How to come up with a topic for your thesis

Depending on the level of your studies, you will be required to come up with a topic for your thesis by yourself or to choose from a list of broad topics. In either case, you will need to first, choose a specific scope and second, narrow it down as much as you can.

Finding a topic that suits you

In any case, you can start by asking yourself if you’ve attended any lecture where you were particularly interested in a certain subject and go from there. The following questions might help you shine a light on personal topics of interest.

  • What aspect of your studies holds a particular interest for you?
  • Was something mentioned in a discussion that you found intriguing?
  • Did you read about a theory or idea that spoke to you?

Ideas for a thesis can stem from many sources, so let your mind wander and see if anything tickles your curiosity. A thesis is a chance for you to spend some quality time with a certain aspect of your studies, so you better think of a topic that not only appeals to you but will also help you grow in your field.

The easiest method to choose a thesis topic

We can all agree that choosing a topic for a thesis or any paper is one, if not the most, difficult steps in writing. However, according to Sahlman's "How to write a Master Thesis fast", choosing a topic for your thesis is rather easy if you focus on the three following areas:

  1. Phenomenon
  2. Point of view
  3. Context

Suppose that you were to focus on a specific phenomenon as the center of your thesis. For example, "queer rights" or "climate change". Next, you choose a point of view. From what perspective do you see the phenomenon? For instance, “American culture” or “legally/ financially”. Finally, you narrow it down to a particular context, such as “from 2000 to 2010” or “small German enterprises in 2017”.

By combining the examples of these three areas, we come up with two potential thesis topics:

The development of queer rights in American culture from 2000 to 2010

Emerging climate change regulations of small German enterprises in 2017

The topic doesn't need to be perfect at first. The idea is to brainstorm with the topics that most interest you in the beginning and slowly come up with with a compelling topic you can brag about at friends dinner parties. Here is a list of the top 100 research paper topics for some inspiration.

How to choose a thesis topic that will get you a job

If you will be writing extensively about a specific topic it does not only have to meet the requirements of the academia but it should also expand your professional horizons. According to the article how to pick a masters thesis topic, you should be thinking beyond the completion of your degree. The author states "use your time as a student to make yourself as attractive to employers as possible." In order to achieve this, make sure that at least one of the three components (phenomenon, point of view and context) is of interest in your desired professional field.

For example, the thesis topics mentioned above would be of great help to people interested in working in the field of human rights and climate change. By choosing a thesis topic related to your professional future, your chances of landing your desired job will be higher, as you could bring fresh and valuable knowledge to an organization.

Ask your supervisor for help!

If your topic is still not fully shaped, then take advantage of the greater wisdom of your supervisor and ask for guidance. Arm yourself with enough possible topics and pay your supervisor a visit. Explain what´s your specific point of view and/or context of interest and, luckily, they will steer you in the right direction.

Found my thesis topic, now what?

It is certainly not enough to find a topic for your thesis. You also need to make sure that it is a relevant topic and that you will be able to develop it. Before you start your research, take look at this list of questions to ask to find out if the topic for your thesis is good.

Further great tips on finding a thesis topic