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Bachelor Project Internationale Politiek 2021-2022

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2021-2022

Admission Requirements

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 Leiden

Semester I: The information on the Bachelor Projects of 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.

Registration for Bachelor Project

Semester I: The information on the Bachelor Projects of 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.

Language

The thesis of the Bachelor Project Internationale Politiek will be written in English.
If you want to write your thesis in Dutch please consult your BAP teacher in advance.

Study materials

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.

Description

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 on the student’s own, original research.

Assessment Method

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.

Final product:

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.

Deadlines:

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).

Bachelor Project themes:

Semester I

01: Global Migration: Trends, Drivers and Dynamics - (K. Natter)
Why do people move? How do they decide when and where to go? Does development lead to more or less migration? And what is the role of migration policies and world politics in shaping human mobility? In this bachelor project, we will explore major trends, drivers and dynamics of international migration through historical and contemporary perspectives from around the globe.
In the first part of the bachelor seminar, you will get acquainted with the state-of-the-art migration theories and contrast their insights with empirical evidence from case studies, quantitative and qualitative comparative research on migration drivers. The seminars focus on the political, economic, technological, cultural and environmental forces that structure migration patterns around the globe.
The goal is to interrogate some of the deeply rooted assumptions that dominate political and popular narratives on migration. In particular, we will question the dominant Western-centric views that tend to explain migration as a simple reaction to poverty and conflict, framing it as a movement of mostly poor people from the ‘Global South’ to rich industrialized nations in the ‘Global North’. This does not correspond to reality. Therefore, this bachelor project invites you to think about migration as an intrinsic part of people’s life aspirations and to see global migration as both cause and consequence of broader social change around the world.
At the end of part 1, you will have gained foundational theoretical and empirical knowledge about the trends, drivers and dynamics structuring global migration and be able to critically reflect about common ways of categorizing, framing and analysing migration. This will not only be essential for your thesis writing, but will also allow you to contribute gain new perspectives on the heated societal and political debates about migration.
In the second part of the bachelor project, you will work on your individual research project, mobilizing the theoretical frameworks and topics discussed in the seminars to investigate migration dynamics and its drivers in one particular case. The goal is to develop your own research question, review relevant literature and conduct a simple, yet original empirical analysis. I particularly encourage thesis projects that have a comparative angle and/or look at migration dynamics outside of the ‘Global North’.
In terms of methods, this seminar will focus on case study and comparative research designs using qualitative or mixed methods (discourse analysis, descriptive migration and survey data analysis, interviews). It will not be possible to write a thesis based on advanced statistical analyses only. While it is not necessary to have a concrete research question before the start of the bachelor project, I will ask you early on in the course to think about potential cases or aspects of migration that you are particularly interested in, as well as about the type of material you would like to use.

Feel free to contact me ahead in time if you are unsure whether your thesis idea fits within this bachelor project.

02: International Organisations and Complex Global Challenges - (D. deRock/J. Heaphy-Lang)
Since the mid-twentieth century, states have attempted to coordinate global affairs through international organisations (IOs) such at the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Today, IOs are in a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, multilateral cooperation is urgent – perhaps more than ever – in the face of the climate crisis, a global pandemic, economic inequality, and other challenges. On the other hand, many citizens and policymakers are expressing distrust of IOs. Contestation comes from multiple directions, including from nationalist and populist leaders, critics of neoliberalism, and those who simply think IOs are not effective enough.
In this Bachelor Project, we will investigate the roles of IOs in this complex global landscape. The seminar explores IOs from historical, contemporary, and forward-looking perspectives. We will address questions such as: Why have states decided to create and join IOs in the first place? Are IOs the ‘puppets’ of powerful states, or are they powerful actors in their own right? Do developing countries have an equal say in IO policies, and if not, why not? And are the IOs of today capable of meeting the governance challenges of tomorrow?
Substantively, the first part of the course will emphasize themes related to (a) global development policy, (b) environmental governance, and (c) sustainable development (the intersection of the first two themes). Examples of topics covered in the readings include poverty reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals, and climate policy. In terms of theory, we will consider a range of perspectives, including constructivist, principal-agent, and critical approaches.
For the Bachelor thesis, students are free to choose from a much wider range of topics – anything from peacekeeping to artificial intelligence, as long as international organisations are at the center of the research. Regarding research methods, the seminar is best suited for qualitative methods. After the substantive part of the course, we will turn to research design and tools for qualitative case studies. Mixed methods are accepted, but be aware that there will not be any instruction on quantitative methods.
The reading list will be available before the start of the course. This will include both required and recommended articles and book chapters.
This Bachelor Project is also accessible for IRO students

Semester II

03: External Relations of the European Union - (dr. K. Pomorska)
What is the role of the European Union in the world? How do national foreign policies relate to the EU’s foreign policy? Are member states still able to conduct their own ‘sovereign’ foreign policy? The European Union has by now been broadly acknowledged as an international actor, even though an unusual one. There is no ‘government’, which could define the ‘national interest’ and make executive decisions about the policy goals. Instead, we have a complex institutional set-up, based on a compromise and agreement from all 27 member states. As far as the EU’s strong position in the area of trade or development is rarely questioned, it is still believed to be “punching below its weight” in foreign and security policies.

