TFM: What is it and how should it be done?


A Master's Thesis (TFM) is a project or study carried out by a student, under the supervision of a tutor, in which the knowledge acquired during the Master's course is demonstrated and applied. In the preparation of a TFM, it is important to acquire advanced knowledge and demonstrate it in a scientific research environment.

Surely, if you are studying a master's degree, you must already know what a TFM is, but do you really know how to do it? Here you will find some guidelines.

How to do a TFM?

When planning a TFM, it is important to evaluate and select the appropriate scientific theory and choose the most suitable methodology to achieve the objectives we set ourselves.

But how should a TFM be carried out? To do a TFM, first of all, you need to have a clear set of objectives and a clear methodology. From there, you can work on the following elements to achieve a successful TFM:

  • In the initial steps, try to reflect on a research problem that will be your challenge to solve. Assess its usefulness and remain focused on your objectives.
  • Choose a simple scientific method to solve the problem and make a research design.
  • Carry out the research on the basis of a pre-established guide. Check and cite your sources correctly according to their origin (primary, secondary, etc.).
  • Choose material well and try to ensure that it comes from primary or own sources.
  • Write as concisely as possible. Clarity and transparency are very important in a TFM. It is also important to avoid making value judgements and always try to demonstrate before giving your opinion. Remember that this is a TFM, not a style exercise.
  • When drawing conclusions, you should bear in mind the initial objectives of your TFM and focus on interpreting the results. At this point, you should refrain from giving your opinion.

How to defend a TFM?

If before we have explained how to do a TFM in the theoretical part, in this section we detail what the more practical part consists of. The defence of the TFM is undoubtedly one of the key moments in the whole process of carrying out the work. Therefore, how to defend a TFM is perhaps the most complex part of the whole process. Although the demands and rigour of the examining board may vary depending on who sits on it, there are some aspects that must always be taken into account when defending a TFM:

  • Make a balanced presentation: try to ensure that, when presenting the most relevant points of your TFM, an important part of the presentation is related to the practical examples of the TFM.
  • Try to find a balance and adapt to the exact time: otherwise, you run the risk of making it either too tedious or too superficial.
  • Speak slowly: avoid speeding up your speech and pause during the intervention. You must know how to maintain the same pace throughout your presentation, feeling pleasant and capturing the attention of the tribunal. In addition, remember to vocalise and pronounce clearly, focusing on what you want to emphasise, but always with an appropriate tone and volume.
  • Prepare a script: You can use the same script as your TFM, adding notes on aspects that you cannot forget.
  • Use support materials: Complementing a presentation with a PowerPoint or Prezi can be of great help, but remember to use it always as a complementary thing, and in no case as a substitute for your presentation. If you have the knowledge to create a presentation in applications such as Genialy, perfect. If not, with a well-worked PowerPoint you have a perfect ally to defend a TFM.
  • Work well on your non-verbal language: Voice is only one part of our communication. Controlling and mastering the expressiveness of our whole body is very important, as it helps to transmit and reinforce the ideas we express. The hands, for example, are a support to back the speech. It is also important to maintain visual contact with the members of the tribunal, as this will give you confidence. All these communication elements are important and must be taken into account in order to defend a TFM in an optimal way.
  • List and enumerate the resources that you have used in the preparation of your TFM: websites, publications, previous work, books, etc. This will help your credibility as a researcher.

When you finish your presentation, it is time for the examining board to ask you questions. If you have shown confidence when defending your TFM and you have a perfect command of all its sections, you need not be worried. Normally these are questions that seek to clarify concepts or suggestions for improving the work. Here, concision will be your best ally.

Now that you know what a TFM is and how to defend it, you only need to do the most important thing: start writing it!

TFM examples 

Below you can find some examples of recent TFM carried out by Elisava Master and Postgraduate students. Click on the links to know the TFM in the areas of Communication, Graphic Design, Space Design, Product Design, Strategy and Management, and Interaction and Technology.

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