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Thesis tutorial Mesoamerica and the Andes


Compulsory attendance

Yes. Students have to attend the thesis tutorials until they have completed their thesis.

Prerequisites and restrictions

BA-diploma. Good preparation of the research is indispensable (knowledge of the culture and the methods to be applied, the local situation, the necessary languages etc.).


This is tutorial for writing an academic report (thesis) on research of a specific topic within the field of the archaeology, history and/or anthropology of Mesoamerica and the Andes. Themes may range from analysis of works of visual culture, religious narratives, concepts and rituals, via social organisation, trade routes and sacred landscapes, to cultural interaction, heritage and identity, indigenous movements etc. Critical evaluation of the existing literature is combined with original investigation of archaeological, historical and/or ethnographic data. This may involve fieldwork or other research abroad in December-February or June-August, either as semi-independent work or in connection with projects of staff or colleagues from local institutions or European/American universities. Such practical research activities must be planned in detail with the thesis supervisor and can only be initiated after written permission.
It is advisable to choose the second specialisation as an additional support for the MA-thesis. An in-depth perspective on the Native American world is particularly relevant – through combining the major with either the archaeology of the Caribbean & Amazonia, or with an indigenous language and literature from Mesoamerica or the Andes (e.g. courses on Maya or Quechua offered by the Leiden University Center of Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities). After obtaining permission from the Commission for the Exams, students may also tailor their programme by choosing other relevant classes from the Faculties of Humanities and/or Social Sciences.

Learning outcomes

  • Ability to choose a research topic for the MA-thesis, find relevant literature, to present a critical review via a PowerPoint presentation and to handle a stimulating discussion afterwards;

  • Reflection on different aspects of research planning and thesis writing;

  • Demonstration of professional capacity in research on a topic of Native American archaeology and/or culture history;

  • Demonstration of professional capacity in connecting empirical data to general theoretical questions.

Mode of delivery

Discussion of various practical aspects of research and writing, as well as of concrete thesis progress. Apart from this formal tutorial, students are expected to take initiative in maintaining regular contact with their coordinator and/or other supervisor(s) and in reporting about their progress.


MA-thesis (for rules and criteria see the faculty webpage), to be submitted to two supervisors (at least one of whom is a faculty staff member). Generally the report is a written thesis, but other forms are possible as well, if proper preparatory courses have been followed, e.g. a documentary film, a computer program or CD-Rom, etc. Definitive discussion and evaluation takes place during the formal thesis defense.

Reading list

Publications selected by the students themselves (library and internet search): both on the relevant cultural data and on the theoretical issues.

Time schedule

Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.