In this project, we will study the foreign policy and, more broadly understood external relations, of the European Union and its member states. Students will be able to choose an area of their interest, e.g. policy towards the United States, Russia or China; or to focus on studying particular instruments of EU’s foreign policy, like sanctions. We will investigate the process in which the European position is established and the circumstances under which EU member states are able to speak with one voice and when is it difficult to agree on a common goal. Students may also consider how the policy coordination impacts effectiveness. In the second part of the course, the students will focus on their individual research projects and write a thesis on the topic identified earlier in the course.

04: International Law and Human Rights under Pressure - (dr. A. Hussain)
In 1925, on Gibbs Road, Bombay’s plushest avenue, a group of hired goons sprayed the car of a former nautch-girl and her wealthy Muslim lover with bullets, severely injuring the girl and killing the man on the spot. After a tediously long investigation, the police announced that the Raja of Indore was behind the attack. As the inquiry revealed, the girl had just recently escaped the Raja’s harem, where he had caged her from the age of twelve. Bombay was then under British rule. Indore was one of roughly six hundred sovereign princely states on the Indian subcontinent. When the British demanded answers from the Raja, he pointed towards International Law. As a sovereign entity, he wittingly unspooled, the British could do nothing to hold him accountable. Or could they?

In this bachelor project, we will look at the themes, theories, and methods that scholarship on international law has produced to think through such questions. In the instruction part, we will examine the history, the sources and subjects, and the institutions behind international law and human rights. You will learn the different approaches that lawyers, political scientists, and historians have taken to structure, frame, analyse, and at times even deconstruct, issues around sovereignty, the responsibility to protect, and human rights. Throughout the course, we will train your acquired knowledge by linking it to landmark cases that have stirred both academic and public debate in recent years. In the second part of the instruction, we will focus more squarely on how to formulate a research question and the qualitative or mixed methodologies that will help you to make an original and winning case for your essay. We will train how to communicate your findings in such a way that they remain accessible to a knowledgeable audience.

Building on the empirical knowledge and the theoretical frameworks acquired, the research part will consist of an individual study. You are free to pick any topic that falls within the range of the discussed themes and theoretical frameworks. It is always good to start thinking about your research question early. Therefore, I will nod towards potential fields and problems that have received scant scholarly attention throughout the course. If you have any further questions, do reach out to me.

05: Democratization Processes in Contemporary Africa - (dr. L. Demarest)
In most Sub-Saharan African countries, the optimism that followed the early years of independence quickly turned to pessimism in the face of economic crises and the tightening grip of authoritarian leaders on political and civil rights. In the early 1990s, however, the winds of change appeared to alter the face of the continent and many countries reintroduced multiparty democracy. Over time, several countries have been able to transition to stable democracies (e.g. Ghana, Benin, Senegal), but others continue to experience authoritarian rule and setbacks (e.g. coups). Moreover, civil war and political violence have not declined since the 1990s and democratization processes risk fueling violence as well (e.g. electoral violence). Finally, while democratization has not appeared to bring a ‘peace dividend’, the same can be said with regard to economic development as African governments have not been able to bring their economies on stable growth paths.
This Bachelor project seminar focuses on democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa and two overarching research questions: 1. Why do some countries democratize successfully while others do not, and 2. What are the advantages brought by democracy for the improvement of African lives? During the first part of the course students will gain insight in the political and economic histories and characteristics of African countries, as well as key actors in African politics (e.g. elites, parties, civil society, international community etc.). They will also be acquainted with important contributions in this field. During the second part of the course, students will formulate their research questions within the overarching framework of the seminar, develop their research designs, and conduct their own empirical research. To assist in their research, students are introduced to the Afrobarometer public opinion surveys. Other data sources covered include Freedom House, Polity IV, World Development Indicators, the UCDP conflict datasets, and the AllAfrica.com news archives. Students can make use of quantitative as well as qualitative research methods.

Timetable

Timetable