Category Archives: 4.2 Thesis Opportunities

Information about Final Theses with Overseas Partner Universities

Our group supports students who would like to go abroad for a final thesis. We maintain close connections with Asian Universities in China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, as well as with Oceanian Universities in Australia and New Zealand. We also maintain close connections with several American Universities but find it difficult to enable final theses at these universities.

FAU supports such initiatives through the Office of International Affairs. Specifically, Ms Marietta Disch supports final theses abroad. In addition, there is various specialized support, for example,

Also, we have our student reports. Finally, general information sessions are starting again!

Research Theses at Asian Partner Universities

Our group maintains close connections with professors from Beijing-based Universities (Peking University, Tsinghua University), Hong Kong-based Universities (HK University of Science and Technology, City University of HK), and MMU (Multimedia University, Malaysia). While no easy exchange program exists, we facilitate student Master theses at these universities. The interests of our partners vary.

If you are adventurous and interested in performing research work at any of these locations (and most likely finishing up in Germany), please let us know. Below are some photo impressions our colleagues sent us. Also, Wikipedia is your friend.

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Writing a Final Thesis with an Industry Partner

Update 1: Prof. Ludewig of University of Stuttgart provides a clear account of the situation (in German).

Update 2: The university provides a leaflet with common Q&A on “external theses”.


Occasionally, students approach me with a final thesis topic “provided to them by industry” and hope I will supervise them on this topic. In general, I am positive about such approaches. However, as a University professor I’m bound by the University and Prüfungsordnung rules and regulations, and this sometimes leads to misunderstandings with the student and the industry partner. So please let me explain:

According to the Prüfungsordnung, only a professor can provide a thesis topic and supervise the work. An industry supervisor is not a professor and according to the Prüfungsordnung an industry supervisor is not in a position to adequately assess a thesis topic and whether it is sufficient for fulfilling degree requirements. (A final thesis is considered an exam, a “Prüfungsleistung”, and examiner needs a permission to examine, the “Prüfungsberechtigung”.)

Typically, the thrust behind an “industry topic” is that students are positioning themselves for a job at the company. In addition, they are often paid for student work at the company. The Prüfungsordnung is also very clear on this: A final thesis cannot be paid work. A student who provides as a final thesis paid-for-by-industry work has failed the thesis requirements. The little blurp that students sign when handing in the thesis checks-up on exactly this condition.

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Bachelor and Master Theses on Product Management

We currently have plenty of Bachelor and Master Thesis opportunities available that focus on product management. Specifically, these are case-writing theses. In such a thesis, you will work with an industry partner (and us) to analyse a specific situation that the industry partner once faced. Typically, that situation was about making a difficult decision. The industry partner provides the specifics of the situation and we help you with the underlying concepts needed to analyse the situation. The result of your work is a “case” that describes the situation and that we intend to use in future teaching. The case will be made available for free.

Please let us know if you are interested. Just send an email to Prof. Riehle. Also, a great way to get started or just get an impression is to take the Product Management seminar.

Thesis Opportunity: Should You Disrupt Your Customers?

Herr Meier was staring at this quarter’s revenue numbers for their enterprise software product. He should be very happy: Substantial maintenance revenue from several large customers was making the product profitable. Yet he wasn’t. A deluge of one-off change requests from these large customers was stifling product innovation, threating to make the product fall behind the competition. Yet, they had to support their customers or face substantial revenue shortfalls. In this Master Thesis, you will retrace the steps of Herr Meier, the chief product strategist of a company local to the region, and analyze the situation. You will have to understand and describe the complex situation of a successful software product facing multiple options for future evolution and argue the pros and cons of any such option. Finally, you will write up the situation as a Business school case [1] to be used in future product management classes at our university.

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Thesis Opportunity: To Open Source or Not to Open Source

About two years ago, a company local to the Nuremberg area had to make a decision whether to open source their closed source enterprise software. This is a difficult decision: Does open sourcing mean you’ll lose your bread-winning revenue streams? Or will you open up new markets and win big? In this Master Thesis, you will retrace the steps of this company and how it came to make its decision. You will have to gather and review the underlying economic concepts that drive commercial open source. A core part of the thesis will the writing of a “business case” following the Harvard Business School Case Method [1] to illustrate the situation the company was facing. This case will be used in teaching Product Management at our university in the future [2].

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Thesis Opportunity: An Experiment in German-Chinese Collaboration

Some software firms move some or all of their software development to foreign nations to take advantage of lower labor costs in those other countries. One example are German firms performing joint software development projects with firms located in China. While financially attractive, such projects are difficult to realize, and many projects fail. This Master Thesis provides a literature and conceptual review of the challenges of distributed development and international project management between Germany and China, and will conduct an experiment in distributed projects between two software engineering classes, one held at University of Erlangen, and one held at Tsinghua University. The experiment will test a particular hypothesis as to what makes such projects more effective and reports about the results of the experiment.

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Zwei nebenberufliche Promotionsthemen: Gamification und Sensemaking

Wir möchten hiermit zwei Forschungsthemen ausschreiben für Softwareentwickler, die gern nebenberuflich promovieren möchten. Die zwei Forschungsgebiete sind:

  • Gamification von Geschäftsoftware. Fragestellung: Wie sieht die Benutzungsschnittstelle der Geschäftssoftware der Zukunft aus? Welche psychologischen Aspekte und Elemente aus Benutzungsschnittstellen von Spielen verwendet sie? (Stichwort Gamification.)
  • Sensemaking von Nutzungsdaten von Geschäftssoftware. Fragestellung: Anonymisiertes Tracking, Analyse, und Aufbereitung des Nutzerverhaltens von Geschäftssoftware zwecks Verbesserung dieser Software; Ableitung von Trends aufgrund von Nutzungsverhalten. (Stichwort Sensemaking.)

Die im Rahmen der Promotion (unter Betreuung durch Prof. Riehle) zu entwickelnden Theorien sollen an einem konkreten Beispiel erprobt werden, dem Mydosis Community-Portal für praktizierende Kinderärzte (Kurzbeschreibung von Mydosis). Bei Interesse wenden Sie sich bitte an Prof. Riehle.

Zwei Abschlussarbeitsausschreibungen / Two Final Thesis Opportunities

Hier zwei beispielhafte Ausschreibungen für mögliche Abschlussarbeiten (Bachelor-, Diplom-, Master-Arbeiten) für Informatiker bei der Open Source Research Group der FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg:

Wie immer freuen wir uns auch über Ihre Vorschläge; alle Arbeiten können nach Ihrem Vorzug in Deutsch oder Englisch vollzogen werden.

Student Thesis: Continuous Deployment

Summary: Continuous deployment is the name of an engineering practice where a commit to a project’s code repository is put into production without any intermediate human intervention. It is the next step after continuous integration and it is all the rage in agile methods circles and for web applications. This (Studien/Diplom/Bachelor/Master) thesis reviews the current practice of continuous deployment and applies it to the Open Source Research Group’s software projects.

Read more on /fun or contact Prof. Riehle