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Bachelor Project International Relations and Organisations, Semester I, 2023-2024


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 Academic Skills: Research Design (5 EC) and Research Methods in Political Science (10 EC).

Note: as of 2024-25, 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 Academic Skills: Research Design (5 EC), Statistics II (5 EC) and Qualitative Research Methods (5 EC).

Bachelor Project Information Meetings The Hague

Semester I: On Tuesday, 30 May 2023 an information session concerning the Bachelor Project (BAP) and the planning of the BAP in year 3 will be held from 11:15-13:00 hours in CDH-WYNHAVEN 2.60. Students will receive the invitation by mail from the SSC. Register for the BAP information meeting in MyStudymap, the course appears automatically in year 3.

Registration for Bachelor Project

Semester I: The information on the Bachelor Project for semester I will be shared with you at the meeting above. Only students who registered for the information session will be able to register for a Bachelor Project via MyStudymap. This can be done between Tuesday 11 July 2023 13.00 hrs until Sunday 30 July 2023 23.59 hrs.
Should you have questions regarding the registration, please email the SSC via
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.

Library Instruction

On Brightspace you will find more information on the digital module 'Library instruction'.

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.

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 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 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 5,5 or higher.

Concerning retakes:

  • Since the first, substantive part of the BAP counts for less than 50% towards the final grade, students who obtain an insufficient partial grade for that part do not have the right to a retake.

  • Since the second, thesis-specific part of the BAP counts for 50% or more towards the final grade, students who obtain an insufficient partial grade for that part do have the right to a retake. See appendix B for more specifics.

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.


BAP semester I: Friday 22 December 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 I: Monday 12 February 2024, 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

Semester I:

101: The Politics of Public Health in Developing Countries - (J. Phillips)
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, ethnicity, 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, colonial histories, and international collaboration explain national differences in 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, determine why some people and not others – even in the same country – take 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 analyzed 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.

Methodologically, this BAP is agnostic, and students can develop theses using qualitative or quantitative methods. However, all projects are expected to use real-world empirical data and systematic, objective and appropriate analytical methods for either the generation or testing of specific hypotheses. During the first block, I will indicate how to access a range of useful quantitative datasets containing relevant variables, particularly with an emphasis on answering causal questions. The most appropriate qualitative methods are likely to include comparative case studies, systematic process tracing, or primary data collection through interviews or focus groups

102: Justice in a Globalised World - (M. Verschoor)
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).

103: 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 empirical questions including the comparative influence of economic and cultural threats on attitudes toward immigration in economically developing and developed countries; the effect of Islamophobic rhetoric on Muslim’s collective self-esteem using a survey experiment; the relationship between social sorting and Brexit affective polarization in the UK; why some people think economic inequality is a societal problem using cross-national survey evidence; 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 relevance of personal values for understanding issue preferences, and pro-democracy attitudes, in China and Hong Kong.

104: 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 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 action 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 climate justice demands and who should secure it.
The course is divided into two parts. In the first part, which will take place in Block I, 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? What value and status should we recognize to species, ecosystems and nature in general? The next set of issues revolves around 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, those that have the greatest level of past and present emissions, or those that have benefitted the most from the emissions? Finally, the third set of issues concerns the responsibilities of different types of actors, including corporations and individuals. How can we characterize the responsibilities of corporations, especially oil companies, for climate change? What, if anything, individuals should do regarding climate change? Should we cut our emissions and significantly change our lifestyles? Are we morally required to take collective actions in order to make systemic changes? 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 II, you will develop your bachelor theses on topics of your choice that 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.