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: On Friday 20 May 2022 an information session concerning the Bachelor Project (BAP) will be held from 14:00-16:30 hours in CDH-WYNHAVEN 2.02. Students will receive the invitation by mail from the SSC.
Semester II: The information on the Bachelor Project of semester II, will be shared with you later this year.
Enrollment Bachelor Project
Semester I: The information on the Bachelor Project for semester I will be shared with you at the meeting above.
Semester II: The information on the Bachelor Project 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 23 December 2022, 17:00h.
BAP semester 2: Friday 26 May 2023, 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 10 February 2023, 17:00h.
BAP semester 2: Tuesday 11 July 2023, 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
Approved theses are stored in the Student Repository of the Leiden Repository after completion of the Bachelor Project. Students will have to sign a statement for this.
Bachelor Project themes
01: International Organizations: Power, Interests, and Decision-Making - (J. Heaphy)
This BAP has been cancelled
02: 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 the course (block I) 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 (block II), 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 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.
03: International Collective Action; its Problems and Solutions - (R. Hagen)
This BAP has been cancelled
04: Inclusiveness, State-building and Peace-building - (A. Rrustemi)
This BAP has been cancelled
05: Justice and Equality in a Globalised World - (M. Verschoor/J. Daemen)
In January 2022, Oxfam reported that during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic the ten richest men on earth more than doubled their wealth, whereas 99 percent of people worldwide saw their income fall, and 160 million were forced into poverty. To most readers, this probably sounds like an instance of blatant injustice. But why exactly would inequalities like this be unjust? In order to answer this question, we have to turn to political philosophy.
Political philosophers have long occupied themselves with the question what people owe to each other. In response to this question, different thinkers have developed different views of justice and equality. Liberal egalitarians suggest that all members of society ought to enjoy equal basic liberties, while inequalities in income and wealth are allowed under particular conditions. Libertarians argue that such inequalities do not have to be unjust as long as they are the result of voluntary transactions between free individuals. Luck egalitarians take it that it is only unjust when one person is worse off than another as a result of bad luck, rather than her own choices. Relational egalitarians point out that equality is ultimately not about how certain goods are distributed among people, but about the way in which people relate to one another: what matters is whether they enjoy equal standing or respect. This brings into focus not just material inequalities, but also problems of domination and oppression.
Each of the views mentioned above yields another answer to the question what we owe to one another. But even if we settle on an answer to this question, there remains a further question to be asked, namely: To whom do we owe this? For a long time, political philosophers simply took it for granted that the notions of justice and equality apply to the domestic sphere only. If justice requires that individuals be treated as equals in some respect, then surely, many assumed uncritically, the scope of this requirement is limited to the domestic context. According to this statist view, justice is something co-nationals, i.e. citizens belonging to the same state, owe to each other. It is not something co-nationals owe to foreigners.
Recently, however, political philosophers have started to wonder whether the notion of justice could – and indeed 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 interdependent. 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.
This has 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 both the content and the scope of justice and equality. In the first, substantive part of the project (weeks 1-6), students become familiar with the most influential accounts of justice and equality in contemporary political philosophy (weeks 1-3), and the main statist and cosmopolitan views as well as various aspects of the academic debate on the scope of justice in a globalised world (weeks 4-6). In the second, thesis-specific part (weeks 7-16), students develop a philosophical perspective connected to one of the topics discussed in the first phase of the project, be it with respect to the content of justice and equality (weeks 1-3), or the scope of these values in a globalised world (weeks 4-6).
06: 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; understanding affective polarization in Israel; why some people think economic inequality is a societal problem using cross-national survey evidence; nationalism and voting behavior in Turkey; the relationship between economic inequality and trust in the police across the world; 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.
07: The Politics of Public Health in Developing Countries - (J. Phillips)
Subject matter: Why are some societies ‘healthier’ than others? Even within the same country, rates of vaccination, disease incidence, and public spending on prevention can vary enormously. This Bachelor’s Project focuses on the political factors – competition, state capacity, information, trust, social norms, networks, corruption, ideology, international cooperation – that shape public health outcomes. It pays particular attention to primary healthcare, to preventive healthcare and to communicable diseases, so the focus is primarily on developing countries rather than on the OECD, though we will consider a limited number of examples from more developed countries.
By definition, public health is political, since it deals with the duration and quality of life of the population as a whole. Individuals’ choices – whether over the payment of taxes, the choice to smoke, the purchase of health insurance, or vaccination – affect the health outcomes of others, generating complex political conflicts and requiring collective, coordinated solutions.
In the first part of the project (Block I, we will examine inequalities in healthcare outcomes and explore the extent to which politics drives this variation. We will first discuss how ‘macro’ level variables such as whether a country is a democracy, openness to trade, colonial histories, and international collaboration explain the spread and containment of diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and Covid-19, and different rates of child mortality. We then examine how ‘micro’ level variables such as individuals’ access to information, their social relationships, experiences shaped by gender and ethnicity, and their trust in government, affect their likelihood of taking public health precautions such as vaccination or visiting a clinic. Finally, we examine how health policy reform is produced and the conditions under which politicians are most likely to invest in improving both the supply of public health services and stimulating the demand to use these services.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made clear the importance and political divisiveness of public health measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and vaccination. This is not a course about Covid-19, in part because there are many equally pressing public health pressures in developing countries, but we will discuss some of the evidence collected during the Covid-19 pandemic to understand the wide variation in governments’ and individuals’ responses.
In the second part of the project (Block II), students will build on the theories, arguments and evidence learned in the first part to explore their own research questions on the political determinants of public health. Students’ projects should focus on a specific, measurable dimension of public health, and develop a research design to understand and explain variation in that dimension. We will discuss in class all elements of the research process, including how to choose a well-defined research question, concepts and measurement, choosing a research design and methodology, and how to organize and write your thesis.
