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Thesis seminar North America: North America and Power


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies who have succesfully completed the second year elective course.

The number of participants is limited to 12.


A bachelor’s thesis is the students’ largest and most important piece of work in the program. It is a research paper of substantial size, which to a considerable extent is the result of research and writing that is independently done. Collective supervision is provided in thesis seminars. The aim of the thesis seminar is to guide students through the process of designing a research question; collecting literature, sources, data, and other materials that are necessary for answering the question; bringing logic and persuasive order in the material and in the arguments supported by it; and designing appropriate research methods. In addition, attention is paid to the relevance of the students’ research to a wider academic or non-academic audience.

Northern America, or more exactly the USA, is readily connected with the notion of political and economic power, both nationally and internationally. Besides the obvious topics related to this connection (for instance the shifts in world markets, processes of globalisation, US foreign politics etc), there are many additional ways in which power is exerted, lost, shared or given within North America and in its relations with other parts of the world. Cultural as well as linguistic elements play roles in power distributions, for instance through the notion of soft power, as well as historical relationships and discursive systems of power, connected to knowledge and the monopoly on ‘truth’. The thesis seminar is open to a wide range of interpretations of the theme ‘power’ pertaining to North America, approached through the domains of history, economics, politics and/or culture.

Course objectives

Based, and further elaborating on the knowledge and skills acquired, students will prove themselves to be able to:

  • work with research techniques that are current in the discipline(s) applied by them;
    • comprehend sophisticated academic debates;
    • report on their studies and research in good written English;
    • work and write under time-pressure, and deal with deadlines.
    • report on their studies and research in good spoken English;
    • participate in debates in an active, prepared and informed way, respecting other people’s convictions and emotions;
    • understand fundamental cultural differences and divisions.

The general academic skills covered by these aims are:

  • collect and select specialised literature using traditional and electronic methods and techniques;
    • analyse and evaluate this in terms of quality and reliability;
    • formulate a well-defined research problem based on this;
    • set up, under supervision, a study of limited size, taking into consideration the traditional and electronic methods and techniques relevant for the discipline;
    • formulate a reasoned conclusion on the basis of this;
    • explain research findings in a clear and well-argued way, both orally and in writing.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Eight seminar meetings of two hours, spread over semester.

Course Load

Attendance: 16 hrs.
Collective presentation: 12 hrs.
Individual presentation: 8 hrs.
Literature review: 80 hrs.
Relevance note: 12 hrs.
Total: 140 hrs.

Assessment method

Common presentation: 10 %
Individual presentation 1: 10%
Individual presentation 2: 20%
Literature review, chapter 1: 40%
Relevance note: 20%


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


In addition to the thesis seminars, there will be individual supervision. However, no thesis can be submitted that has not been written in the context of a thesis seminar.


Dr. D.T. Ballantyne, email