Participation in the Bachelor's Project is only permitted if the propaedeutic phase has been passed and at least 40 EC of the second year have been obtained, including the course Research Methods in Political Science. The successful completion of the Academic Skills course: Research Design is also an entry requirement for the Bachelor Project.
Bachelor Project Information Meetings The Hague
Semester I: The information on the Bachelor Projects for semester I, will be shared with you digitally in May.
Semester II: The information on the Bachelor Projects of semester II, will be shared with you digitally in November.
Enrollment Bachelor Project
Semester I: The information on the Bachelor Projects for semester I will be shared with you digitally in May.
Semester II: The information on the Bachelor Projects of semester II will be shared with you digitally in November.
Although we do our utmost to consider the preferences of all students, it can happen that you will not be placed in your preferred Project.
The thesis for the Bachelor Project IRO will be written in English.
Goal 1: Learning to apply concepts, theories and methods in a research project that fits within a framework that has been formulated by the teacher in advance;
Goal 2: Conducting, and reporting on, a limited empirical or literature study.
Content: The bachelor project is a course that offers substantive instruction, followed by a research part within which students carry out an individual study. Various projects are offered that are structured around different themes. Students first follow substantive instruction for a number of weeks in which they deepen their knowledge of a specific subject within a subfield of political science. After that, students learn to formulate a research question, to design research to answer that question, to conduct their own research, and to report correctly and clearly on that research.
The final report - the Bachelor's thesis - completes the Bachelor's degree in Political Science. The thesis is an individual final paper based on at least partly the student’s own, original research.
Mode of Instruction
Workgroup meetings, walk-in meetings, library instruction, and above all self-study.
On Brightspace you will find more information on the digital module 'Library instruction'.
Halperin, S. & Heath, O. (2017) 'Political research: Methods and practical skills' - Oxford University Press, is assumed to be known. The core literature can be found on the Brightspace page of the Bachelor's Project. Further information about the bachelor project and the subprojects will also be available there.
Students either pass or fail the entire BAP (16 weeks) worth 20 ECTS. In addition, students need to pass both parts of the BAP in order to receive the ECTS.
The assignments made in the first, substantive part of the BAP (week 1-6) will jointly generate a first partial grade. This grade counts for 40% of the final BAP grade. It is rounded to one decimal and passed with a 5,5 or higher.
The full thesis written in the second, thesis-specific part of the BAP (week 7-16) will generate a second partial grade. This counts for 60% of the final BAP grade. It is rounded to whole and half numbers and passed with a 6 or higher.
The thesis. It should be between 7,000-8,000 words. Note that this is the actual required length of the thesis and not 7,000-8,000 plus/minus 10%. Regarding the word count: Everything from introduction to conclusion counts (as picked up by the count in MS Word). The following elements do not count: front page, abstract, table of contents and list of references. Concerning the abstract and table of contents: these are optional.
BAP semester 1: Friday 24 December 2021, 17:00h.
BAP semester 2: Monday 30 May 2022, 17:00h.
Students who get an insufficient grade for their bachelor thesis – and so fail the entire BAP – have the right to improve their thesis and submit it for a second time. They do so on the basis of the feedback given by the supervisor during a feedback meeting. Note, however, that students are not entitled to any further supervision. The submission deadlines for the second chance are:
BAP semester 1: Friday 11 February 2022, 17:00h.
BAP semester 2: Tuesday 12 July 2022, 17:00h.
There are two important caveats to this:
Students do not have the right to submit their thesis for a second time if their first attempt resulted in a sufficient grade.
Students do not have the right to submit their thesis as part of the second chance if they did not submit a completed version of their thesis during the first chance (See Rules and Regulations of Board of Examiners, art. 4.8.2).
Leiden thesis repository
Bachelor Project themes:
01: Climate Politics - (R. Ploof)
Anthropogenic climate change is rapidly altering not just the physical planet, but also the social, political, and economic systems that structure our world and day-to-day lives. Focusing on the political, this course examines the diverse stresses and strains climate change has had – and will continue to have – on politics.
