Topics for bachelor and master theses

All bachelor and master theses supervised by our research group need to relate to ongoing research projects
(for general information on our group, visit

For master theses, it is our target to jointly elaborate an article for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, where the student serves as the first author. Experience in writing English is therefore important.

If you are interested in one of the listed topics, please contact the topic area coordinators (Stefan Giljum, and Martin Bruckner, and we will internally forward your request to the respective colleague.


Extraction, trade and consumption of raw materials and related impacts
(Area coordinator: Stefan Giljum)

(depending on the topic)

Stefan Giljum, Stephan Lutter, Mirko Lieber, Hanspeter Wieland, Victor Maus, Sebastian Luckeneder


Literature research, data analysis, environmental accounting, geospatial assessments

Minimum requirements

Interest in working with quantitative approaches, basic knowledge of the respective methods to be applied

Topic Short description
Environmental impacts of internationally traded products Review the literature on environmental impacts associated with / embodied in internationally traded products, with a focus on metal ores and metal products. Analyse the assumptions of the various existing approaches to link data on environmental impacts with data on supply chains. Derive recommendations for future sustainability assessments of supply chains with regard to e.g. sector/product detail or regional detail in the assessment models.
Water input in the mining industry Country case studies on water use in mining and its economic/political/ecological/social circumstances and implications
Use of primary vs. secondary raw materials Investigate how patterns of selected primary vs. secondary (i.e. recycled) raw material use changed over time; what data are available for secondary/recycled materials; how has the use of secondary materials changed in relation to primary materials; what’s the total global material consumption if including primary + secondary materials; in which areas do secondary/recycled material play an essential role; how large are recycling potentials for various materials; what are main uses of these materials and what future projections are made in the literature; which countries are role models of recycling and a circular economy and why?
Global trade and markets of metal scrap Investigate global trends in the trade of metal scrap (i.e. metals left over from product manufacturing and consumption, such as parts of vehicles or building supplies) and how scrap markets have developed in recent years.
Efficiency of different raw materials in comparison Analyse, for example, possible substitutions of metals/minerals with others based on available reserves and future technologies (e.g. materials for solid-state batteries vs. lithium-based batteries)
Processing of metallic minerals Provide an overview of efficiencies (in material and/or energetic terms) of contemporary processing technologies (e.g. best vs. worst practices) regarding metallic minerals and discuss this in the context of global trade. Focus required with regard to one raw material (bauxite, copper…) and/or region (South America, USA, Europe, China…) as well as specific products/supply chains.
Industrial use of metallic mineral products For selected economic sectors (such as car manufacturing, construction, electronics, etc.), provide an overview of the typical metal demand/use and discuss theoretical sustainability strategies for this sector.
Transport costs and biophysical trade patterns Theoretical or empirical work on transport costs as a driver of global (biophysical) trade flows.
Energy use in freight transport activities Investigate the structure of freight transport activities (air transport or maritime transport or rail transport) by countries worldwide to estimate the energy use of domestic and foreign economic agents.

Food, land use (change), trade and consumption
(Area coordinator: Martin Bruckner)

(depending on the topic)

Martin Bruckner, Victor Maus, Nikolas Kuschnig


Input-output analysis, GIS, (spatial) econometrics

Minimum requirements

Basic R knowledge, willingness to learn coding, basic knowledge of the methods to be applied

Due to a lack of capacities, there are currently no supervisions accepted in this topic area.