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 (5EC) 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 II: The information session will be offered online, in block 2. Students will receive the invitation by mail from the SSC.
Registration for Bachelor Project
Semester II: The information will be available in November 2023.
Should you have questions regarding the registration, please email the SSC via email@example.com.
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.
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. Obtaining a sufficient grade for this part of the BAP is not a necessary condition for passing the course.
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. Obtaining a sufficient grade for this part of the BAP is a necessary condition for passing the course. This means that a (sufficiently high) partial grade for the second part of the BAP can compensate an insufficient partial grade for the first part of the BAP.
The final grade is the weighted average of both partial grades. In order to pass the entire BAP (20 ECTS), the final grade must be sufficient (i.e. at least 5,5) and, as stated above, the grade for the full thesis must be sufficient (i.e. at least 5,5) as well.
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.
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.
Semester II: Friday 24 May 2024, 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 II: Friday 5 July 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
105: Grand Strategy in the 21st Century - P. van Hooft
After decades of seeming geopolitical calm, competition and the risk of open conflict between great powers has returned as a consequence of the relative decline of the United States, the rise of China, and Russian revisionism. The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has most clearly signaled the end of an era, but the Sino-American competition has been rapidly intensifying. States are investing in modernizing their conventional and nuclear arsenals, with emerging technologies further disrupting strategic stability. The current redistribution of power is taking place within a global order that is increasingly integrated and interdependent. This adds to the overall complexity of the environment and reconciling these two major trends is one of the premier analytical and policy challenges of the contemporary era.
Grand strategy is how states manage their environment with the resources available to them. The concept encompasses the highest level of statecraft, encompassing a wide range of instruments - diplomacy, military force, economic policies, and others - that can be, and historically have been, assembled in a great many different combinations, and with varying levels of coherence and success.
In this course, students will investigate how actors are responding strategically to global and regional developments. Students will tackle these difficult issues in their theses through both theoretical and empirical work, the latter in the form of in-depth case studies, comparative work, or quantitative research. The range of subjects that fit in this theme are broad and include: the future of American grand strategy; European security policy; assertive China; resurgent Russia; instability in the Middle East; alliances in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere; nuclear weapons and proliferation; emerging (dual-use) technologies; civil-military relations; and resurgent nationalism.
106: The Politics of Mobilization and Repression - B. Rezaeedaryakenari
The substantive focus of this Bachelor’s project (BAP) is on the dynamics of contentious collective actions, where dissidents in society challenge the status quo and the state responds to these challenges. Therefore, a broad range of research questions on the dynamics of mobilization and repression can be explored. Participants can explore topics like how popular uprisings start, turn into a movement, and then succeed or demobilize; how dissidents collectively challenge the status quo; how dissidents mobilize resources and recruit new members; whether the methods of resistance, violent or nonviolent, matters for the success of a movement; why states use repression against dissidents; whether state repression is effective; why elites and security forces defect during a movement; and so forth. Conflict events from French Revolution to the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter and Climate Movement are within the scope of this seminar.
Since this seminar’s primary goal is helping participants prepare for writing their BAP, besides the substantive focus on the dissent-repression nexus, it provides reading materials and discussions on commonly used research methods in this literature and required academic skills. Although this BAP is open to different epistemological and methodological approaches, it best suits those students interested in the quantitative study of politics.
107: International law and the life and death of states - Y. Zhu
Statehood is the most fundamental of all international legal institutions; yet the laws surrounding the birth and, more rarely, the death of states remain surprisingly muddled. Indeed, there is today no generally accepted legal framework governing the death of states, even though global warming will wipe off island states in the Pacific within the next few decades. Meanwhile, statehood is becoming increasingly detached from states’ capacity to actually govern their territories, and the last decades have seen the emergence of the ‘failed states’ paradigm, zombie states that retain full legal personality but who lack the capacity of performing the most basic of state functions.
