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Dissertation Guidelines

Dissertation Supervision

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Seminars are the recommended dissertation process for all MSc students.

A Dissertation Seminar is a small group of students that are developing dissertations in related topics, all supervised by one faculty member, who will be their advisor.

Dissertation Seminars are effective because they are specifically designed and structured to follow your entire dissertation process and to ensure that you receive continuous feedback and support during the development of your final work.

Seminars usually last three to four months, and throughout this time you will have instructor-led sessions, group discussions, and individual meetings. You will also have the chance to present parts of your work, allowing you to receive feedback from both your advisor and your colleagues.

Students are expected to attend all sessions.

The list of available seminars can be consulted here.

If a student chooses the Independent process route, they are responsible for determining the topic or topics of interest, and to find a CATÓLICA-LISBON professor that is willing to serve as an advisor on that topic, or is willing to propose an alternative topic.

MSc students should only follow an independent process in exceptional circumstances. 

Please bear in mind, that students often found it difficult to find a suitable faculty member that is both an expert in the area a student wants to work in and also has the time to supervise individual students. In most cases, faculty members are already fully committed in terms of their academic duties.

The Católica-Lisbon faculty members  list can be found in our website, link here.

In order to apply for an Independent Process, you must prepare a dissertation proposal using the recommended template here, and submit it to the Master Affairs department utilizing the registration form.


The document must be signed by the student and the advisor, and delivered until the deadline. Please keep in mind that you also need to submit the advisor written consent (example: the email transcript saved in PDF format). 

The Academic Director will then review your proposal and approve or not approve your document.

For information regarding the Independent Process deadlines and other relevant dates, please click here.

It is important to meet early with your supervisor to clarify the objectives and methods of the proposed dissertation, and to agree on a timetable for future deadlines and meetings. If a student is not enrolled in a dissertation seminar, he or she should take the initiative to arrange this and other meetings.

Your supervisor will comment on your ideas, suggest readings, and advise you on major challenges. Your supervisor is not expected to provide you with a list of all required readings. Your supervisor will normally comment on a close-to-final draft.

However, it is not his/her job to edit, revise, or write any part of your dissertation. The role of the supervisor is to guide you through the process, answer questions, and provide advice and expertise, while at the same time ensuring that the dissertation will be mainly based on your own work and ideas. It is up to you to implement the suggestions you receive.

The quality of the dissertation is defined not only by its content, but also by the way the content is presented and communicated. It is your responsibility to assure the quality of your written communication.

Content and Standard of the Dissertation

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A Master's dissertation must demonstrate that the student has not just acquired significant knowledge but is also able to apply it to address a theoretical or applied problem.

The dissertation should relate to the content of one or more courses of the MSc program. It is expected to review relevant literature, have a central integrating argument, and include an original contribution.

A good dissertation poses an interesting, focused question, and answers it through argumentation using strong foundations in areas of management, finance, and economics and the use of primary and secondary research.

Most students pose a question on a theoretical or empirical issue, and develop their dissertation under the supervision of a faculty member (or under the co-supervision of a faculty member with a non-faculty member), usually through a dissertation seminar but sometimes individually.

  • It is recommended that you work on your dissertation full-time for 3 to 4 months.
  • During this period you will be working with CTO (Career and Talent Office) to define your final placement.
  • Although some students need to take MSc courses during the dissertation semester in order to complete their study plan, you should try to minimize the courses taken and make sure it is no more than two courses per trimester (or two semester-long courses).
  • The internship should have an average weekly workload of 20-25 hours (with a maximum of 30 hours).
  • Please take into account that you need to dedicate at least 20 hours per week to your dissertation to complete it within a reasonable time frame.
  • We do not recommend that you do an internship during your dissertation semester.

Past experiences with internships that were really full-time jobs have created severe problems concerning the ability to successfully complete the MSc program.


White, B., & Rayner, S. (2014). Dissertation Skills: For Business and Management Students (2nd ed.). Cengage Learning EMEA.