The class investigates questions such as: How does the environment shape the ways we conceptualize and practice politics? To what extent should the climate crisis be thought of as a resource management challenge and how might various governance models respond to this challenge differently? In what ways have political economic factors shaped the climate crisis and how do these vary across the Global North and South? How does environmental politics intersect with racialized and gendered inequalities? What are the political implications of newly emergent phenomena like ecological grief, guilt, and anxiety? What paths forward might either environmental justice frameworks or climate activism offer?
The seminar portion of the bachelor project begins with an overview of standard paradigms of thought used in the field of environmental politics (e.g., ecological modernization; political ecology; commons governance). We’ll then explore various challenges to these approaches (e.g., environmental authoritarianism; Marxist political ecology), taking up questions of post-colonialism and gender in the process. The course will then turn to the politics of environmental affect, environmental justice, and climate action. Cases included in the course will reflect diverse global regions. This BAP is amenable to a variety of methodological approaches, but thesis writers should be prepared to develop a project firmly grounded in qualitative methods.
In advance of the first seminar, please read:
1) Mitchell, Carbon Democracy (Verso: 2011), Introduction and Ch. 1, pp. 1-42
2) Swyngedouw, “Whose Environment? The End of Nature, Climate Change, and the Process of Post-Politicization,” Ambiente & Sociedade, XIV: 2 (2011), pp. 69-87.
02: Global Collective Action: its Problems and Solutions (R. Hagen)
Many of the problems we face today have an international component. Whether it is Covid-19, global warming or forced migration the causes of these issues often lies outside the realms one can control directly. This Bachelor Project applies insights from political economy and addresses the difficulties countries, organizations and individuals have in achieving successful collective action to come to solutions to these problems. By using and comparing theories from public goods and commons literature, students will use an empirical example in their thesis that explores such a problem and delves into how collective action was shaped there, how (un)successful it is and what the difficulties in that specific instance were.
(Global) public goods and commons are multidisciplinary subjects combining fields such as political economy, psychology, law and philosophy and uses them to explore the workings of international action and decision making. Public good scholars focus on top-down solutions while advocates of a commons approach argue for bottom-up decision-making.
Case selection and methods:
Students are free in choosing a specific collective action problem guided by their own interest and use public good and/or commons theory to help shape their theoretical framework. In their empirical study they focus on the role of either involved IO’s, NGO’s, countries or individuals and/or their interaction. Quantitative and qualitative (content-, discourse analysis) methods may be used.
This Project has been removed from the programme
IRO students can also opt for Bachelor Project #2 of International Politics
04: Justice in a Globalised World (M. Verschoor)
The idea of justice occupies a central place both in our daily lives and in political philosophy. We apply it to actions of individuals and groups as well as to laws and public policies. When confronted with unjust actions, laws or policies, we take this to be a strong reason to reject them. Generally speaking, a situation can be called “just” if everyone involved in it has received “their due”. This means that the study of justice is essentially concerned with the following normative question: What do we owe to each other?
For a long time, political philosophers considered it to be their “core business” to develop plausible principles of justice. As such, they focused primarily on the question “What is owed?” and ignored the (equally important) question “Who belong to the group of individuals who owe justice to each other?”. In fact, they simply took it for granted that the notion of justice – stipulating what is owed – applies to the domestic sphere only. If justice requires that individuals be treated as equals in some respect (for instance, by according them equal welfare, opportunities, resources, or capabilities), then surely, many assumed uncritically, the scope of this requirement is limited to the domestic context. According to this statist view, justice is something that co-nationals, i.e. citizens belonging to the same state, owe to each other. It is, however, not something that co-nationals owe to foreigners.
