Guidelines for writing a BA/ MA/ ALM Thesis at our Professorship for Christian Social Ethics and Social Policy

Guidelines for writing a BA/ MA Thesis

a) We regularly publish a list with possible topics stemming from Organizational Ethics and CSR, sustainable management, Practical wisdom, sustainable finance, value-based management in Family firms, work-life-balance, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Social Impact Start-ups etc. Beyond those, individually chose topics can be discussed with Prof. Habisch (MA Thesis) and with the assistants (BA Thesis).

b) Crucial requirement is the active reception of high-ranking journal articles. We expect approx. 5-10 articles for a BA and 10-15 articles for an MA thesis, which you are working with actively.

c) We will publish a list for formal requirement at the website, but they are not  obligatory. A BA thesis normally covers around 45 pages (appendix included).

d) It is only possible to author a MA thesis in the form of a Journal article. In this case, the manuscript will cover 45 p. and has to be structured according to the publication guidelines of the targeted Journal. Assessment is independent from the publication.

e) We especially encourage Chinese students (regular and exchange) who want to dedicate their thesis to a topic from the wide range of Sustainability. The ‘Competence unit Sustainability in China’ at our professorship provides possibilities and contact with practitioners and academic colleagues from different parts of China.

f) Moreover, students who have visited a ‘Social Innovation I’ course, are also entitled to author an MA thesis based on action learning in partnership with a Social Impact Start-up (SIST). Authored in that form, the thesis will consist in 2 power point presen-tations and an extended work report, which reflects the conceptual, practical, and implementation–related work done for the SIST and his/ her organization. For that process, we will mediate a contact with a SIST, organize a 60-90 min Q&A session with her/ him and ensure regular contact and exchange possibilities. Results of this form of MA thesis will also be published within and benefit from the Social Impact Start-up Academy (SISTAC).

g) Requirements for the thesis formation

  • sufficient page margins (left 2.0 cm, right 2.0cm, top 2.5cm and bottom 2cm, respectively), correct line spacing (1.5-times) as well as a font of 12pt in font Arial/Calibri. In addition, the text should use full justification and auto-hyphenation should be activated.
  • The title page should contain the following information:

1.    the name of the professorship
2.    the topic of the seminar paper
3.    the submission deadline
4.    the name of the supervising lecturer
5.    Author’s information: first name, surname, address, telephone number, email and student number

  •  APA or Harvard citation styles are recommended.
  •  Declaration of authorship should be included after the reference list


Guidelines for writing an Action Learning Module Master's Thesis

Based on the collaboration of the WWF with the BAYER Foundations and the conception of the Social Innovation Seminars (since WS 2018/19), the professorship has developed the concept of an Action Learning Master Thesis (ALM) in spring 2020. The pedagogical goal here is to involve students primarily of the MA specialization 'Entrepreneurship & Innovation' (also open to master students of WFI with other specializations) in cooperation with a Social Impact Start-up (SIST) in an action context where learning processes are self-directed. For this purpose, the master thesis will be divided into the following 4 elements:

  1. After a personal introduction of the student by the supervisor at the SIST (phone calls or a ZOOM conference), there are initially 3-4 weeks for the intensive examination and testing of the SIST business model. After that, the student himself/herself presents a proposal to the SIST as well as to the supervisor in a first PowerPoint presentation of about 30 minutes, what he/she intends to do for the SIST based on the knowledge acquired during the study.
  2. In a short theory paper (8-10 pages), the student outlines the underlying social problem area in which the SIST is traveling, drawing on scholarly journal literature.
  3. During the actual five months of working on the self-developed concept, the student keeps a detailed project diary ('logbook'), outlining each new piece of information gained and its consequence for the self-directed context of action. This is always done 'in real time' - thus also accepting possible changes in direction of the action and planning strand in the case of a corresponding change in the information situation. The project diary concludes with a multi-page reflection on the student's own learning process - including the problems that arose and the desiderata for the design of the learning process that the student derives from this.
  4. At the end of the work the student withdraws to the position of the external consultant and hands over the result step by step to the SIST in a final PowerPoint presentation.

The above four elements are submitted and evaluated together to the professor as a bound master's thesis. According to the examination regulations, the total working time at the ALM amounts to approx. 900 hours (30 ECTS à 30 hours). The following elements accompany the ALM process:

  1. A group discussion (jour fix) with the supervisor (ALM chat), which takes place every two weeks, offers students the opportunity for queries, exchange, mutual support and reflection on their own progress.
  2. During the work phase, the student posts a monthly feed on his/her Linked-In account, from which the progress becomes transparent.


Writing an MA Thesis at the Professorship

The Master's thesis is an essential part of your MA program: it accounts for 30 ECTS (25% of your total credits). In addition, the title of the Master's thesis is explicitly published on your degree certificate and thus contributes to the attractiveness of your application. Finally, writing the MA thesis regularly takes up an entire semester at the end of your studies and should demonstrate your ability to independently examine and work on a theoretical or practical issue. Context and topic should therefore be chosen very carefully - considering your theoretical interests, but also your future professional ambitions.


Due to the research focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, sustainability management, sustainable products, value-based management in SMEs, practical wisdom, etc., the professorship regularly supervises many MA theses. Generally, we offer two different formats for this:


(a) An action-learning MA thesis (in cooperation with the Bayer Foundations).

We set up this special format primarily for ENTRE MA students who have already attended the compulsory seminar 'Social Innovation I' (but other disciplines are also admitted on request). It is aimed at business students who are very practically minded and want to address the above challenge, but also create tangible value for a partner in need (here: a social impact start-up entrepreneur from Africa). For more information on this format, please see the document ...


  1. a) A theoretical/conceptual MA thesis (based on high-level academic journal literature). This format is aimed at students who enjoy writing academic texts and want to contribute to academic knowledge building in a specific field: Among others, students who want to write a doctoral thesis in the future are addressed here. Recently, our faculty council decided to remove the minimum number of pages from the module description for the MA thesis. As a result of this decision and in order to provide students with a comprehensive qualification, we are asking MA students to write their thesis in the form of a journal article. The logic behind this requirement is that journal article writing is now compulsory for any academic qualification; yet many students still find this requirement a barrier to engaging with academic work. As a result, important and potentially fruitful research by MA students is not pub-lished, but rots in university drawers. In contrast, students who engage in this process can increase their academic qualifications beyond the MA degree as such; for example, they can significantly increase their acceptance as PhD students or for any kind of academic position in the future.
  2. The process requires MA students to target a specific journal for publication of their manuscript; the name of the journal must be mentioned on the first page of the submitted manuscript. Consequently, the formal requirements (e.g. number of pages, citation style, typography, etc.) of the MA thesis must also follow the guidelines of the respective journal. As a rule, students are free to choose the journal - they select those in which they find relevant articles on their topic. Realistically, however, they should generally not target journals that are ranked higher than C or B- in the VHB Journal Quality List IV: .

However, writing the MA thesis in a journal format does not mean that MA students have to wait for their thesis to be accepted by the journal! At this stage, they are not yet PhD students! Rather, they submit their manuscript as described, it is assessed and the MA thesis process is complete. However, for very good papers, an additional internal review process is offered to prepare a final submission to the desired journal. Sceptics can be assured that MA theses have already been successfully placed in the addressed journal after such a procedure - which, of course, significantly increased the academic qualification of the author.


Formalities for Scientific Papers Submitted in Writing to the Professorship