Thesis Proposal – University of Copenhagen

How to prepare a thesis proposal

Applicants to the Master of Disaster Management (MDMa) are asked to prepare a draft thesis proposal of 2-4 pages (no more, no less), based on a field study or on a critical review of articles referring to a relevant problem within Disaster Management. A draft thesis proposal must be presented by the applicant in order for the application for the MDMa to be considered.

WHY is a draft thesis proposal required

  • Experiences from Master's Programmes indicate that a subject for a Master's Thesis must be identified early on

  • The proposal is taken into consideration when evaluating the academic skills and qualifications of each applicant

  • The applicants have the opportunity to present their proposal

As there is limited time the proposal should follow the guidelines described here, and if it does not meet the minimum standards, the applicant may be asked to re-write it or it may even lead to an application being rejected. We therefore urge you to be careful when formulating your proposal.

HOW is a draft thesis designed

The working title could be something like:

  1. A critical review: "Lessons learned from the Tsunami and the Rwanda crises – why does history repeat itself "
    • "Camp management – the Darfur example"
    • "Prevention and treatment of childhood diarrhoea in an emergency"
    • "Development and resilience – how can they be interlinked?"
    • "Optimizing Civil-military collaboration and communication "
  2. Formulate the problem to be studied.
  3. Explain the objective(s) of the study.
  4. List the material (data, sources) you expect to use/collect and explain the theories/methods to be used for the study: Old (retrospective) or new (prospective); quantitative (statistics, simple questionnaires, etc.) or qualitative (in-depth analyses of limited number of samples or in-depth interviews, etc., or both); desk study (e.g. analyzing existing guidelines or policies). If you are not familiar with the field of disaster management, this may require some literature search and reading. Remember to refer to relevant literature.
  5. Indicate whether the proposal may need acceptance from authorities, people, or patients.

Useful Hints

It is recommended that you select a subject in which you may already have collected some data, or that you use a concrete example of a Disaster-related problem which you have worked with. If you are short of ideas, do not panic, but think of the disaster problems in your area of the world, including problems related to management.


  • The draft thesis proposal is, like it says, a draft. This means, that while it should reflect that you are able to put together a suggestion for a viable research topic and how to approach the project, most of the draft thesis proposals we receive need to be revised to some degree – and that is fine. During your studies at the MDMa programme, you will be given tools and guidance on how to narrow down your topic, choose the right methods, etc. Therefore, the draft thesis proposal is primarily meant to be a help to design your study optimally and you are allowed to change your thesis topic after embarking on your MDMa studies.

  • You can decide to change the subject of your thesis during the first semester in the programme and do not necessarily have to stick to the proposal you hand in as part of your application.

  • If you are a sponsored student we will advise you to discuss with your sponsor whether you should write your thesis within a specific field.

  • Please note that expenses related to draft thesis work are not covered by the course fee.


The University of Copenhagen, with its commitment to high standards of academic integrity, regards plagiarism as a very serious offence. Plagiarism is defined as using someone else's work as your own, without citing the source. This includes direct copying, rephrasing, and summarizing, as well as taking someone else's idea and putting it in different words. Students who practice plagiarism may be expelled.