Recently, however, political philosophers have started to wonder whether the notion of justice could – or, to put it more strongly, should – also be invoked at the international, and perhaps even global, level. They raise this question because they have come to realise that the assumption of the statist view – the idea of a world divided into independent states – is a fantasy. Even if there ever existed a world of independent states, then, or so they claim, it certainly no longer exists nowadays. Instead, we live in an age of globalisation; an age in which states and individuals are becoming increasingly more interdependent. As (former and the late) UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said: “The world truly shares a common fate.” What makes our world one of “overlapping communities of fate” are the shared problems and challenges we face in our globalising age. During the last fifty years we witnessed an enormous increase in transboundary problems, such as climate change, economic crises, immigration flows, epidemics, terrorism, and other violent political conflicts. Indeed, as Kant in his Perpetual Peace already noticed, “the peoples of the earth have thus entered in varying degrees into a universal community, and it has developed to the point where a violation of rights in one part of the world is felt everywhere.”
These observations have led many political philosophers to reject the statist view of justice and instead embrace a cosmopolitan view. Given that human beings affect each other’s lives on an unprecedented scale, it makes no sense to limit the scope of justice to the domestic sphere of a set of independent states. Instead, principles of justice ought to be applied globally. Others, however, think that the effects of globalisation are exaggerated or otherwise morally insignificant and therefore do not change the scope of justice. Consequently, they remain committed to their statist view.
In this bachelor project students explore the relationship between globalisation and the scope of justice. In the first phase of the project, students analyse the main statist and cosmopolitan views as well as various aspects of the academic debate on the scope of justice in a globalised world. In the second phase, students develop a philosophical perspective connected to one of the aspects of the academic debate on justice in a globalised world as discussed in the first phase of the project. All of this means this bachelor project has a distinctively philosophical character. Instead of doing empirical research (by asking questions about what causes globalisation, what explains the relationship between globalisation and the scope of justice, and why states do or do not decide to share their wealth with other states), students have to engage exclusively in normative political philosophy (by asking questions about what ought to be the scope of justice).
This Project has limited access to a maximum of 10 students
05: Political Behaviour: Can we trust Democracy to the Voters? The Origins of Public Preferences and Citizen Competence (J. Robison)
Why do democracies succeed or fail? One important answer is that the qualities of citizens—their values, attitudes, and “customs”—are crucial for the maintenance and success of a democracy. But, what qualities are required of democratic publics? Do democratic publics “pass the test”? And, does it matter if they don’t?
Students in this Bachelor Project explore the nature of public attitudes to understand fundamental questions about democratic politics. In the first phase of the project, students will learn how political scientists have attempted to answer these questions. We will pay attention to two crucial topics:
Information and Preferences: what type of knowledge do democratic publics require?; can people make good decisions even if ignorant of political facts; how worried should we be about “fake news” and misinformation?
Democratic Values and Norms: who adopts democratic values such as support for civil liberties and political tolerance?; when and why do people violate democratic norms and can they be persuaded not to?; and, do we need the public to internalize democratic norms or can we rely on elites as “carriers of the [democratic] creed”?
The first phase of the project will introduce you to core theories and evidence regarding public attitudes and preferences. Students in the second phase of the project will use this information as a bedrock for developing their own explanatory research question focused on public attitudes using quantitative methods (e.g. analysis of existing social surveys). Students in previous versions of this BA Project developed projects on a diverse array of specific questions including the relevance of personal values for issue preferences, and pro-democracy attitudes, in China and Hong Kong; the predictors of partisan animosity in Finland; why some people think economic inequality is a societal problem using cross-national survey evidence; nationalism and voting behavior in Turkey; corruption attitudes and voting behavior in India; anxiety and support for Covid-policies in the United States; and the influence of messages from parties and interest groups on public attitudes in the United States.
06: Inclusiveness, State-building and Peace-building (A. Rrustemi)
In the current global order, many states are confronted with difficulties in fulfilling their central functions vis-à-vis its citizens, leading in the worst cases to violence, hybrid warfare, organized crime, poverty, massive flows of refugees, internally displaced people, child soldiers, grave abuses of women and the destruction of world culture and heritage. In an interconnected world, state and peace weakness and failure have thus been identified as one of the central threats to global peace and stability and their prevention has become a main priority of the international community.The approach adopted by the international community, international organizations, to prevent state and peace failure and decrease security threats include measures as diverse as military (humanitarian) intervention, and state, nation and peace building missions.
