#8 – Critical Evaluation of a Master’s Thesis

Evaluate critically a master’s thesis/diploma thesis from your own research area submitted to a foreign or Austrian university/university of applied sciences (no thesis written at FH JOANNEUM).

Chosen Thesis:

Design in the Anthropocene, Broadening Human-Centred Design by Shreya Sood Aalto University

Level of design:

The design of this Master Thesis comply with the general rules of a Master Thesis, where no “design layout” is required or even accepted. In these cases there are sometimes two versions, the official and the designed one, however I could not find another (designed) work within my research. The thesis was written in a serif font for the continuous text as well as for headlines. In my perspective a variation would have been nice, however, it seems like it was restricted to a certain design layout.

Degree of innovation:

Regarding the degree of innovation it can be said, that the topic illustrated in the thesis is very contemporary and future oriented, and thus has a high degree of innovation, as it focus on the improvement of an actual improvement process (how and if people become more sustainable through design, in particular when following the Human Centered Design approach that is well known and accepted). Additionally the starting point was a self study, or reflection on the person’s own process of three projects that were developed during the study year 2020 and its outcomes, followed up by interviews of peers who experienced the same projects. Before this thesis I never came across an applicable example where Auto-ethnography was used as a qualitative research method, which makes it even more innovative speaking for my own experiences, which is of course not comparable to everyone’s.


A big plus for the independency criteria is already the chosen method of self study and faking it I actually picture very difficult. The amount of references added in the bibliography and some spot checks I did, additionally resulted in a high quality of rephrasing and citation.

Outline and structure:

The front page as well as the title page are included and on the correct spot within the thesis. Besides these elements, also the structure is clear and in order. The abstract is before the table of content and is not listed within it. It is only written in English, so the native language (Finnish) is perhaps missing. The table of content gives a clear overview, is numbered, but not linked to the dedicated chapters. After the introduction the topic is introduced, next chapter incorporates the theoretical background, followed by detailed insights in the methodology and findings that can be deduced from this mapped to the Research Questions. Within the next chapter the discussion happens and the content part closes regularly with the discussion. In the end of the structure the list of references and appendix is placed.

The naming of the chapters is very straight forward, sometimes for my personal taste a little to general. Positively to mention is that the graphics within the work show the same illustration style and thus are consistent and standardized.

Degree of communication:

The work was written at the Finnish university Aalto, Helsinki within the program Creative Sustainability. The written language is English, of the level B2 and at some points on the edge to C1, however the writing style is still comprehensible and not too complex in the length of the sentences for example. The content was drew up objectively, but within the introduction where the personal approach for the self study was stated out, the reader could still sympathize with the author on a personal level.

Scope of the work:

In total the thesis encompasses 85 pages, 71 for the actual content (from introduction to end of conclusion). It has a similar scope to the requirements of the Master Thesis we will write. Additionally the pages between the chapters are pro rata balanced.

Orthography and accuracy:

I could not find typos or sloppy mistakes when reading through it, so from my point of view it is of high quality also in this area. However as I am not an English native speaker I would not completely rely on this estimation.


Five pages are dedicated only to the list of references. I would estimate the quantity of resources reasonable to the scope of the thesis. The list consists to approximately one half of scientific papers / articles , one third of internet resources, whereas the rest are books. It has a great variety and the resource spot check was promising in terms of quality too.

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