This BAP will examine the international law governing the birth and death of states, both from a legal/doctrinal point of view and from a normative one. In Block III, you will study the existing body of law in this area in a seminar format, and critically assess the existing legal state of affairs. At the end of Block II and during Block IV, you will develop your own research question and pursue a research project related to the topic, under individualized supervision.
Methodologically, this BAP will focus on qualitative methods, and in particular legal analysis, both of the “black letter law” sort and the more normative approach. The course readings will include complex legal documents, reflecting the nature of the subject.
108: 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 – 20th 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 – Hannah Arendt. Class will center on a close reading of her seminal work of political philosophy, The Human Condition; it was also look at secondary literature that engages critically with her legacy. During class we will reason through and debate a wide range of subjects that emerge from this text, including the intertwining of politics and morality, the relationship between citizen and state, and the role of theology in the secular era.
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.
109: 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.
110: Contentious Political Action in Democracies and Authoritarian States in Asia - S. Kwak
This Bachelor's Project delves into the complex dynamics between citizens' political action and state responses, focusing specifically on contentious forms of political engagement. While conventional political actions like voting are commonplace, this project focuses on more assertive and disruptive practices such as protests, boycotts, sit-ins, and violent riots. These methods are employed by individuals and groups to voice their grievances and advocate for policy changes or institutional reforms. It is crucial to recognize that contentious political action is observed in both democratic and authoritarian states. However, the approaches, logics, and dynamics of state responses to such actions can differ significantly across countries. In particular, many Asian countries have experienced dynamic democratic development or backsliding from the post-colonial era up to the present day. Some states are still under single-party or autocratic rule, while others exhibit hybrid features with a mixture of democratic and authoritarian elements. Depending on the political, social, and cultural contexts, state actors may either repress or accommodate the demands put forth by these actors to varying degrees. Additionally, other institutional conditions frequently act as enabling or constraining factors, influencing the extent to which state actors engage in covert or overt repression towards citizens.
The first part of the course aims to familiarize students with key concepts and theories from existing literature on this topic. Students will explore the various elements and empirical cases related to contentious political action, while also addressing fundamental questions. These include: Why do individuals or groups take a certain form of political action, such as violent protests? What conditions lead to their mobilization and the evolution of political action? How do state actors, including security forces and the central government, respond to these forms of engagement? What are the underlying features of state-society relations in a given case? What are the short-term and long-term consequences of political action? Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of contentious political action, its relationship with state responses, and the contextual factors that shape these dynamics.
In the second part of the course, students will focus on a particular empirical case, formulate a research question, and develop their individual theses. Within the Asian region which can be further divided into several geographical sub-regions, such as Central, South, Southeast, and Northeast Asian countries, students will select a specific country. Students may opt for a comparative study by selecting two cases based on their research objectives. The course focuses on in-depth, qualitative case studies rather than quantitative approaches that involve sampling multiple countries.
111: European Health Policies - E. van Reuler
Health policy frequently makes the headlines and spending on health care counts for around ten per cent of the GDP in many European countries nowadays. In these countries, health governance is a complex field in which the government plays a major role in shaping the services delivered.
Moreover, the role of the European Union in health has been diversified and extended over the past decades. One can think of, for example, policy programmes such as the Health in all Policies programme that was developed in the early 2000s, disease specific programmes that are often initiated by countries during their EU presidency, and more recently - and most ambitiously - the European Health Union initiative, which emerged as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Bachelor Project (BAP) investigates health policy from a European perspective. For the purpose of this BAP, health is defined broadly: from public health to hospital care and from mental health care to nursing homes. The European perspective comes in through comparisons between countries as well as the European Union’s engagement with health.
During the substantive part of this BAP (block 3), we start exploring the foundations of health policy from a comparative perspective. This means getting familiar with many new terms as well as the major ways in which health care systems are organised. Afterwards, we move on to the role of the European Union and the impact of its health initiatives on health policies in the member states.
