Copyright on student work

This page provides guidelines on copyright to student work as well as how NTNU and its staff can use such work. The guidance is based on the Norwegian Copyright Act of 15.06.2018 (Lov om opphavsrett til åndsverk) and practice at NTNU.

Norsk versjon - Opphavsrett til studentoppgaver

Topic page about master’s theses | Topic page about bachelor’s theses

Topic page about writing theses | Pages tagged with copyright

Students hold the copyright on the theses that they write. The copyright holder can decide whether the work should be made available to the public, for example by publication through NTNU Open. Holding the copyright also means that the student decides whether the work can be copied. However, NTNU can take copies needed for assessment and archival of the work. If several students write a piece of work together, and it is not possible to separate each individual’s contribution as an independent work, they are considered joint copyright owners.If the student has consented to making the work publicly available, for example through NTNU Open, the entire work or parts of it can be copied for private use without further consent from the student.


Participation in the form of supervision or facilitating work arrangements is not enough to qualify for co-author status. The supervisor of a student’s thesis cannot use the supervisor relationship as a reason to claim copyright on the thesis. This also applies if the supervisor came up with the concept for what the student should write about. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis must be an independent work. Participation by the supervisor in a way that would entitle the supervisor to copyright would violate this principle. A student’s thesis that will be submitted for assessment must be identifiable as the student’s own work, unless the thesis is submitted jointly by several students.


Students’ work is assumed to be independent work. For master’s theses, this is explicitly stated in the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges. However, there may still be questions about co-authorship in connection with publication. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors has drawn up the Vancouver recommendations on best practice for publication. These are recognized as ground rules or guidelines, and they are used to provide guidance about co-authorship in other subject areas as well. To be regarded as a co-author, you must have made a substantial contribution to:

a) conception or design of the work, or acquisition, analysis or interpretation of the data,

b) drafting the manuscript itself or critical revision of the content and

c) approval of the final manuscript version.

All three of these criteria must be met. Co-authors must each have made a contribution substantial enough to give them public responsibility for appropriate parts of the content. A link to an updated version of the Vancouver recommendations is available at the website of the Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees.

Use by NTNU

NTNU may use master’s and bachelor theses for teaching and research purposes unless they are exempt from public access for a specified period. Theses cannot be used for commercial purposes. If a student’s thesis is to be published, i.e. made available to the public, the student’s consent is required. The same applies if a member of the teaching staff wants to publish a former student’s thesis in their teaching activities, for example using the online learning platform. The student’s consent is also needed if teaching staff or others want to publish parts of the student’s thesis in an article.

NTNU provides for and encourages students to publish master’s and bachelor theses in NTNU’s institutional repository on the Internet (NTNU Open).  Publication in NTNU’s repository requires consent from the student. A publication agreement has been drawn up that the student can sign when the thesis is submitted.

An embargo (delayed publication) can be arranged in exceptional cases and at an early stage (before submission), e.g. through a collaboration agreement with a company or external organization, or through other agreements with the student in which the department is involved. The thesis with accompanying metadata will then be published as soon as the embargo period ends.


You are allowed to quote from student work published through NTNU Open, on other sites or in other contexts. Citation must comply with good practice and must be within the scope appropriate for the purpose. This means that the student’s name, the title of the work, the year and the institution’s name must be stated. Citation will typically be used to support or shed light on a statement or argument.


If you have further questions, please contact:

Anne Marie Snekvik

NTNU University Library