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Thesis and thesis seminar Europe A, sem 2


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.


Building on earlier exercises in essay-writing, in particular the essay for the second year’s elective course, a bachelor’s thesis is the finishing paper of the program. It is a research paper of 10,000 words, 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.

Attending a seminar is mandatory; no thesis can be submitted that has not been written in the context of a thesis seminar.

Apart from collective supervision, students will receive individual supervision, specifically focused on the subject of their research. The thesis seminar leader is also the one who provides this individual supervision. Students will have four individual meetings with their supervisor during the semester.

Each seminar will be devoted to one of the geographical areas covered by International Studies. Most seminar leaders will have expertise on political and economic subjects. For some larger areas, there will also be a limited number of seminars where stronger emphasis is laid on language, history, culture, religion, and society.

The exact set-up of the seminars may vary somewhat, due to the nature of the area, the number of seminars taught for each area, and the didactic preferences of the seminar leader. In particular, a number of seminars will have a theme to lend focus to the class discussions, and provide extra guidance for students to decide on their research topic.

This particular seminar will focus on the culture of Europe. We will discuss the cultural identity of Europe; how does cultural heritage, tangible as well as intangible, tie the region together and what implications does this have for the economic and political interactions in the region? How, if at all, does the cultural identity of Europe differ from that of the EU? Can we really speak of one cultural identity of Europe or is this necessarily a plural concept? And how did the identity of Europe develop over time? These types of questions will be discussed during the seminar and will lead the students to formulate their own research questions.

Identity is a central theme both in our individual lives as well as on regional, national, international and even species levels. We are constantly defining, appraising and adjusting our identities. As such, identity is a dynamic articulation of markers, which can be cultural, historical, economical and political. We identify ourselves for instance by nationality, gender, age, shared history, subculture, political preference, class etc. During this seminar we will focus on the cultural side of identity. Since on the one hand identity is pivotal to our notion of self and on the other hand no domain of life is free from cultural influences, the theme of cultural identity covers a wide span of research topics.

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

Six seminar meetings of two hours, spread over semester; four individual meetings with supervisor (half an hour on average).

Course Load

Attendance: 14 hrs.
Presentation: 8 hrs.
Literature review: 100 hrs.
Independent study and writing: 298
Total: 420 hrs.

Assessment method

Seminar: 25% (5% active participation; 5% research question; 15% literature review).
Thesis: 75%

Note: The maximum possible grade to be obtained for re-submission of the thesis is a 6.0. There is no resit for the other assessments.


Blackboard will be used. Students are required 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.


No thesis can be submitted that has not been written in the context of a thesis seminar.

There are four important due dates during the seminar: in the Spring semester, student are to submit a research question in week 8; a literature review in week 11; a draft version of the thesis in week 16; and the definitive version in week 22.

The due dates are not negotiable.

Since both the number of individual meetings with the supervisor, and their duration is limited, it is important that students go to them well-prepared.


Dr. L.M.F. Bertens, email