In block 4, students research a health policy related question of their choice. A European perspective is expected to be present, but if good methodological reasons exist comparisons with non-European cases are allowed. We work with qualitative methods, such as (comparative) case studies and content analysis. A mixed methods approach is also an option if it suits the research question.
112: Environmentalisms of the Right - R. Ploof
Environmentalism is now often assumed to be an issue of the left and center. Yet this has not always been the case in the past, nor is it likely to be in the future. How have those on the right historically conceptualized and taken up environmental concerns? And how, in the context of climate change, might they do so once again?
Rooted in political theory, this course examines the conceptual foundations of right environmentalisms. It explores how political philosophers – like Heidegger on the one hand and Horkheimer and Adorno on the other – have both embraced and challenged rightist approaches to nature, environment, and humanity’s relationship with the material world. Emphasizing the interplay between theory and practice, the course looks at how such thought has informed both past and present expressions of eco-fascism and eco-authoritarianism. Finally, the course considers how seemingly neutral phenomena – like depoliticization – or knowledge – like science – may be deployed toward right environmental political ends.
This BAP is amenable to a variety of qualitative methodological approaches, however, explicit methods guidance will focus on political theoretical analysis. Students wishing to use a different qualitative method in their thesis should be prepared to draw on prior methods training. Use of quantitative methods is not permitted.
Finally, please note that this BAP allocates a non-trivial portion of the part one grade to active in-class participation and may not be good fit for students who do not wish to engage in seminar discussion.
113: Civil Wars in Theory and Practice - J. Schulhofer-Wohl
Description: 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 by considering how to define civil war and whether there are different types of wars. We then analyze the recruitment of fighters (whether by government armed forces or rebel groups) and other forms of individual participation in conflict; the origins and effects of international connections and inputs to civil wars; forms of cooperation between armed groups; and military competition between armed rivals, including the role of violence against civilians. Readings cover conflicts around the world, from wars in the aftermath of the Second World War to contemporary Syria
Research Methods for the thesis: Students can use quantitative methods or qualitative methods in the thesis in this BAP (or a mixed-methods design). Since the course focuses exclusively on positivist research on civil war in the social sciences, students should not take this BAP if they want to write a thesis from a critical theory perspective or using philosophical research methods. In addition, the course emphasizes the need for methods to be linked to the research question. Students who want to write a thesis using content analysis or discourse analysis simply because these are the methods that they are most familiar with are strong discouraged from taking this BAP.
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.
114: Challenges to Democracy and the Rule of Law in European Politics - T. Theuns
Substantively, this bachelor project will dissect the successes, challenges, and evolving landscape of contemporary democratic governance and the rule of law in the context of European politics. With the rise of populism and the far-right, fundamental challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change, and a global context of fragile and deteriorating democratic government, the democratic commitment of European countries has come under sustained pressure. These developments not only demand urgent analysis to understand how and why they are taking place, they also pose fundamental ontological, conceptual and theoretical questions about the nature and future of European integration.
In terms of methods, this BAP will use and facilitate political theory methods such as normative and conceptual analysis, critical theory, genealogy and analytic political philosophy, as well as qualitative empirical designs including discourse analysis, doctrinal analysis, interpretative case studies. While descriptive analysis of existing statistical data is possible where relevant and useful, it will not be possible to write a thesis using advanced statistical analyses or quantitative data-gathering. While students need not necessarily write a bachelor’s thesis using political theory methods (critical theory, genealogy, normative political philosophy, etc.), it is essential that they are interested in political theory and confident engaging in conceptual, normative and theoretical material.
The readings in the first part of the course will be structured around my unpublished book manuscript Protecting Democracy in Europe. The book will be published in the Autumn/Winter 2024. Besides these book chapters, students should be prepared to do extensive reading of political theory and empirical political science articles on the theme of the BAP. In the second part of the course, students will write individual theses on an aspect of democracy and the rule of law in European politics. Research questions can ask conceptual, normative or theoretical questions on challenges to democracy and the rule of law in Europe, but students can also broach more empirical themes, for instance geared towards better understanding the processes of democratic and rule of law regressions, EU responses to democratic backsliding in member states, or popular/electoral support for democratic and constitutional reforms.
