English-language bachelor thesis without dictionary

Until a few years ago, studies were ended with a diploma thesis or a master’s degree. With the so-called Bologna reform, this system was switched to separate courses for Bachelor and Master. Although some universities still offer the traditional degrees, this is not really recommendable, as these programs are phased out. By contrast, the system of Master’s and Bachelor’s degree has not only been successful in English-speaking countries for decades, but also offers very high international acceptance of the degrees. So you can write an English-language bachelor thesis.

So why not write the bachelor thesis in English?

With an English-language bachelor’s thesis (this of course also applies to the postgraduate master’s thesis), not only can the international recognition of one’s degree be increased, but many German companies also rate this achievement very positively. Fortunately, many German universities offer this possibility. If the desire for an English thesis is already known before the beginning of the study, it is of course obvious to ask the university beforehand.

Important notes for an English-language bachelor thesis

But before now, if these possibilities set the euphoria, some things should be noted:

Do not overdo your school English. Although English may have been a favorite subject with good grades, in many cases the level of academic knowledge is insufficient for scientific work.

It is ideal if a seminar paper has already been written in English and graded with good grades.

It should be urgently planned that a foreign-language work almost always involves a greater amount of time. Here, too, a previous term paper can provide good clues.

Search in time for the interview with the supervising professor. Not every subject makes an English-language job useful. As a rule of thumb, if the sources to be used are predominantly in English (as is often the case, for example, in computer science or business administration), an English-language work is an option. If, however, one writes on a topic with a strong connection to Germany (for example, in German studies or law), it should be checked in advance.

The bachelor thesis

Basically, the same criteria have to be fulfilled for an English-language bachelor thesis as for a German-language work: conclusive thesis, well-researched sources and, of course, correct citation. Of course, the work must also be done independently.

A note on the edge: One should choose a narrowly limited topic, a bachelor thesis is not a dissertation, it is expected no scientific research services.

Whether the same formal requirements apply to English-language work as to German-language work can not be answered universally, since this varies from university to university. Here is a look into the appropriate examination regulations. Many universities award extra points for foreign-language work in the evaluation, but only if in addition to the content and the linguistic quality is right, so it is advisable to schedule this a certain time cushion.

Write immediately in English

It also has to be decided in advance whether British or American English should be used, it is considered a pretty bad style to mix these two variants. It has proven to be useful to use English as a language already in the preparatory work, notes, summaries or drafts. It “grows” in this way, so to speak into the English final text, which makes the work much easier.

It should absolutely be avoided that the work should be written in German and then translated into English. With this approach, it is practically certain that specific features of the German language are carried into the text. These errors can later only be removed from the text with considerable effort and possibly make a complete revision necessary for individual sections. At many universities there are groups organized by the Student Counseling Centers, where you can discuss the specific challenges of an English-language thesis. Participation in such a group is strongly recommended.

Tools for your English-language bachelor thesis

It goes without saying that a good bilingual dictionary is required (preferably from a well-known publisher such as Langenscheidt or Pons), and furthermore a specialist dictionary is required. Also, a good monolingual dictionary should not be missing, the example sentences there often provide valuable assistance with stylistic issues. It must be condemned by most on the Internet free of charge available offers, here one has to do it often with a very strongly fluctuating quality. If you would like to approach the project very professionally, you should refer to the “Chicago Style Manual” for American English, which is the reference for scientific and discursive texts in American English.

Of course, a computer is used for the work (a matter of course, which one hardly dares write down), here it makes sense to install in the used word processor the English spell checker and set as default. Further measures are not required. If you want to save yourself unnecessary stress, do not use a new, freshly purchased system for a thesis if possible, but uses a system that already has several months of experience.

Editing and proofreading

Here must be carefully distinguished between proofreader and editor.

A corrector examines and corrects the text regarding orthographic, typographical and grammatical errors, no further influence takes place. The use of such a service is not only allowed, but also clearly required in the case of an English-language work. You should have a native speaker, but you do not have to have knowledge of the subject. Good proofreaders are not cheap, but it should be remembered that the result of a thesis may be due to his or her entire professional life, and here to forego pronounced thriftiness.

An editor, on the other hand, has a much greater influence on the text, he corrects the style, text design and, under certain circumstances, the textual structure of the text. That may sound tempting, but it can be problematic. In the case of scientific theses an independent performance is mandatory, the use of a lecturer risks to come into conflict with this requirement. In the case of ambiguity, consultation with the supervising professor is required in any case. If a lecturer is employed, then he should be a native speaker and should have appropriate knowledge of the field. Even good editors are not cheap, who can (and may) use this service, should plan a suitable budget.

In a nutshell: An English-language thesis offers many opportunities and is increasingly standard in the scientific and technical disciplines. However, avoid rash decisions and, very importantly, make use of the available counseling services. Hopefully, this little handout already provides an introduction to the key factors for a successful English-language bachelor thesis.

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