Therefore, the course provides an analysis of interventions on state and peace building processes, and ultimately aims to understand how to construct sustainable and inclusive security and peace. The following questions are raised: What are the theoretical lenses that we can study peace, nation and state building processes? How are state and peace building interventions developed and implemented? What is their impact (read effectiveness) in the targeted countries/communities? How can we anticipate spoilers of peace and security building and how can we counter them in a timely and appropriate manner to create a more secure world and sustainable peace?
The course outlines the main theoretical underpinnings, various methodologies and relevant societal challenges. More specifically, it addresses the main theoretical frameworks on post-conflict reconstruction, such as military interventions, early warning mechanisms, peacekeeping, liberal and post liberal peace, peace infrastructures, nation building, state building, religion and reconciliation. The methods employed in the course are mixed, mainly qualitative. Special attention is paid to state-society-industry and local-international relations in the post-conflict reconstruction by assessing different case studies from Africa, Middle East, Asia and Europe.
07: Civil Wars in Theory and Practice (J. Schulhofer-Wohl)
This course explores the dynamics of civil wars. It draws on literature in political science and other fields in the social sciences to understand how civil wars are conducted. We begin at the level of the armed actors. We analyze the structure of government armed forces and rebel groups, their tactical effectiveness, the recruitment of fighters, violence against civilians, military engagements between armed rivals, and the role of resources (including external support), ideology, and ethnic and religious identities in shaping their actions. We study violence from the perspective of the armed organization and the interactions of opposing and allied armed organizations, examining what leads to success in warfighting and the causes and consequences of violence against civilians. We then move to the level of individual, studying who participates in armed organizations, the factors that shape continued participation and sacrifice, and the process by which individuals become accustomed to using violence. For each topic, we will identify common policy-making assumptions and assess their evidentiary basis. Readings cover conflicts around the world, from wars in the aftermath of WWII to contemporary Syria.
In Block III, the course will be taught as a seminar. By the end of Block III, students will have developed skills necessary to answer complex questions about civil wars – both on trans-national issue areas and individual civil wars – and with an eye towards the relevance of those questions for policy. Students will be graded on participation, two written assignments, and one in-class presentation.
In Block IV, under the supervision of the instructor, each student will conduct original research on a question identified during Block III and write a bachelor’s thesis presenting this research. While Block IV will consist mostly of individual research and supervision thereof, we will also meet several times as a group to discuss projects-in-progress.
The syllabus will be distributed at the first meeting of the course.
BEFORE the first meeting, please read:
1: O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. “How to Tell a True War Story,” pp.67-80.
2: Armitage, David. 2017. Civil Wars: A History in Ideas. New York: Knopf. Introduction, “Confronting Civil War,” pp.3-30.
08: Foundations of Climate Justice (J. Belic)
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that human activities are significantly changing the climate system, which, in turn, is fundamentally transforming the world we live in. The images of melting ice caps, hurricanes, fires, droughts, and floods have become a constant feature of the everyday news. These, in turn, affect the quality of life worldwide by way of decreasing food and water supplies, forcing people out of their homes and exacerbating the existing socio-economic inequalities. None of this is limited to the present generations, but it will in all its likelihood significantly affect the quality of life of future generations too. Besides humans, other species and whole ecosystems are greatly affected by climate change as well, and many face the risk of extinction due to insufficient ability to adjust to fast-changing environmental conditions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, these negative effects can be mitigated if humanity takes immediate actions to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the 21st century. But, what does this mean and who should do what? In this bachelor project, we will approach these issues from a normative point of view. That is, we will attempt to decipher what does climate justice demand and who should secure it.
