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Thesis Seminar MSc Political Science



Objective: 1. To deepen the understanding of theories and methods related to research on a specific subfield of Political Science.
Objective: 2. Applying them to a specific topic as part of the student’s master thesis project.

Content: Students apply theoretical and methodological knowledge and skills to a theme related to conflict and cooperation. The thesis seminar Political Science is open to students writing their theses on topics from all subfields of Political Science, preferably but not limited to the subfields of international relations, political behavior and political theory. It is strongly recommended that students start thinking about the topic of their thesis before the start of the classes. Attendance is compulsory for all classes of the thesis seminar.

General Introduction Meeting

On Tuesday 1 December 2015 between 14.00-15.00 hrs in SB45 the instructors will explain and discuss the general thesis seminar procedures and expectations and students can ask questions about the thesis seminars.

Thesis Seminars

1 Dutch Political Institutions: origin, functioning, and legitimacy – Koole ( 6927)
This thesis seminar departs from the perennial question: what gives rulers the right to rule? From this perspective of political legitimacy Dutch political institutions will be analyzed. How were institutions legitimized when they were founded? How do they function today? Did developments in the period between the founding of institutes and today (like the Europeanisation of the national state) alter the way they are legitimized today? The thesis seminar takes historical institutionalism as the general approach to tackle these questions. The study of (historical) Dutch political texts, especially parliamentary proceedings, is essential for answering these questions. Therefore, students must also be able to read Dutch.
The broad theme of the seminar allows students to concentrate their own research on one or more institutions, varying from formal organizations of the Dutch state (such as parliament, the government, the judiciary, the Council of State, the Central Bank) to other institutions (such as political parties, the poldermodel, independent agencies, the electoral system, the decentralized unitary state), as long as the research focusses on their origin, present-day-functioning and legitimization.
In the first part of the seminar, students will familiarize themselves with theories and concepts of political legitimacy as well as with a general overview of Dutch political institutions, in order to be able to draft a research proposal. After the approval of the proposal, students will be supervised individually while they write their thesis.

2 Parties, Elections and Democracy – Spirova (act. nr 6928)
The seminar of Maria Spirova focuses on issues broadly related to political parties and elections and their role in contemporary democracy. Specific issues might include: parties as representative agents, elections as platforms of competition, electoral reform, the representation of social and ethnic groups, and parties and corruption/clientelism. The focus of the seminar is broadly defined to allow students who are interested in political institutions to benefit from working together on their projects.

3 Justice in a Globalized World – Verschoor (act. nr 8998)
“The world truly shares a common fate.” These words are frequently cited from the UN Millennium Project Report 2005. What makes our world one of “overlapping communities of fate” are the shared problems and challenges we face in our globalizing age. During the last fifty years we witnessed an enormous increase in transboundary problems – climate change, the financial crisis, migration, secession, terrorism, infectious diseases, violent conflicts, etc. This process of globalization raises the question as to how we can shape our common fate in a just way. The thesis seminar focuses on this problem of justice in a globalized world. Specific issues might include: What responsibilities do we have to the global poor? Are the current global economic arrangements fair and if not, how should they be transformed? Do states have the right unilaterally to control their borders? Or should wealthy developed countries open their borders more generously than they currently do to migrants from poor developing countries? Is morality silent during wartime? Or is the art of war still subject to certain moral constraints? Under what conditions should claims to national self-determination be granted substantial weight? Are commitments to nationalism and global justice compatible? Can global justice be realized in a world of states or does it require a world state? Students are advised to pick this seminar only if they have a background in philosophy or political theory.

N.B. : the Thesis Seminar of International Organisations: Critical Approaches in International Relations – Ragazzi (act. nr 6932) is available for a maximum of 5 Political Science students. If you are interested in this seminar please send an email to the study advisor mrs. Anika Duut van Goor:


Registration in uSis for one thesis seminar is possible from Wednesday 9 December 2015 10.00 hrs until Wednesday 16 December 2015 10.00 hrs. Placement is on a first come first served basis and subject to availability. If more than 15 students prefer to be in a thesis seminar students will be placed on a waiting list.
Registration is open for students that started their Master in Political Science in September. All other students should contact the exam committee to request permission to take this thesis seminar. Students can take the thesis seminar only once in their academic year.


Research Proposal
The research proposal includes a problem statement, theoretical foundation, conceptualization as well as a sound explanation of the methods and techniques for data collection and analysis.The proposal must be approved by the supervisor and a second reader. The second reader will be designated by the Director of Studies. Please note that teachers are not obliged to provide thesis supervision if the proposal is not approved.

Master Thesis
The MSc thesis needs to comply with high standards of academic research. The thesis must be between 8.000 and 10.000 words, including tables, footnotes and bibliography. The thesis evaluation form with the evaluation criteria will be published on Blackboard.

Students that drop or fail the course have to retake the complete thesis seminar (in the 2nd semester of the next academic year). Students should contact the Exam Committee if they are unable to complete the master thesis by the deadline due to circumstances beyond their control.


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