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BA Thesis Philosophy


Admission requirements

In order to start writing their BA thesis students must have successfully completed at least 120 ECTS credits of their BA programme in Philosophy, including at least one third-year seminar in the chosen specialisation (i.e. Global and Comparative Perspectives).

Students can start writing their thesis two times each academic year, in February and in September.


Students complete their BA programme Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives with the final BA thesis. In the BA thesis the student proves to be able to independently give a critical description of the state of the art regarding to a philosophical problem in the field of the chosen specialisation.

For the BA thesis 10 ECTS credits (280 hours) are available, including attending the Thesis Seminar Philosophy. The thesis has no more than 8,.500 words, including notes, bibliography, and appendices. The BA thesis must be supervised by a staff member of the Leiden Institute of Philosophy.

Procedure for assignment of the supervisor

The subject of the thesis must belong to the specialisation Global and Comparative Perspectives. The choice of subject and supervisor follows a fixed procedure. This procedure should smoothen the whole process of finding a supervisor and a suitable topic so that students can start their thesis in time. There are only two times each academic year that BA students in Philosophy can start their thesis, in February and in September. At the end of May (for starting the thesis in September), or at the end of November (for starting the thesis in February) students choose three possible combinations of supervisor and topic out of a list and submit their preferences. In June or December all students who have submitted their preferences will be assigned a supervisor. Students are encouraged to contact their appointed supervisor as soon as possible for an initial appointment in which you make further arrangements regarding the supervision.

Agreement form

The agreements relating to the planning and supervision of the writing of the BA thesis are set out in writing by the student and the supervisor in the Agreements relating to the BA thesis form. The agreements include details on the choice of subject of the thesis, on the frequency of sessions with the thesis supervisor and the manner of supervision, and on the phasing of the research leading up to the thesis.

At least four reporting/feedback instances should be included in the phasing, which should relate to the following:

  1. The research question and the selection of literature;
  2. The structure of the research;
  3. The pre-final version;
  4. The final version.

The schedule chosen should be realistic, taking into account the time which is available for writing the thesis (280 hrs) and the student’s other teaching obligations. The student will provide the Coordinator of Studies with a copy of the relevant form.

The supervisor ensures that the agreed periods within which the student is required to provide a report are observed. In the event of a failure to meet any of the deadlines, if such failure is expected to result in a substantial delay, the schedule will be modified and the student will keep the Coordinator of Studies informed of this modification accordingly. The supervisor will respond as quickly as possible to the reports submitted by the student, but in any event within 5 working days in the case of reports 1 and 2, and in the case of reports 3 and 4 within 10 working days after receipt of the report.

Thesis Seminar

During the semester in which the BA thesis is being written (normally semester 2) the students also attends the mandatory Thesis Seminar Philosophy. The Thesis Seminar is an integral part of the thesis component of the programme, and is meant to support the writing process. The Thesis Seminar Philosophy is offered in the second semester only. Students who for any reason write their thesis in the first semester must attend the Faculty Thesis Seminar.

Course objectives

Attainment levels

The BA thesis should clearly show that the student meets the attainment levels that have been set for this programme in terms of knowledge and skills. More specifically, the BA thesis and the working method for the thesis should demonstrate that the student in the BA programme in Philosophy is able to:

  • formulate, execute, and evaluate a research plan under supervision;

  • independently collect philosophical literature relating to a theme, using both traditional and modern methods, and evaluate this literature in terms of relevance and quality;

  • independently study and analyse philosophical texts in terms of arguments and conclusions, evaluate them in terms of their argumentative qualities, understand their interconnections and situate them in a broader historical, societal or academic context;

  • independently identify and analyse problems in the area of the specialisation, and critically evaluate proposed solutions;

  • independently formulate a philosophical, clearly delineated research question in the area of the specialisation, situate this question in a philosophical context, and develop an argument to answer the question;

  • formulate a concise and constructive critique of philosophical standpoints and substantiate this critique with arguments;

  • determine a standpoint on philosophical questions and substantiate this with arguments;

  • clearly and accessibly explain his or her findings in written form, substantiated with arguments.

In addition, the thesis must show that the student has knowledge and understanding in the area of philosophy, in particular as regards:

  • the historical development of Western philosophy, also in relation to the development of the various branches of learning;

  • the societal and cultural significance of Western philosophy, also from a global and comparative perspective;

  • the main traditional elements of Western philosophy, their problems, their methods and their key concepts;

  • for the specialisation Global and Comparative Perspectives: the philosophical traditions of India, China, Africa and the Middle East, and also recent developments in the area of comparative philosophy.


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Mode of instruction

  • (Thesis) Seminar

  • Individual supervision

Assessment method

The course objectives will be assessed by the following components:

  • BA Thesis: 100% of the final grade

  • Paricipation in Thesis Seminar Philosophy: 0% of the finmal grade

The thesis will be assessed by the supervisor and a second reader who has been appointed by the Board of Examiners.

Assessment criteria

In order to assess whether the required final attainment levels have been achieved, the BA thesis will be assessed on the basis of a number of assessment criteria that have been established in the Protocol Graduation Phase.

A sufficient assessment of each of the following knock out crireria is required:

  • philosophical relevance;

  • convincing argumentation;

  • the abilty to independently determine a standpoint on a philosophical question

A BA thesis that, according to the supervisor and/or the second reader, does not meet the above mentioned criteria, will be assessed as insufficient. In case the thesis has been assessed as insufficient the student will be enabled to resit the thesis in view of the assessment form and the instructions of the supervisor.

Reading list

Not applicable.


Students don't have to enroll for the BA Thesis through uSis. They are requested, however, to apply in time for the assignment of thesis supervisors.

Enrolment through uSis for the Thesis Seminar is mandatory. Please see:



Not applicable.