The course is divided into two parts. In the first part, which will take place in Block III, the course will be organized in the form of discussion-based classes. We will examine the notion of climate justice from three perspectives. We will start by defining the climate change-induced harm to humans as well as the non-human part of nature. Since climate change impacts the interests that many deem important, such as interests in life, health and nutrition, what kind of protection people are entitled to? How much weight should be given to the interests of future generations? Moving beyond the anthropocentric considerations, what value as well as a status we should recognize to species, ecosystems and nature in general? In the second part, we will focus on the problem of the distribution of responsibilities concerning climate change. We will evaluate various principles of justice for distributing benefits and burdens of mitigation and adaptation across countries and generations. Should the costs of mitigation and adaptation be borne by states and societies which are the most resourceful, or those that have the greatest level of past and present emissions, or those that have benefitted the most from the emissions? Finally, in the third part, we will shift our attention to the responsibilities of individuals. What if anything, individuals should do regarding climate change? Should we cut our emissions and significantly change our lifestyles? Are individuals morally required to take collective actions in order to make systemic changes? Should the population growth be limited, and if yes, how? We will address questions such as these from various theoretical perspectives and we will also look at their practical implications.
In the second part of the bachelor project, which will take place in Block IV, students will develop their bachelor theses on topics of their choice which fall within the scope of the material covered in the course. As this is a predominantly philosophical course, students will conduct normative research by way of evaluating the validity and soundness of the existing arguments, and developing their own arguments.
The syllabus will be available a week prior to the beginning of the course.
09: Institutions, History and Development (Unknown)
This bachelor project aims to acquaint students with institutionalist explanation in political science. We shall study and discuss various institutionalist traditions and focus especially on historical-institutionalism, a prominent and influential institutionalist approach. We use Acemoglu and Robinson’s Why Nations Fail (2013) as a key publication in the first half of this course. This study is an influential contribution to the discussion about causes of development and underdevelopment. The authors use the comparative method and provide an interesting and challenging historical institutionalist explanation. We do not use a handbook but besides Acemoglu and Robinson we read and discuss various articles that will help to position Acemoglu and Robinson’s Why Nations Fail theoretically and empirically. Besides introducing students to institutionalist explanation, this course aims to enable students in designing, conducting, and reporting their own research. The second half of this course the second half of this course concentrates research and writing the BA thesis. We shall follow Acemoglu and Robinson’s comparative approach, and apply, criticize, elaborate, or test their claims. Within this general frame, students are free to choose a subject, region, area, and period to research. A variety of subjects is possible. Topics that evoke themes like ‘the effects of colonial heritage on political and economic development today’; ‘the durable influence or direct and indirect rule’; ‘the relationship between (economic) development and democracy’; ‘the primacy of politics in matters of development’; ‘democratization and backsliding’, for instance, fall well within the realm of this course.
To deepen students’ knowledge of institutionalist theory. Train capacity to critically work with this theory, especially in the field of development and democratization. To train students in the use of comparative method and in conducting research and writing.
Seminars: close reading, discussion, presentations, ‘mini-lectures,’ individual supervision (especially in the final writing of the BA thesis).
Part I (week 1-6): two writing assignments 30% (1500 words) and 50% (2500 words) and a presentation (20 %).
Part II (week 7-16): Thesis Proposal; BA thesis (between 7,000-8,000 words, exl. references).
Acemoglu, Daron and James A. Robinson. 2013. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of
Power, Prosperity and Poverty. London: Profile Books.
Selected articles, to be announced.
10: International Cooperation and the Design of Global Economic Institutions (M. Sampson)
Following the financial crisis of 2008, the role of global economic institutions has become more important than ever in facilitating and sustaining international economic cooperation in areas from financial regulation to international trade. These institutions also increasingly shape the domestic economic and political policies available to states. Given the crucial role of such institutions in the contemporary international system, a great deal of important research in international political economy has focused on describing the various factors shaping the design and evolution of these institutions as well as the consequences of such choices. This bachelor’s project will begin by exploring and evaluating broad analytical approaches to international cooperation, as well as questioning the role of power, timing, and ideas in shaping the design of global economic institutions. Related questions focusing on the distributional consequences of particular institutional designs will also be addressed. In this project global economic institutions are broadly defined to include not only organizations such as the WTO, IMF, and World Bank but also governance arrangements, regulations, and international agreements.
