Aim of the Master’s Thesis
A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with two supervisors. The thesis must show that the student is capable of analysing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting independent research. Moreover, this process must be recorded in an academically sound report.
Choosing a Topic / Thesis Seminar
Generally speaking, students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, based on a Master’s course that they followed. In most cases, the first supervisor of the thesis will be the lecturer responsible for the Master’s course which inspired the thesis. In case of doubt, students can always consult other supervisors within the Department.
In order to get started on time, a thesis seminar will be organized. This seminar is an integral part of the 20 EC MA thesis requirements of Russian Studies. It serves as a preparation and a first phase for developing and writing the thesis. Students are required to select a topic for their thesis, assessed by their supervisor, and to prepare a research document, which contains of a research question or hypothesis, a bibliographical essay (approximately 4-5 pages, depending on the topic), a brief theoretical and / or empirical introduction to the thesis topic or research design / outline (approximately 2,000 words), and a provisional table of content. This document will be presented in class and discussed with supervisor(s) and fellow-students. It will serve as the introductory chapter(s) and the bibliography of the thesis.
The seminar consists of three meetings:
Russian Studies staff will briefly introduce and discuss their research interests and specializations, for students to orient themselves in the field of Russian and Slavic Studies and to consider possible thesis topics and supervisors. Students who missed the third session of the second semester seminar will present their thesis topic (presentations ma. 10 minutes each).
Thesis research: progress and problems
Students discuss progress and (potential) problems concerning the preparation of their research document.
Presentation research proposal
Students present and discuss their (final) research proposal with fellow-students and staff.
Student presence and participation is obligatory for all MA students. Students who have not fulfilled the requirements of this preparatory seminar will not have their MA theses supervised. Students are encouraged to select and approach their (potential) supervisors at any time during the course of this seminar. Preferably, students have a supervisor before the session in November.
Students should approach the relevant lecturer and discuss with him/her the chosen topic and potential research question. The supervisor, also known as ‘first reader’, will undoubtedly be able to point to relevant secondary literature.
At the heart of a Master’s thesis lies a research question, together with the answer to that question. Before a research question can be formulated, the student first has to do some preparatory reading. Formulating the research question is one of the most important components of research because this question forms the basis for all further activities.
The thesis for the Russian and Eurasian Studies MA programme as a rule contains a maximum of 20.000 words including notes, bibliography and appendices. The thesis is supervised by a lecturer attached to the Department of Russian Studies, who possesses expertise in the relevant field. The thesis is judged by two lecturers involved in the program.
The thesis has to be written in either Dutch or English. Another language might be possible only after approval of the Board of Examiners.
In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:
Formulating and analysing the research question;
Structure of the thesis;
Integration of secondary (Russian) literature into the argument;
Good argumentation of student’s own arguments;
Style, use of language and lay-out;
The student’s independency
Student is able to formulate and analyse a research question.
Once the entire thesis is completed, the student should hand in two copies; one to each reader. Their comments must be integrated into the final version. A hard copy and a digital version should be sent to the secretary
The thesis will be graded within four weeks. Between 1 June and 31 August it can take six weeks at the most. The first reader then contacts the student and makes an appointment for the defence date, when the supervisors will grade the thesis. In case this is the last programme item, this date will appear on the student’s diploma.