternative plans need to be discussed with the instructor on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Do I need to conduct a meta-analysis for my BSc thesis?

No. Students writing a research synthesis may not necessarily conduct a meta-analysis, as there are various forms of research synthesis (e.g., systematic reviews, rapid reviews, scoping reviews) that do not involve a quantitative summary of results (i.e., meta-analysis). Each student is encouraged to select the form of research synthesis that best suits their research question.

Q: Do I need to write a thesis on the topic that was selected by BachelorMatch?

No. The BachelorMatch system describes a few topics and students can choose to pursue these. However, students can also pursue different topics and are encouraged to discuss topic feasibility with the instructor. The instructor will also propose topics that are directly related to the core scientific interests of the Center for Cognitive Decision Sciences during the first session. Check out our website to learn more about the work at the center.

Q: Can I write a thesis on any topic?

Yes, within reason. Some topics may be difficult to pursue because there are too few primary studies available or require methodology and skills that are not feasible to acquire in the context of a bachelor thesis. Students are encouraged to discuss topic feasibility with the instructor.

Q: Do I need to write a thesis proposal (Exposé)?

Yes. Students are required to write a draft thesis proposal of 1-2 pages as preparation for their individual meeting with the instructor (scheduled to take place later in the semester, early to mid November). The thesis proposal will then be used as an appendix to the study contract that needs to be submitted by the end of the semester (typically around the last week of the Fall semester).

Q: Do I need to write my thesis in English?

No. The sessions listed above will take place in English but individual meetings and thesis writing can take place in German.

Q: How will my bachelor thesis be evaluated?

There are a number of criteria, including the clarity and quality of argumentation, effort, and the use of appropriate methods and procedures. An example of the thesis evaluation sheet can be found here.

Q: How many studies should a research synthesis include?

A synthesis needs to include, by definition, more than one study - there is no clear rule for a minimum number of studies.

Q: How many pages should my thesis have?

Less is more: Shorter, clear writing should be preferred. A bachelor thesis is formatted like a scientific manuscript and will typically be about 20-30 pages in length (including title pages, references, tables, and figures, but excluding appendices).

Q: What formal criteria does my thesis need to comply with?

The thesis needs to comply with APA formatting. It must comply with and include a declaration of scientific integrity: “The author hereby declares that she/he has read and fully adhered to the Code for Good Practice in Research of the University of Basel.”

Q: Should I use a template?

Yes. Please use one of the templates provided by the deanery of studies. Please note that these are available in English and German.

Q: How do I submit my thesis?

The Bachelor thesis should be emailed to

Q: When is my thesis due?

The Bachelor thesis is due April 15th. You can apply for an extension by sending the appropriate form to

Q: How often should I meet the instructor?

You should meet the instructor several times in the group meetings and at least once for an individual meeting. More meetings are possible and it is not uncommon that students meet the instructor 2-3 times before signing the Studienvertrag. Feel free to email the instructor with a meeting request but please make sure to include in your email a list of specific questions and background materials (papers, Exposé) that you would like to discuss.