11: International Law, Use of Force, and Protection of Human Rights (M. Kinacioglu)
This thesis seminar is designed to support bachelor students in conceptualizing, structuring and writing their projects on topics related to the law of the use of force in international relations, and the instruments and institutions for protection of human rights. It provides for key conceptual foundations of resort to force and human rights, and introduces main theoretical debates with special emphasis on questions related to the current practice, legitimacy and efficiency. The seminar also includes methodological aspects with a focus on normative research design. It invites project proposals that involve several aspects, diverse issues and current debates regarding the use of force and human rights.
Upon successful completion of this course, students are able to:
Reflect on key debates in the law of the use of force and in relation to both multilateral and unilateral military interventions;
Have a solid knowledge of how international legal norms on the use of force and humanitarian intervention have evolved and implemented by international organisations and states;
Identify the principle instruments of human rights at the international level;
Assess efficacy of the major international enforcement mechanisms and international human rights norms.
Upon successful completion of this course, students are able to:
Conduct research in legal-normative issues with substance and structure;
Think analytically and critically, and present and support rigorous, well-developed arguments;
Compare and contrast different cases of the use of force;
Discuss dilemmas in the protection of human rights;
Mode of instruction
The course consists of 14 two-hour interactive seminars, which involve lectures, discussions and group work, exploring the research on the use of force and human rights. Students are expected to participate actively by raising questions and developing ideas based on the readings, class discussions and lectures. Lectures will also focus on designing research, formulating research questions, drawing conceptual framework and research strategies.
12: Sovereignity, Secession and Unrecognized States (F. Fliervoet)
In 2011, South Sudan was the latest country to become a member of the United Nations. The South Sudanese had fought a long and bloody secessionist war with Sudan until 2005, when a peace agreement was reached that allowed the South Sudanese to vote in a referendum on independence six years later. But independence did not bring peace: Since 2011, South Sudan has been embroiled in both internal and external conflict, leaving some to ask: “What was the point of independence if we are still destitute and in chaos?”
In this Bachelor project (BAP), we will investigate the role of secessionist movements in transforming the international system. Secessionist movements challenge the sovereignty, authority and legitimacy of the state of which they are part, while simultaneously trying to reproduce those very same characteristics in an effort to achieve international recognition.
Three central themes will be covered in this BAP. First, we will revisit the principle of sovereignty that is at the heart of the modern state, and investigate under which circumstances state sovereignty is challenged. How do states emerge, and how do they disappear? Why do some groups refuse to recognize the authority of the state of which they are formally part? And how do states and international organizations respond when this happens?
Second, we will examine theories and practices of secession. Recognizing the tension between the principles of territorial integrity and self-determination, we will debate whether there is such a thing as a ‘right to secession,’ and look critically at partition as a solution to ethnic war. We will further examine the peaceful and violent strategies of secession that are used by those pursuing statehood, and investigate why some succeed in achieving recognition while others fail.
Third, we will explore the phenomenon of unrecognized states and take a closer look at their internal and external politics. After gaining an understanding of the difference between de facto and de jure statehood, we will study empirical examples of cases that achieved the former, but not the latter.
We will explore these themes in a seminar format in Block III; in Block IV, we will shift mostly to individual meetings as students work on their individual research projects and write their Bachelor thesis.
13: The Welfare State in International Perspective (van Reuler)
How can we explain the development of welfare states in different countries? This is the question that will take centre stage during this bachelor project.
Since the Second World War, many western states introduced extensive provisions to guarantee a minimum standard of living for their citizens. Health care, education, income security, and public housing are all among the functions of the welfare state. Since the 1970s, many governments have attempted - though with mixed results - to scale back their welfare state. The great recession formed a strong impetus for renewed debates and reforms, which often unfolded at an unprecedented scale and pace. Also the COVID-19 pandemic is having a strong influence on welfare state policies in many countries.
