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Thesis and Thesis Seminar Middle East A, sem 1


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies who have successfully completed a Thematic Seminar course, or the second or third year elective course and who have passed courses of the first two years of the International Studies programme worth a total of 100 EC.

The student writes the thesis in the area of specialisation.


This seminar focuses on artistic expressions as a medium for tracing social, political, and cultural shifts in the Arab world. The seminar explores the roles of the arts in shaping societies, the interplays between the modern and the traditional, and the cultural interactions within the Arab world and with other areas around the world.

Building on earlier exercises in essay-writing, in particular the essay for the second year’s Thematic Seminar course, a bachelor’s thesis is the finishing paper of the programme. It is a research paper of 10,000 words (± 10%, excluding bibliography and notes), 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.

Assignments within the seminar include designing a research question and plan, as well as writing a literature review (3-4,000 words).

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, and will focus on a broad theme relevant to the programme.

The exact set-up of the seminars may vary somewhat, due to the nature of the area, and the teaching approach of the seminar leader. The theme of a seminar lends focus to the class discussions, and provide extra guidance for students to decide on their research topic.

Course objectives

Based on the knowledge and skills acquired, students will 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;

  • 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 specialized literature using traditional and electronic methods and techniques;

  • analyze 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 writing, in a clear and well-argued way.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Six seminar class meetings of two hours, spread over the semester; four individual meetings with supervisor (30 min. on average).


Attending a seminar is mandatory; no thesis can be submitted that has not been written in the context of a thesis seminar. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your lecturer in advance. If you are absent at two or more class meetings or more than one individual meeting, the lecturer may have you disenrolled from the seminar.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 15 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), which equals 420 hours, broken down by:

  • Active participation in class: 14 hours

  • Research question and plan: 21 hours

  • Literature review: 70 hours

  • Thesis: 315 hours

Assessment method


Submission of the following assignments is prerequisite for submitting your thesis:

  • Research question and research plan (1200-1500 words);

  • Literature review (3000-4000 words);

  • Draft version of the Thesis.

End Grade

The grade for the thesis seminar is determined by the thesis grade.
To successfully complete this course, the grade for the thesis needs to be a 6.0 or higher.


Students who score an insufficient grade for the thesis (below 6.0) are allowed to resubmit a reworked version of their thesis. The deadline for resubmission of the thesis is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the thesis and subsequent feedback.
In case of resubmission of the thesis the grade will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.

Students who fail to hand in their thesis on or before the original deadline, but still within 5 working days of that deadline, will receive a grade and feedback on their thesis. This will be considered a first submission of the thesis, however, the grade will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their thesis on or before the original deadline, and also fail to hand in their thesis within 5 working days of that deadline, get 10 working days, counting from the original deadline, to hand in a first version of their thesis. However, this first version will count as a resubmitted thesis with consequential lowering of the grade, and there will be no option of handing in a reworked version based on feedback from the supervisor.


Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

Not applicable.


Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 1 July:

1) On 15 July you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
2) Indicate there which Thesis Seminar has your preference, and your reasons for this preference.
3) Based on preferences indicated by 29 July the Thesis Coordinator will assign you to a specific Thesis Seminar by 23 August.
4) Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
5) All students are required to enroll for their group in Blackboard to access all course information.

Students cannot register in uSis for the Thesis Seminar, or be allowed into a Thesis Seminar in any other way.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number, and tutorial group number.
Please use your University email-address (uMail) when communicating with any person or department within Leiden University.

Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies


  • 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 Fall semester, student are to submit a research question in week 40; a literature review in week 43; a draft version of the thesis in week 48; and the definitive version in week 2 of January, 2020.

  • 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.