Some of these databases can only be accessed if you are on the UCP campus or if you are using the UCP proxy (instructions here).

UCP Institutional Repository

You can consult all of the MSc dissertations written at CATÓLICA-LISBON on the UCP Institutional Repository.

You can also browse by advisor here, searching for the professor’s last name.

Please note that some dissertations will have restricted or embargoed access. This information can be consulted in the UCP Institutional Repository in the “Access type" column.


If you are working remotely make sure you install the VPN connection. This content can be found, on our webpage “IT Resources at CATÓLICA-LISBON”, here.

SPSS & Stata

Please download and install SPSS by using one of the following links:

Open "IBM SPSS Statistics 2x License Authorization Wizard" and follow these steps:

  • Select "Next" at the first windows that appear.
  • Copy "Lock Code for this machine" and send it to us by email.
  • Mark the option "Authorized user license" and select "next”.
  • Wait for the registration code that we will provide you and type it in the field "enter code”.
  • Select next e confirm that the registration was successful.

 After finishing the installation, please send an email to using your UCP email with the "Lock Code for this machine" so that they can generate the individual key and provide you the registration code,

You can also use SPSS and Stata via CITRIX – instructions here.


Create an account – instructions here.


Sources and Plagiarism

The data used in your dissertation can be primary data and/or secondary data.

Primary data are data collected by the researcher for the specific purpose of addressing the problem at hand. This includes data collected through surveys, experiments, or interviews. The collection and use of primary data is encouraged but is not a requirement.

Secondary data are data that have already been collected for purposes other than your dissertation (for example, published statistical data, data in annual reports, a public database, or data in journal articles). You are expected to identify and acknowledge major sources of secondary data relating to your topic and to refer to important literature relating to your research question.

You must properly acknowledge the secondary sources (i.e., when you did not conduct data collection yourself) of any data, ideas, or other material. Plagiarism is a major concern in all academic work.

Master’s thesis/dissertation will be checked for plagiarism as part of the evaluation process.

Dissertations are considered “critical” if they exceed the following values:

  • Overall similarity index ≥ 35%
  • Similarity index in relation to the primary source ≥ 5%

Dissertations that exceed these values will be rejected, delaying your dissertation defence and, as a result, the conclusion of your MSc program

TURNITIN- software

You must upload your thesis/dissertation to the Plagiarism-Detection Software, a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes before the thesis and documents submission on the Official Platform. 

The Master programs have different class IDs and keys, as provided in the table. Make sure you use the correct ID and key when submitting your document.


Class ID


Master Program in Economics



Master Programs in Finance



Master Programs in Management *




*This includes the Master Programs in Management, International Management and Business


  • Select one of the following browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari
  • Create account or use existing one;
  • After entering platform, insert class ID and class enrolment Key;
  • Class submission screen
  • Select upload thesis
  • Insert details, such as name, surname and thesis title. It is mandatory to write your student number before the tittle. Ex:152118246_thesis title
  • Upload
  • Return to assignment list
  • Click view or download
  • Save the receipt
  • When delivering your thesis in the submission platform, use appropriate field to insert the receipt.



As required by Portuguese law, your dissertation will be archived in the UCP Institutional Repository.

 You will submit a form along with your dissertation, indicating the type of access that should be applied to your work – unrestricted access, restricted access for a determined amount of time (end date to be indicated by you), or restricted access for an undetermined amount of time.

Portuguese law also requires your dissertation defence to be public. As a result, you should ensure that confidential data is not included in your presentation.

 Additionally, please note that the university is unable to sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements.

Dissertation Format

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Regarding the outline of the dissertation, the following rules must be observed:

  • The cover page must follow this template. You are allowed to change the font type, size and colour, but must not include any additional images, logos or backgrounds.
  • The font should be Times New Roman 12-point.
  • The Abstract page must contain an English and Portuguese version, with the title, the author, keywords and a summary of the objectives, findings/arguments and conclusions of the dissertation.
  • Spacing should be: for the main text 1.5 with margins of 25mm, and for the abstract 1.5 with margins of 25mm.
  • Quotations of less than a sentence should be integrated into the text. Lengthier quotations should be indented and single-spaced.