115: The Design and Evolution of International Economic Institutions - M. Sampson
Following the global financial crisis, euro crisis, and COVID-19 the role of global economic institutions in facilitating and sustaining international economic cooperation in areas such as financial regulation, monetary policy, and international trade has become more important than ever. At the same time, these institutions increasingly constrain the domestic economic and political policies available to states. This bachelor’s project will begin by exploring and evaluating broad analytical approaches to international economic cooperation, as well as questioning the role of power, timing, and ideas in shaping global economic institutions. Related questions focusing on the distributional consequences of particular institutions 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.
The focus of this BAP will be on qualitative methodological approaches.
116: 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.
117: Foreign Policy in Times of US Decline - C. v.d. Wetering
This course focuses on US foreign policy-making after 9/11. With the subsequent presidencies from Bush jr. to Biden, discussions have emerged about the primacy of the US and its foreign policy conduct. These discussions became particularly salient under the Trump presidency, but the US is still facing several challenges domestically and internationally. That said, the debate on US decline has been raging for decades. What this course then aims to tackle is how students can perform a foreign policy analysis in light of the manifold agents and structures that can be taken into account. In addition, it asks what the role of the US is in global affairs and it addresses a few possible crises that have been facing the US, including the challenges of other major powers and the constraints of presidential power. It throws up various questions: What are the implications of these crises or particular events for US foreign policy-making toward other countries? How are policies enabling further retraction of the US globally? In general, what actors play a large role in shaping the policy course and when are foreign policy agents able to enact change?
In terms of research methods, the course focuses on qualitative methods, ranging from empirical research methods to discourse analysis and critical theory. With regard to the reading, the course will make use of a selection of academic articles and chapters.
To reflect on academic debates regarding US decline in order to evaluate the role of the US in global affairs.
To gain an understanding of the major theories and approaches to analyze the foreign policy process and to critically assess and apply these.
118: International Development: Theories, Discourses/Debates, and Practices - C. Bejeno
This course’s substantive part aims to familiarise students with key concepts and theories in the politics of international development. The students will explore various political, development and social related theories, discourses/debates, and empirical cases, to gain advanced insights in the politics of international development. The seminar will start with a review of theories and concepts and link other key theories to give advanced insights in the politics of international development by addressing the following questions: What is development and why ‘sustainable development’? Why are some places more developed than others? Why development initiatives often fail and what development initiatives are successful - how? How can politics boost development and sustainability? What are the feminist perspectives and gender and development? How does environment or climate change and initiatives play out in development? The students, therefore, will have a general understanding of and advanced insights on development theories, discourses and practices and will be able to develop analytical and critical thinking and its application. The students will draw on various literature on international development course and this course and expectedly beyond towards developing their own research projects to contribute in the contemporary debates in the field. This course will be a combination of input and discussions, including group/peer discussions. The students, therefore, are expected to actively participate and read the assigned readings and beyond for a more fruitful discussion and successful thesis project.
In the thesis-specific part of the course, the students will focus on their thesis project – formulating their own research problem and question/s, theory, methodology, findings, and analysis. The students are encourage to choose their own research focus, preferably topics that they find inspiring and possibly impactful that would motivate their deeper understanding of this development concern, drawing from the theories in the field by using the literature of international development course and this course and several related literature. The students are also free to choose their own methodological approach so long as they are familiar with or understand the approach and the approach chosen is appropriate and well justified. Especially for those who chose the quantitative approach, students must have the training and knowledge of statistical analytical tools, for instance, SPSS and other related tools, which they could demonstrate useful in answering the research question and analysing their empirical data. Combination of methods is also possible provided feasibility, also considering the timeline, is justified. In this part of the course, the students will write their thesis project proposal and each part of the project, towards final thesis report, which will be guided by group and individual discussion and feedback sessions.