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MA Thesis Russian and Eurasian Studies


Aim of the Master’s Thesis

A thesis is an extended piece of academic research, written by the student in consultation with a supervisor who possesses expertise in the relevant field. The thesis demonstrates the student’s capability of analysing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting their own independent research using primary sources/empirical data as appropriate for their chosen discipline. Moreover, this process must be recorded in an academically sound essay.

Choosing a Topic / Thesis Seminar

In most cases, the supervisor of the thesis will be the lecturer responsible for the Master’s course which is most relevant to the topic of the thesis. The supervisor can be a lecturer attached to the Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies, or another member of staff with the right expertise. Most students will take three courses during their first semester, allowing more time to focus on writing their MA thesis in the second semester. The supervisor provides individual supervision beyond the thesis seminars.
At the heart of a Master’s thesis lies the research question. Before it can be formulated, the student has to do some preparatory reading, often building on topics covered on one of their Master’s courses. Formulating the research question is one of the most important components of research as it forms the basis for all further activities. Students should approach the relevant lecturer and discuss with him/her the chosen topic and potential research question by the end of the first semester or beginning of the second semester.
The thesis seminar is an integral part of the 20 EC MA thesis requirements for Russian and Eurasian Studies. At the beginning of your first semester (either in September or February, depending on your state date) staff will briefly introduce and discuss their research interests and specializations, for students to orient themselves in the field of Russian and Eurasian Studies and to consider possible thesis topics and supervisors.
This will then be followed in the second semester by two or three thesis seminar meetings as required, organized by discipline, with students having already selected and approached a potential supervisor. Students present and discuss their research proposals and/or thesis outlines with fellow students and staff, learning from their peers and sharing ideas about solving problems.

Test method

A thesis for the Russian and Eurasian Studies MA programme contains 20.000 words with a 10% margin above or below, including notes, bibliography and appendices. The thesis is marked by two lecturers involved in the program. There is no oral defence required for the final assessment.


A thesis for the Russian and Eurasian Studies MA programme contains 20.000 words with a 10% margin above or below, including notes and bibliography. The thesis is marked by two lecturers. There is no oral defence required for the final assessment.
In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:

  • Formulation and analysis of the research question;

  • Structure of the thesis;

  • Integration of secondary literature into the argument;

  • Originality and creativity of research;

  • Good argumentation of student’s answer to the research question;

  • Style, use of language, and lay-out;

  • Student’s ability to work independently.

Course Objectives

Student is able to formulate and analyse a research question. They can conduct research using appropriate primary and secondary sources.


Once the entire thesis is completed, an digital copy should be submitted online via Turnitin and the student should hand in two hard copies to their supervisor, who will pass one copy on to the second reader.

The thesis will be graded within four weeks by the two markers. Between 1 June and 31 August it can take up to six weeks. To guarantee that the marking of a thesis can be completed in time to permit graduation after one academic year, it should be submitted by 1 July for students who start their MA in September, and 1 December for students who start their MA in February. It cannot be guaranteed that any thesis submitted after that date can be marked in time and final graduation may have to take place in the following academic year.
After the marking of the thesis, the student will need to upload a digital copy of the final and graded version of his/her MA-thesis to the Leiden University Repository. Please note that the repository accepts only one upload per student. Consequent revised versions will therefore not be accepted.

More information and manual in Dutch

More information and manual in English