An MSc dissertation should have 8,000 to 13,000 words.

The following elements of the Dissertation are not included in the word count:

  • Cover page
  • Abstract
  • Executive summary
  • Acknowledgements
  • Contents list
  • List of figures
  • Reference list/Bibliography
  • List of abbreviations
  • Glossary
  • Appendices

Footnotes, tables, graphs and figures, along with their captions, are included in the word count.

You are free to adopt any of the major conventions commonly used for references, such as the MLA system or the Chicago system, so long as you exactly and consistently follow the rules of that system.

The body of the Abstract, which must be in both Portuguese and English, cannot exceed 250 words each and the Appendices cannot exceed 30 pages.

The length of the dissertation will be checked upon delivery, and Católica-Lisbon dissertations that exceed the length guidelines will not be accepted. Please note that Double-Degree students may have different lenght requirements.


Dissertation Submission

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Mandatory Documents

Type of format


PDF/A  (Instructions)

Cover page and Abstracts

PDF/A  (Instructions)

Format and Length Declaration - template here


Turnitin Submission Receipt


Declaration(s) from your advisor(s) - template here


Authorization form to archive your dissertation UCP Institutional Repository - template here


Declaration of Originaliy - template here  

Updated CV


Technical submission requirements: 

  • You must ensure that you submit the listed documents in the required format, correctly filled in and signed.  
  • The dissertation/thesis format must follow the layout, the length and the references posting as outlined in the paragraphs under “Dissertation Format” .
  • All critical and identifying marks and information must be legible. 
  • The scanned document orientation should match the original.  

To deliver your Dissertation/Thesis and the corresponding documents it is indispensable that you use the submission platform.

Please make sure you read all the requirements, as there are several prerequisites you must comply with namely, the layout, the length and the references posting, etc.

We encourage you to submit your work as soon as all the documentation is ready.

All the documents must be submitted in the required format, correctly filled in and signed


The submission platform is open until 09h00 of the deadline day.

Your Dissertation/Thesis and all other documents will be verified after the delivery in the submission platform.

Students are expected to complete their dissertation in approximately four months (1st submission deadline), with the possibility of extending to the 2nd submission deadline, which is approximately three months.

After the 2nd submission deadline students are required to obtain permission from their advisor to continue working on the same topic/dissertation.

Students have up to two years, counting from the beginning of the dissertation semester, to complete and submit their dissertation.

After these two years have ended, students must find a new topic and advisor.

Late penalty fees per missed deadline(s)

Until the thesis delivery, a financial penalty fee is applicable for every deadline exceeded, up to a maximum of 4 late penalty fees, per seminar enrolment.

Every student is charged the annual enrolment fee for each academic year in CLSBE.

  • Example 1: Start Dissertation Semester in September 2021 - Deliver by the 2nd Submission Deadline (April 2022) = 1 payment of €175 (Value AY 2020/2021);
  • Example 2: Start Dissertation Semester in September 2021 - Deliver by the 3rd deadline (June 2022) = 2 payments of €175 (Value AY 2020/2021);
  • Example 3: Start Dissertation Semester in September 2021 - Deliver by the 4th deadline (September 2022) = 3 payments of €175 (Value AY 2020/2021);
  • Example 4: Start Dissertation Semester in September 2021 - Deliver by the 5th deadline (January 2023) = 2021/2022 Annual Registration Fee + 4 payments of €175 (Value AY 2020/2021);

Enrolment changes in Dissertation Seminars or Independent Process

  • The late penalty fees from exceeded deadlines are due, even if the students change their enrolment to a new Dissertation seminar or an independent process.
  • This change will reset the deadlines and consequentially the calculation of late penalty fees.


  • A student that is returning to a program after the enrolment was canceled must submit a formal request to the Academic Director to re-enroll. Upon approval, a re-enrolment fee of € 300 will be applicable.