During the first block, we will start with discussing the historical development of welfare states and the major academic debates surrounding them. We will also have sessions on topics such as the influence of globalisation on the welfare state and political parties and the welfare state. Once this foundation has been laid, we will look into the welfare state from a comparative and transnational perspective. The comparative perspective means that we will analyse and compare developments in various countries. The transnational perspective involves looking at policy transfer, including the impact of international organisations, such as the World Bank, on the development of welfare states.
The welfare state is generally considered an inherently western concept. Therefore, the focus of the seminars during block 3 will mostly be on this group of countries. However, students are allowed to work on topics related to social policies in non-western countries for their thesis.
This bachelor project will have a focus on qualitative methods, but a mixed methods approach is also an option.
This project has only room for 10 participants.
14: New title - (tba)
15: New title - (D. Davila Gordillo)
16: Readings in the History of Political Thought - (M. Longo)
This Bachelor Project engages close, critical reading of texts in the history of political thought, focusing on the modern era (roughly 16th – 19th century). This period oversaw huge political and economic changes – the rise of the modern state, liberalism, capitalism – and spawned equally significant contributions to political philosophy. Debates in this period regarded themes such as sovereignty, justice, democracy, obedience, and freedom – all of which remain pressing today.
This year the BAP will take an in-depth look at one of the most important authors within this varied canon – Friedrich Nietzsche. Class will center on a close reading of his seminal work of political philosophy, On the Genealogy of Morals, as well as shorter readings from The Gay Science and Untimely Meditations; it was also look at secondary literature that engages critically with his legacy. During class we will reason through and debate a wide range of subjects, including the intertwining of politics and morality, the relationship between citizen and state, the role of theology in the secular era, and take a careful look at genealogy as a mode of political inquiry.
For their final theses, students will be asked to draw on this material to develop their own unique reading of the primary source material and use it to contribute to contemporary debates in the field.
Block III will be primarily substantive, working through the texts and articles in careful detail. By the end of the block, students will have developed skills necessary to critically evaluate primary sources and substantiate arguments in the field. There will be two written assignments – one focused on explicating primary sources; the second based on analyzing debates within the secondary literature. In Block IV, students will work independently to create their own arguments, drawing upon their own reading of the primary source material, to answer a question and advance a debate of their choosing. This term will involve extensive student-teacher dialogue, as well as group discussions, to help bring the projects to fruition.
The syllabus will be distributed before the first meeting of class. Because this is a reading intensive course, it makes sense to get a head start on some of the readings beforehand.
17: Politics of Authoritarian Regimes (K. Koehler)
The global advancement of democracy notwithstanding, about 40 percent of countries around the world remain dominated by non-democratic regimes. Recent discussions on democratic backsliding, moreover, suggest that non-democratic forms of political rule might become more, rather than less prominent in the years to come. Some even see the contrast between democracy and authoritarianism as a structuring feature of the contemporary international system.
What do we know about the politics of authoritarian rule? Why are some countries autocratic and others not? What determines the durability of autocracy? What can we say about transitions from or to authoritarian rule? Why do different autocracies rely on different institutional configurations? What role do processes and institutions such as elections, ruling and opposition parties, social movements and protest groups play under non-democratic conditions? These are some of the questions we will discuss in this BAP.
Geographically speaking, authoritarian and hybrid regimes tend to cluster in less developed areas of the world, sometimes (rather imprecisely) referred to as the Global South. While my own research focuses on the Middle East and North Africa, the BAP will draw on cases from different world regions, as well as on available large-N studies. The substantive part will also include and introduction to different datasets which are routinely used by scholars of autocratic regimes. Participants are encouraged to develop their own thesis projects in relation to the topics covered in the course, drawing on either small-N comparative or quantitative methods.
