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					Term Papers in the Bachelor Course of Environmental Sciences Information for Students and Lecturers
During the Bachelor programme two term papers will be written of 5 KP each: one in social sciences or in humanities and the other one in natural sciences or in a technical field. These papers are normally written in the third year. It is however possible to start during the second year.

Study Aim
By composing term papers, students learn to tackle an initial question with appropriate methods and to build upon existing knowledge in the literature. The outputs can take the form of empirical research, literature reviews, planning, creative tasks as well as practical projects, which can be done individually or in groups.

Term Paper in Social Sciences or Humanities
A term paper in the field of social sciences or in humanities is based on an initial question which is approached with relevant research methods. Aspects concerning technical or environmental sciences can be included inter- or transdisciplinarily, but should not be the main focus. The work is always accredited to the chosen module (economics, political and social sciences, individual sciences or social sciences and humanities). It is supervised by a lecturer of the environmental social sciences or of the GESS department. Exceptions need to be authorised by Prof. Gertrude Hirsch, study advisor for social sciences and humanities ( If the supervisor is not an ETH lecturer, the form " Supervisors who are not selectable with myStudies " should be completed (

Term Paper in Environmental Sciences or in a Technical Field
A term paper in environmental sciences deals with new developments or applications of natural science, preferably with regard to the environment. It encompasses realization, analysis and interpretation of natural science research. A term paper in the field of environmental engineering looks into the environmental impacts of a specific utilisation of the environment. It can take the form of an analysis, an evaluation or the future design of a usage. Collaboration with social stakeholders is possible within this structure. A lecturer in a natural science, environmental system or technical area has to supervise the work. Exceptions need to be authorised by Dr. Christian Pohl, study advisor for environmental sciences and technical fields ( If the supervisor is not an ETH lecturer, the form "Supervisors who are not selectable with myStudies " should be followed (

Structure and Scope of the Term Paper
A term paper normally consists of an illustrated text of 20 – 30 pages. Papers written in groups should be more comprehensive. The designated workload is 150 hours per student. The term paper should be similar in structure to a scientific publication, specialist or environmental report etc. In agreement with the supervisor, it is however possible to use other structures. In the past, students have, for e.g., created homepages, developed index cards for the vehicle fleet of Mobility, planned, executed and evaluated projects for the local application of Agenda 21, rehearsed role plays or have even composed screenplays. In general, at least one of the term papers should follow a scientific structure.

Topic choice
Students will choose a lecturer and define a concept with him/her containing the topic and structure of their work. Students then need to register electronically over myStudies for the paper in question and also choose the supervising lecturer (note: registration for the term paper in social sciences or in humanities within the chosen module!). If the expert advisor has authorised “external supervision”, Prof. Gertrude Hirsch has to be chosen as a “lecturer” for papers in social sciences or in humanities, and Dr. Christian Pohl for papers in environmental sciences or in a technical field.

Genehmigt durch die Unterrichtskommission D-UWIS am 14.11.08

Supervision of the papers
In general, at least three discussions with the chosen lecturer should take place. If necessary, further meetings can be held. The discussions should include the following:  Initial discussion: Guidelines, expectations of the lecturers, possibly special standards, scope of work, working plan, important literature. The "Template of a written agreement regarding an independent work project" can be used as a starting point.  Intermediate discussion: Determining whether work is on track, the topic is being handled correctly, with appropriate means and in sufficient detail, any further problems or questions.  Discussion at the end of the work: Detailed feedback concerning content and formal qualities of the term paper, option to complete and correct the work. Thereafter, the final version, together with the signed information notice on plagiarism ( is handed in and assessed by the lecturer. Usually students receive a written comment or a further meeting is arranged to allow for a final discussion.

The lecturer should assess the term paper within four weeks after the submission of the final version if no other arrangement was made. The assessment is based on the following criteria: 1. Level of insight  Extent to which the initial question has been answered  Originality of the work  Practical relevance of the results (especially for papers in technical fields)  Claims and conclusions are based on facts and arguments 2. Transparency/Reproducibility  Data and statements are supported by sources and written in own words or cited appropriately.  The data evaluation and interpretation is done correctly.  Definite knowledge, facts and school of thoughts are clearly separated from speculation and personal thoughts  It is apparent which methods or theoretical principles have been employed 3. Communicational quality of the paper  The paper is structured logically and written comprehensively and for the appropriate audience  The results are arranged clearly  There is a meaningful summary  The layout is appropriate 4. Formal quality of the paper  The rules of citation are respected  Correct grammar, spelling and punctuation are used 5. Independence of the student during the working process A number of example papers (of which 6 have been assessed) can be viewed at the green library (CHN building, on H floor).

Announcements of grades by lecturer
As soon as the mark has been determined, the lecturer records it on eDoz, “Leistungskontrolle > Noten liefern Semester>>” (=Semester at the outset of the work process!; After correct registration with myStudies, the name of the student should appear under “…Selbstständige Arbeit…” for the entry of the mark). Non-ETH lecturers send their proposed mark together with a copy of the paper to the study advisor using the official form (downloadable from

Submission of copies of coversheets of both term papers
Copies of the coversheets of both term papers have to be handed in together with the application for the bachelor certificate at the study course secretariat (cp. study guide). The following information has to be listed: Name of the author, title “Term Paper in the Field of …”, name of the supervising lecturer and year. The main title should be no longer than 60-70 characters, as the title of the papers is registered in a database.

Further Information
 Wisch, Learning platform for scientific writing for Bachelor students (available FS 2010) 

Genehmigt durch die Unterrichtskommission D-UWIS am 14.11.08