Dissertation Defence

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For a student to defend their dissertation, the student must have completed their study plan (course work, Career Lab, RMW, LERNE, and if applicable Internship and/or exchange, etc) within the deadline, settle the treasury situation, and their Dissertation to be confirmed their authentic work (Turnitin).

Study Plan Requirements

  • Number of ECTS (total, major, specialization, etc.)
  • 4 LERNE sessions
  • Career Accelerator Lab
  • Research Methodologies Workshop
  • Third Language Requirement (if applicable)
  • Outgoing Platform (submit courses with the correct description)
  • Internship Requirement or International Requirement (if applicable – more information here). Please be aware that it must be submitted for validation by the 28th day of the month, to be validated by the 28th of the following month.

Master students are required to complete a minimum mandatory ECTS taking into consideration the study plan coursework requirements. For each of them, certain specificities apply. Click here to access the Master programs study plans.

You can schedule a meeting with Master Student Affairs here to ensure that your study plan is complete. 

Treasury situation

Please be aware that your treasury situation needs to be settled within the established deadlines.

If your CATÓLICA-LISBON coursework (including all passed and failed courses, modules, and workshops) exceed the abovementioned limit, the excess will incur additional costs.

Courses for which you have enrolled several times or that you stopped attending without a formal cancelation reviewed and processed by the Master Student Affairs may not appear in the student platform e-SCA but will be counted for ECTS payment.

Extra costs need to be settled prior to your dissertation defense and will be determined according to the following formula:

Extra cost = (number of ECTS in excess) x (Fee per ECTS*)

Example: If a student uses 69 ECTS in course work at CATÓLICA-LISBON until the dissertation defense (considering passed and failed courses), the student will have a final tuition settlement of 2 ECTS x 105€ (value AY 2020/2021) = 210€

**fee per ECTs is indicated in the Tuition Fees List, available online

Additionally, there is a late penalty of €175 (AY 2020/2021) for every deadline that is exceeded until a maximum of 4 deadlines. You will also be required to pay the annual enrolment fee every time you enter a new academic year.

You will defend your dissertation in Católica-Lisbon, in front of a jury, who will award a final grade of 0 to 20.

The jury will normally have three (but may have up to five) members, and will usually include your dissertation advisor.

Dissertation defences are public, as required by Portuguese law.

The Roles of the Jury Members

Discussant – of the three jury members, the discussant will most actively prepare and present questions and suggestions regarding the content, methodology, and findings of the dissertation.

President – the primary role of the President is to manage the proceedings but they will also prepare a couple of comments and questions.

Advisor – The advisor will have guided you through the dissertation development, and therefore it is expected that they will have fewer comments and questions. Nonetheless, they may contribute one or two questions, and/or comments.

The Structure of the Defence

Each defense session usually takes 40 minutes to 45 minutes, and students are required to be physically present at Católica-Lisbon. The defense periods for the Academic Year are on our website, link HERE, so please plan accordingly.

During the candidate's presentation, lasting 15 to 20 minutes (maximum), the student overviews the key points of the dissertation, briefly introducing the research question(s) and literature, and outlining the methodology, analysis, findings, and conclusions.

The Jury members will pose questions to the students, adding comments. Starting at length with the discussant, followed by the jury president, and the advisor. It is up to the president and jury members whether, the questions are read at once, written down, and responded to, or if the student has the chance to respond to each question.

There are no rules regarding whether the student sits or stands, but the latter is more common unless the student is writing down questions.

The jury will ask you, as well as any guests, to temporarily leave the room so that they can deliberate and agree on a grade.

The jury may tell you the grade immediately after your defense, or they might ask you to wait until the other defenses from the same morning/afternoon have ended before communicating the grades to all of the candidates.

The dissertation will be evaluated on several criteria:

  • Quality of literature review and appropriate references (e.g., including academic and current ones)
  • Quality of methods and analysis
  • Novelty and appropriateness of research question
  • Discussion, including overview, of the limitations and possible future research
  • Quality of the document in terms of organisation, clear writing, and correct English

Regarding case studies, there is less emphasis on the methods and data collection, and more on the quality of the pedagogical case that is developed in terms of relevance, usability, and interesting insights. In case study dissertations a literature review is also generally required, as well a clear research question(s) that is addressed.