Research methods: Methodologically, this BAP is agnostic, and students can develop theses using qualitative or quantitative methods. However, all projects are expected to use systematic and appropriate methods for either the generation or testing of specific hypotheses. During the first block, I will identify and indicate how to access a range of useful quantitative datasets containing relevant variables, particularly with an emphasis on causal inference. The most appropriate qualitative methods are likely to include comparative case studies, systematic process tracing, or primary data collection through interviews or focus groups.
08: Sovereignty, Secession and Contested States - (F. Fliervoet)
This BAP has been cancelled
09: Civil Wars in Theory and Practice - (J. Schulhofer-Wohl)
This project 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.
The project makes use of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Readings use both types of methods, and theses in the course can use either or a combination of the two.
BEFORE the first meeting, please read:
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. “How to Tell a True War Story,” pp.67-80. [Brightspace]
Schulhofer-Wohl, Jonah. 2018. “Syria, Productive Antinomy, and the Study of Civil War.” Perspectives on Politics 16(4):1085–91.
Sambanis, Nicholas. 2004. “What is Civil War? Conceptual and Empirical Complexities of an Operational Definition.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 48(6):814-58.
Kalyvas, Stathis N. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. New York: Cambridge University Press. Ch. 1, “Concepts,” pp.16-31.
10: 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 manifold stresses and strains climate change has had – and will continue to have – on politics.
How should we conceptualize environmental degradation and its impact on political life? In what ways have political economic factors shaped the climate crisis and how do these vary across the Global North and South? How do environmental-political concerns 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?
Motivated by such questions, the seminar portion of the bachelor project begins with an overview of standard paradigms of thought used within the field of environmental politics (e.g., political ecology; ecological modernization; commons governance). We’ll then explore various challenges to these approaches (e.g., environmental authoritarianism; eco-Socialism), taking up issues of post-colonialism and gender in the process. The course will then turn to the politics of environmental affect, climate justice, and green activism. Cases included in the course will reflect diverse global regions.
This BAP is amenable to a variety of qualitative methodological approaches, however, explicit methods guidance and instruction will focus on theoretical and conceptual analysis. Therefore, students wishing to use a different qualitative method in their thesis should be prepared to draw on prior methods training.
11: Global Legal Treaties, 1648-1914 - (C. Vergerio)
The stories we tell about the past inevitably shape the way we think about the present and imagine the future. This thesis seminar invites students to reassess standard narratives about the making of modern international relations by working with a database that contains all recorded international legal treaties signed since 1648. As the course constitutes a foray into the field of “historical IR”, projects will be required to focus primarily on treaties signed before 1914.
Block III will be seminar-based and will provide a two-pronged substantive introduction to the field. First, we will survey some of the standard narratives about how international relations operated between 1648 and 1914. Then, we will read the main scholarly contributions that have used global legal treaties in order to challenge these narratives. These works focus on rethinking the way that core elements of the modern international system – sovereignty, territoriality, war, and so forth – operated prior to the twentieth century. Second, we will reflect on the methodological challenges and opportunities that arise when working with global legal treaties. By the end of Block III, students should have a clear picture of how to use historical treaties in order to make novel contributions to our understanding of the history of international relations. Block IV will then give students a chance to define their own research question and to work independently with these treaties. During this block, the class format will shift to individual supervisions.
This thesis seminar is best suited for students with a profound interest in the history of international relations. Multilingualism is a plus, as working with treaties in multiple languages adds significant depth to most research projects. Expect a heavy reading load; the syllabus will be circulated three weeks before the start of Block III and students are expected to come the first class having completed the preliminary reading.
12: 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.
13: International Law, Use of Force, and Protection of Human Rights - (M. Kinacioglú)
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.
14: Politics of Authoritarian Regimes - (K. Köhler)
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.
15: 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.
16: Social Movements and Political Violence (C. Jentzsch)
The Bachelor’s project (BAP) Social Movements and Political Violence 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.
The substantive component of the BAP will provide students with an overview of the important concepts and theories in the field of social movements and political violence, demonstrate how to apply them to specific cases, and provide students with ideas for the thesis. For the thesis, students are asked to choose one theme from the syllabus, 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. During the thesis-writing component of the BAP, students will learn how to plan and write case studies and develop and conduct their own case study using primarily qualitative methods.
17: The European Union in Crisis: Challenges, Compromises, Results (A. Akbik)
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.
In terms of methods, this BAP will focus on case study and comparative research designs using qualitative or simple mixed method designs. This includes content analysis, discourse analysis, process tracing and basic descriptive analyses of pre-existing data. It will not be possible to write a thesis using advanced statistical analyses. While it is not necessary to have a concrete research question before the start of the bachelor project, you will be required early in the course to think about potential episodes of crises that you are interested in, as well as about the type of material that you would like to use.
1. Understand EU responses to recent crises in different policy areas.
2. Gain in-depth knowledge of a particular crisis episode and its treatment in the specialised literature.
3. Identify research question(s), write a literature review, and conduct own empirical analysis of a specific crisis.
4. Part I (weeks 1-6): Two written assignments – empirical puzzle/problem definition (20%) and literature review (50%) – plus team presentation (30%).
5. Part II (weeks 7-16): Thesis proposal (20%) and final BA thesis (80%).
Riddervold, M., Trondal, J., & Newsome, A. (Eds.). (2021). The Palgrave Handbook of EU Crises. Springer International Publishing.
18: The Welfare State in International Perspective (E. 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.
19: Democratisation Processes in Contemporary Africa (L. Demarest)
Democratization Processes in Contemporary Africa - 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.