Toward Selecting the Titles of Theses in Department of Architecture and Urbanism Emerging the Supervisors’ Experiences :A Grounded Theory Study

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Architecture & urban planning, shahid Beheshti University


Master’s thesis is the main research activity in the master’s degree courses; hence the thesis preparation process, particularity the topic selection step, is of great significance. A literature review reveals a lack of adequate research on master’s theses in the fields of architecture and urbanism in Iran, especially about the topic selection process. This research aims to inquire into the School of Architecture and Urbanism academic staff’s experiences regarding the master’s thesis topic selection process and to develop a paradigm model or a conceptual framework to represent and explain their experiences. This research is a grounded theory study. The research respondents are twenty-three academic staff with considerable experiences in supervising master’s theses from different Departments of the School. The data were collected using semi-structured interviews. The recorded interviews were transcribed and used a systematic coding process, a content analysis was carried out, and a paradigm model was extracted. Generally speaking, the research findings indicate that the participants have experienced a “lack of formal and explicit strategy for thesis topic selection in the School” as the “core category” or the main phenomenon. This study also indicates that in the absence of a formal-explicit strategy or a meaning-giving Big Picture, the supervisors have highly relied upon their own tacit knowledge and personal views regarding the definition and mission of master’s thesis, achieving a multitude of not necessarily coordinated enough, individual-implicit strategies to inform their decisions. The causal conditions and the contextual conditions leading to the formation of the “core category” include: non-critical adoption from international universities’ curricula; lack of strong institutional relations among university, industry, government, and community; diversity of disciplinary cultures in the School; personal tendencies of the supervisors; and instability in the governing by-laws and academic administration. The main consequence caused by such conditions has been the emergence of a host of un-related and island-like pieces of research carried out by different Departments and a lack of synergetic accumulation of the master’s theses research results. This study implies the significance of achieving a “common understanding” of the definition ,and the mission of a master’s thesis among the School’s academic staff.


Main Subjects

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 21 August 2023
  • Receive Date: 08 February 2022
  • Revise Date: 17 August 2022
  • Accept Date: 20 August 2023