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Thesis Seminar MSc Political Science Spring 2017



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 Political Science topics, 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 Thursday 1 December 2016 there will be a general introduction meeting from 11.00-13.00 hrs in 1A01, in which 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 – Waling ( 8539)
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 Political Philosophy – Vrousalis (act. 8540)
This seminar gives students the opportunity to write a thesis in political philosophy. The seminar has no thematic restrictions, as long as the method falls within the purview of contemporary analytic philosophy. In previous years, students have chosen to write on the moral justification of euthanasia, the nature of borders, the permissibility of abortion, the measurement of global inequality, the feminist critique of pornography, the nature of toleration, the power critique of pluralism, among other things.
NB. This course has a prerequisite.

Preliminary Reading

Arneson, R. (2013), ‘Egalitarianism’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Berlin, I. (2002), Liberty, Oxford.
Callinicos, A. (2000), Equality, Polity.
Cohen, G.A. (2011), On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice, Princeton.
Dworkin, R. (2000), Sovereign Virtue, Harvard.
Kymlicka, W. (2002), Contemporary Political Philosophy, Oxford.
Lukes, S. (2005). Power: A Radical View. Palgrave.
Miller, D. (2006), The Liberty Reader, Edinburgh.
Miller, D. (2007), National Responsibility and Global Justice. Oxford.
Miller, R. (2010), Globalizing Justice. Oxford.
Okin, S.M. (1989), Justice, Gender and the Family, Basic books.
Piketty, T. (2014), Capital in the 21st Century. Harvard.
Rawls, J. (1971), A Theory of Justice, Harvard.
Sen, A. (1979), Inequality Reexamined, Oxford.
Swift, A. (2006), Political Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide, Polity.
Temkin, L. (1993), Inequality, Oxford.

Admission requirements

Students must have passed an advanced undergraduate (3rd year or above) or Master’s level course in political philosophy.

N.B. : the Thesis Seminar of International Organisations: Radicalisation and Terrorism – Ragazzi (act. 5076) is available for a maximum of 5 Political Science students. If you are interested in this seminar please send an email after the first meeting (1 December) but before 5 December, 1.00pm, to:

Additional Information

Please note that for some seminars there will be no additional substantive readings than the ones discussed in the courses they build on. For example, for the seminar on Radicalisation and Terrorism, it is assumed that you have followed the course “Preventing Terrorism in Multicultural Europe” or made all the readings relevant to the course. The seminar will focus on research design and methodology.


Registration in uSis for one thesis seminar is possible from 6 December 2016 10.00 hrs until 13 December 2016 10.00 hrs. Placement is on a first come first served basis and subject to availability. If more than 12 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.


See TS Info page