Aim: As the capstone of the Research Master programme, students are expected to write a thesis (15 ECTS) in the format of a research paper that conforms to the requirements and standards of leading political science or public administration journals.
Type of research: The Research Master thesis research should fit within the research programme of the Institutes of Political Science or Public Administration and within the broad focus that characterises these programmes. Students are expected to develop their own research question and theoretical framework and to conduct their own empirical research and analyses.
Procedure: Students are expected to have developed an initial thesis topic before the start of the last semester. At the beginning of block 3, students choose their supervisor and second reader among the faculty members of one of the two institutes (conditional on approval by the Education Director). Under the guidance of their supervisor and while attending the Research Master Thesis Lab (5 ECTS, pass/fail grading), students develop their thesis topic into a thesis proposal. The proposal (10-15 pages) must include a problem statement, the theoretical foundation, conceptualization and operationalization of key variables, and present the methodology and techniques for data collection and analysis. The thesis proposal is presented and defended in a public meeting organized by the Thesis Lab coordinator at the end of the third block. After supervisor and second reader have approved the proposal, students devote their time during block 4 to conduct further research and write their thesis. During this period students will meet regularly with their supervisor. Students are expected to submit their final thesis before the end of June (by a date agreed upon with supervisor and second reader).
Format: The length of the thesis including tables, footnotes and bibliography (but excluding an optional appendix) should not exceed 8.000 to 10.000 words using 12 point Times New Roman font (or equivalent) and double spacing.
The main criteria for the assessment of the thesis are whether it makes an original contribution to and is embedded in the previous research and literature on the topic of the thesis, the justification of the academic and societal relevance of the research, whether it includes a theoretical elaboration of the research problem, and whether it includes an appropriate empirical test of the hypotheses related to the theory or theories under consideration. The final thesis should have a level of sophistication equal to that of an article in an internationally renowned journal.
Final step: After the thesis has been graded and approved by supervisor and second reader and the non-plagiarism and publication statements are signed (by the supervisor on the back side of the thesis evaluation form), students upload their thesis in pdf format to the Leiden Student Repository.