Thematically, the BA project focuses broadly on the dynamics of non-democratic political rule, including hybrid regimes and closed autocracies. The substantive part in Block 1 addresses core conceptual and empirical debates around the politics of non-democratic rule. We will rely on Democracies & Authoritarian Regimes by Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Natasha Lindstaedt and Erica Frantz (Oxford UP, 2019) as the main text, supplemented by more specific readings as appropriate. Specific topics include autocratic and hybrid regimes and regime typologies, the consequences of non-democratic rule, the dynamics of autocratic durability, regime change from and to autocracy, as well as democratic backsliding.
18: Social Movements and Political Violence (C. Jentzsch)
This Bachelor’s project (BAP) focuses on the links between civil resistance, social movements and political violence. Civil resistance can take on a variety of forms and social movements engage in different activities to achieve their goals. This BAP seeks to study the linkages between these different forms to analyze processes of escalation and radicalization of contentious collective action.
The substantive component of the BAP is divided into three parts. The first part introduces students to the general topic of civil resistance and social movements: Why do social movements and civil resistance campaigns emerge? Why do people join such campaigns? What do social movements do?
The second part then focuses on the dynamics of state-movement interactions: Under what conditions does civil resistance remain peaceful? Why do states sometimes accommodate and why sometimes repress protest? Under what conditions does nonviolent civil resistance “work” to achieve a movement’s goals?
The third part of the course focuses on the dynamics of intra-movement competition and transformation. How and why do movement tactics evolve? Under what conditions do social movements turn to violence to achieve their goals? What types of violence do they engage in? Under what conditions do social movements produce armed groups?
The types of political violence we will discuss include state repression, riots, political assassinations, terrorism, and civil war. Empirical examples will primarily come from Latin America and Africa, but also from the US and Europe, and include historical and contemporary examples, ranging from the Dutch resistance against German occupation during World War II to the Arab Uprisings in 2010/2011. The assignments during the substantive component of the BAP ask students to make use of a variety of primary and secondary sources, including visual media, and include both individual writing assignments and group presentations.
During the thesis-writing component of the course, students will learn how to plan and write case studies and develop a case study for the Bachelor’s thesis. For the thesis, students are asked to choose one theme studied during the substantive component of the BAP, develop a well-identified research question relevant to that theme, and apply appropriate concepts and theories to a social movement of their choosing. The research for the thesis should go well beyond course readings and include a range of primary and secondary data, including visual media where appropriate.
19: The European Union in Crisis: Challenges, Compromises, Results (A. Schilin)
In the last decade, the European Union (EU) has been confronted with multiple crises. The nature of crises was diverse, affecting key policy areas such as the economic and monetary union, justice and home affairs, common foreign and security policy, environmental and health affairs, as well as crucial constitutional aspects. As a supranational polity with a complex multi-level governance system, the EU was not equipped to deal with emergency politics. The EU response to crises was often slow, fragmented, and incomplete, attracting criticism both from a problem-solving and democratic legitimacy perspective. Against this background, Eurosceptic parties have gained ground across Member States, making it even more difficult for governments to reach compromises on collective solutions.
This bachelor project will explore specific challenges faced by the EU in recent years. The substantive part of the course will cover different crisis episodes in detail: the euro crisis, the refugee crisis, the Ukraine crisis, the CETA trade crisis, Brexit and the rule of law crisis, climate change and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The emphasis will be on 1) institutional responses to crisis situations, 2) decision-making under time pressure and domestic constraints, and 3) outcomes for the European integration process more generally.
In the second part of the course, students will write individual theses on an EU crisis of their choice. Research questions can address explanations for EU responses to a crisis (drawing on European integration theory), agenda-setting and EU leadership during crises, decision-making and intra-/interinstitutional negotiation dynamics, but also governance results of EU crisis management. Supervision will focus on case study design and qualitative methods, although the course is open to all methodological approaches.
Understand EU responses to recent crises in different policy areas
Gain in-depth knowledge of a particular crisis episode and its treatment in the specialised literature
Identify research question(s), write literature review, and conduct own empirical analysis of a specific crisis
Dinan, Desmond, Neill Nugent, and William E. Paterson, eds. 2017. The European Union in Crisis. London: Palgrave Macmillan Education.