Dissertation Defence scheduling is a long process and we will send you information about your defence as soon as possible, and at least one week in advance. 

You will receive this confirmation by email, and it will include the following information:

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Composition of the jury

Dissertation defences are scheduled according to the availability of jury members and, as a result, we are unable to negotiate dates with students.

You may find information about the upcoming defence periods on the page Dissertation Dates and Deadlines.

Conclusion of the MSc Program

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The dissertation will be weighted with the curricular portion of your program.


You completed 56 ECTS in courses, with a weighted average of 16.5, and your dissertation was awarded a 17.

You can do the following calculation:

NOTE: For this example, we have based ourselves on the International MSc in Management, where the dissertation is worth 30 ECTS and the program has 90 ECTS.

Please keep in mind this is just an example and that there are differences across programs and intakes.

Once you have successfully defended your dissertation, and your MSc Program is complete,you can request your Certificate of Conclusion and/or Diploma to the university’s Academic Services through E-SCA (see tutorial).

The Academic Services issues the certificate in up to ten business days, whilst the Diploma (if requested) will be delivered in the graduation ceremony next year.

Make sure that your personal information in ESCA is correct (full name, personal ID number, parents’ name, date of birth, etc). If something needs changing, please contact the central Administrative Services (

How to request and receive these documents:

Certificate of Degree’s Conclusion

  • Language: Portuguese or English
  • Issued: upon request, may take up to two weeks after payment.
  • Delivered: more information below
  • Cost: €187,50 for the first certificate, and €63 for subsequent certificates.

If, when ordering the first certificate, you ask for two identical copies (eg. 2 certificates in English with your final average), the second certificate has a reduced cost of €31.50.

  • Content options:
  1. Certificate of Conclusion (only states that you have finished the MSc Program)
  2. Certificate of Conclusion with your final average
  3. Certificate of Conclusion with your final average and your grades per course
  •  Request Status: follow the status of your request in ESCA. It will change to “Concluded” once the certificate is ready.

Delivery of the Certificate

  • In Person (default option)

The Certificate can be picked up in person at the UCP Secretaria Escolar (Ground Floor | Library Building).

  • By Post

After the payment is made, you can ask the Academic Services to send you the document via post. Please email them at with your request and keep in mind that there is a payment associated with this service.

  • By Email

In addition to the original hard copy, you can ask the Academic Services to email you a scanned version before picking it up from the Secretaria Escolar or having it posted to you. Please email them at with your request.


  • Language: Portuguese
  • Issued: once a year and must be requested until 31st December 2020 to receive it at the Diploma Ceremony next year (due to Covid-19 we are unable to confirm if the ceremony will be held).

Diplomas requested from 1st January to 30th April 2021 will be available only after 1st October 2021.

  • Delivered: during the Diploma Ceremony in Spring 2021, if requested by 31st December 2020 (see above).
  • Cost: If you request and pay for a certificate of conclusion first, the diploma will be free of charge, as long as you request it by 30th April 2021.

If you only want the diploma, or if you request it after 30th April 2021, the diploma is €90.


After the request has been completed, you must proceed with payment. Usually the amount and payment references become available in E-SCA one working day after your request.

  • Payment with a Portuguese bank account

You can use the ATM reference (Multibanco) to make your payment: at an ATM, choose "Pagamentos e Outros Serviços”, “Pagamento de Serviços/Compras" options and enter the entity code, reference and amount. Alternatively, you can also make the payment in person, at the Treasury Office.

  • Payment from Abroad

Please arrange a transfer to:

  • Account name: Universidade Católica Portuguesa
  • Bank: Banco Comercial Português/Millennium BCP, Lisbon
  • IBAN: PT50.0033.0000.50026586583.05

Please remember to account for bank charges and forward a copy of the transfer document to the Treasury Office ( or for easier accounting allocation.