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Literature thesis

A guide for the literature thesis can be found here

The literature thesis is a compulsory component of the study programme. It focusses on a disease, mechanisms, or methodology, and serves to demonstrate that you are able to gain in-depth, expert understanding of a biomedical topic. The subject must be broad enough to justify writing a thesis of 6 ECs on it, but not so broad that the existing knowledge cannot be summarized and critically evaluated in the time available. The literature thesis should be more than just a summary of literature. It is important that you formulate, deal with and then solve a problem/scientific question in your thesis. Preferably you take a defined angle/position about a controversy in the current literature which you defend (e.g. nanomedicine: hope or hype?).


The purpose of the literature thesis is to obtain a deep insight into a specific topic relating to a biomedical problem through guided self study. After this course you are able to:

  1. perform an in-depth literature research on a specific subject, chosen by yourselves, relating to a biomedical problem in a defined, limited time;
  2. present the results of your literature research in a structured, concise fashion in the form of an assay using various articles from scientific journals;
  3. reflect on the state-of-knowledge of a given subject, place this subject into context, defend a putative controversy and propose future lines of research;
  4. support your text with figures to visualize key principles for the specific subject;
  5. work with various literature systems.

Structureofthe thesis

Each thesis should count between 5000 and 6000 words and must include the following:

  1. title page (title, name of the author, place and date);
  2. a brief summary (abstract);
  3. an introduction in which a problem or controversy is formu- lated;
  4. a section in which the burden of proof, the articles used, is/are examined. Proof should preferably be presented in figures, graphs and tables, as well as be described in the text. The figures should have a legend that is self-explanatory.
  5. a discussion with critical comments with respect to the articles that are used and conclusions concerning the problem as formulated;
  6. references in an appropriate format.

Before commencing the writing of your literature thesis, you require approval from the board of examiners. Detailed instructions and forms required for the literature thesis can be found here.

Assessment literature thesis

Your literature thesis will be assessed and graded by your supervisor. The following criteria apply:

  1. Overall quality of the thesis
  2. Quality of the abstract
  3. Quality of the introduction
  4. Justification of the scientific question
  5. In depth elaboration of scientific question
  6. Scientific quality of the discussion
  7. Appropriateness of selected literature
  8. Quality of figures, tables and layout
  9. Correct citations / references
  10. Overall writing skill; grammar use in report
  11. The literature thesis assessment form should be used as a guideline for supervision and assessment.

NOTE: As stated in the preface the rules and regulations are best formulated in the Onderwijs- en Examenregeling at Examinations and regulations. Therefore, no rights can be derived from the contents of this prospectus!

Literature thesis procedures

Approval for your literature thesis

You should use the appropriate form for the literature thesis plan which you can find here. Once you have filled out the form you can email it to your Specialisation Coordinator who will send it to the Board of Examiners. Make sure that the plan for the literature thesis can be approved by the Board of Examiners before you start. The Board of Examiners will deal with the literature thesis application in their meeting. You can find an overview with dates of the Board of Examiners meetings here. Submit the literature thesis plan no later than 2 weeks before the relevant Board of Examiners meeting.

Please see below for the procedure of the registration of the results. Do also check the literature thesis manual which you can find here.

Literature thesis assessment

The literature thesis must be performed under the supervision of a researcher with a PhD (i.e. a doctorate, abbreviation dr.) who has sufficient expertise in the field of study to guide the preparation of the thesis and evaluate the content. When the literature thesis is finished, the supervisor should complete the assessment form which you can find here. Preferably the student meets the supervisor (assessor) to receive feedback on the grading. The completed assessment form has to be signed by the student and the supervisor.

Registration of literature thesis results

The supervisor (assessor) of the literature thesis can send the completed/signed form the Stip (email to StudentenVoortgangsAdministratie@radboudumc.nl).

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