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Thesis Info MSc Political Science


MSc Thesis Seminar Procedure 2014

To ensure timely completion of the Master thesis, it is essential for students to follow the steps as described subsequently and as shown in the time table below. Attendance is compulsory in all meetings of the thesis seminar. It is strongly recommended that students start thinking about the topic of their MSc thesis at an early stage.

Working on the research proposal

Students are expected to read the literature for their thesis seminar as announced on Blackboard by the thesis seminar teacher. Students should also individually search for literature and background information concerning their specific research topics. Students must use the assigned literature to start working on their research proposal that will be further developed in the first part of the thesis seminar (block 1). Actual supervision starts in September with the start of the thesis seminar classes (block 1).

Thesis seminar classes

Attendance is compulsory in the thesis seminar classes. Participation in the thesis seminar classes, the assignments for these classes, and the final version of the research proposal constitute the ‘practical part’ of the course and are all mandatory. The final grade for the thesis seminar is based on the grade received for the thesis. It is of utmost importance that students attend all seminar classes and have a thesis proposal of high quality and academic standards finalized during the first part of the thesis seminar (block 1).

Submitting final version of research proposal

The deadline for submitting the final version of the research proposal (through Ephorus and in print) is TBA. An approved proposal is essential for the start of the thesis-writing process. Although students may continue working on their thesis without a formally approved proposal, they are then doing so ‘on their own’ (thesis seminar teachers are no longer obliged to provide supervision). The proposal must be approved by the supervisor and by a second reader. The second reader will be designated by the Director of Studies. Once the supervisor and second reader accept the research proposal (on or before the start of the fourth block), a copy of the proposal, signed by the supervisor and the second reader, is submitted to the Political Science secretariat as part of the student’s file of academic records. If a proposal is not completed in time or not approved, a record on this will be deposited in the student’s file of records.

Working on first complete draft of the Master thesis

After the approval of the research proposal by their supervisor and the second reader, students work on their thesis for about seven weeks. During this phase, students have individual and/or group meetings with their supervisor. A number of meetings and subsequent revisions may be needed before the thesis is considered to meet the required academic standards. The deadline for submitting the first complete draft of the thesis (through Ephorus and in print) is TBA, 12 pm.

Submitting final version of Master thesis

In the days following submission, the thesis seminar teacher will read the first complete draft of the thesis (TBA and TBA feedback and comments on the first complete draft will be given). During this period, students can double-check various aspects of their thesis, such as references, bibliography, data or facts, preparing for last corrections on their work. After the comments of the supervisor have been received, students revise their thesis. The deadline for submitting the final version of the Master thesis (through Ephorus and in print) is TBA, 12 pm. Students submit this final printed version to their supervisor and to their second reader. The supervisor and second reader (both members of the departmental faculty) together decide on the final grade for the thesis. This final grade is communicated to students after 15 working days.

Final meeting with supervisor

Students have a final meeting with their supervisor to discuss the thesis and its assessment. The final grade received is submitted to the Political Science secretariat by the supervisor and is added to the student’s file of academic records. At this last meeting the back hand side of the evaluation form with the non plagiarism and publication statements is filled out. After the last meeting the student uploads his thesis in pdf format in the Leiden Student Repository.


It is extremely important that students follow the deadlines as indicated here (also see the time table below). If the thesis (seminar) is not finalized with a passing grade before the end of June, students will have to retake the complete thesis seminar in the 2nd semester of the next academic year. If the student is unable to complete the master thesis by the deadline due to circumstances beyond his/her control, a suitable solution will be sought by the Exam Committee after consultation with the student.

In exceptional circumstances, students may be allowed by the Exam Committee to complete the thesis seminar in the autumn, provided that they have met all other obligations of the master and the thesis seminar, as demonstrated amongst others by an approved research proposal and the submission of a first complete version of the thesis. Where necessary, the supervision of the master thesis may be continued by someone other than the first supervisor, and the research proposal may have to be adjusted in consultation with the new supervisor.

Time Table MSc Thesis Seminar 2014


Students study literature list (announced on Blackboard) and start working on their research proposal.


Start of thesis seminar classes and actual supervision (block 3).


Deadline Students submit revised and final version of research proposal to the thesis seminar teacher and second reader.


Final version of research proposal approved by thesis seminar teacher and second reader.


Time period devoted to individual work on the thesis, including individual and/or small group meetings.


Deadline Students submit the first complete draft of their Master thesis.


Feedback and comments on first complete draft thesis by supervisor.


Revision of the thesis.


Deadline Students total of two copies of the final version of the Master thesis: one to the supervisor and one to the second reader.


Supervisor and second reader decide on the grade for the thesis, sign the evaluation report and inform the student about this outcome.


Final meeting with supervisor.


  • The MSc Political Science program requires the writing of a thesis (10 ECTS points) as the final product of a thesis seminar, in addition to successful completion of the five courses. In general, the number of words of the thesis must be between 16.000 and 20.000, including tables, footnotes and bibliography.

  • Working on the MSc thesis starts with writing a research proposal. The research proposal must include a problem statement, theoretical foundation, conceptualization and, if applicable, operationalization of key variables, and present the methodology and techniques for data collection and analysis.

  • The MSc thesis needs to comply with high standards of academic research and writing. It is important that the thesis is consistent, clear and original in the sense of constituting an own contribution to ongoing research. In various courses offered in this program, students learn how to conduct research and how to write academic papers. Among the criteria used to evaluate the thesis are its originality, consistency, academic (and, if applicable, societal) relevance, the choice of an adequate theoretical framework, the correct application of analytical methods, the quality of the data collection, and the presentation of the text.