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Thesis Seminar International Politics - Spring 2020



Students choose (one of) the thesis seminar(s) offered within their specialisation. 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. Detailed information about the study material and the writing process can be found on Blackboard.

Course Objectives

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

General Introduction Meeting

On Wednesday 4 December 2019, 13:15-15:00 in room SA41 there will be a general introduction meeting 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 Seminar Themes:

Theme 01: Armed Conflict - van der Haer (act. code: 15813)

The purpose of the thesis seminar is to help you write your master thesis. It will provide substantive and methodological instructions so that you can produce a structured and coherent thesis proposal and master thesis.
The seminar focuses on issues broadly related to armed conflict and political violence. Specific issues might include: the role of the UN in protecting civilians during conflict, the effectiveness of the ICC in reducing violence, how fragmented rebel groups influence battle intensity, the recruitment of foreign fighters, the role of private military security cooperations in civil wars, the establishment of DDR programs in order to stabilize peace, the influence of the sanctions in reducing violence, and the role of child soldiers in African wars. The focus of this thesis seminar is very broadly defined to allow students who are interested in conflict and political violence (broadly defined) to benefit from working together on their proposals and theses.

Literature for the project will be announced on Blackboard at the beginning of the semester

Theme 02: International Security: Critical and Visual Approaches - Ragazzi (act. code: 15814)

This Thesis Seminar is also available for NECD students
Preferable admission requirement: Having passed the course “Visual World Politics”
This thesis seminar is part of a NRO/Comenius-funded project on innovative teaching, in collaboration the Netherlands Film Academy. In this thesis seminar, students develop research projects based on visual methods (in particular photography and/or filmmaking, the basis of which are acquired in the course “Visual World Politics”) as a way to collect, and analyse and present data in international politics. Students develop first a research proposal composed of both an intellectual (theory, visual methods, object of analysis) and a feasibility rationale. Students then carry out their individual research project, which has two outputs: a short research film and a research thesis. The two outputs must function in complementarity with one another according to the principles explored in the earlier phase. Students are assessed on three criteria: the quality of the audio-visual collaborative work, the quality of the thesis and the relevance of the complementarity between the two projects. The projects will be showcased as examples in presentations of the pedagogic project in academic and film events.

At the end of the program, students will have acquired, cognitive and non-cognitive skills which contribute to their personal development and professional life: experimenting with rational, sensory and emotional forms of knowledge production, critical media literacy and thinking through concrete creative practice; experience of failure as a condition for innovation and development of collaborative and leadership skills in a professional environment.

Assessment method
Students are assessed on three criteria: the quality of the audio-visual work, the quality of the thesis and the relevance of the complementarity between the two projects.

Literature for the project will be announced on Blackboard at the beginning of the semester

Theme 03: Borders and Migration - Longo (act. code: 14791)

This Thesis Seminar is also available for NECD students
Borders and migration are two of the most hotly contested subjects of the contemporary era. The two concepts are interrelated. The border is the defining institution of the nation-state; migration is challenging the sanctity of those borders (and the states they define). Yet, despite the importance of these two issues, significant questions remain unanswered, particularly regarding variation. Borders are too frequently simplified as lines on a map. In fact, borders vary greatly in form and function: some borders are hard to cross, others are easy; some correspond to natural boundaries others do not; some are militarized (or securitized). The same can be said of migrants: some migrate for political reasons, other economic ones; some have protected status, others do not; some stay in their new destinations, others do so temporarily or are simply passing through. What significance do these axes of variation have, and what do they teach us about contemporary politics? Theses will be encouraged to use a variety of qualitative and interpretive methods – web/archival research, first-hand interviews, participant observation – to articulate how borders and migrants vary and why this matters.

Theme 04: Challenges of European integration - Theuns (act. code: ntb)

This seminar has only 2 places available for IP students
The purpose of the thesis seminar is to accompany students when they write their master thesis. Students develop draft proposals into a full research proposal, which will be the basis of their master thesis. Methodologically, qualitative, interpretative and mixed methods research designs are encouraged and may include ethnography, discourse and narrative analysis, interviews, the history of ideas, the study of ideologies, critical theory, archival and document analysis, argumentation analysis, case studies or grounded theory. Readings will be initially chosen in dialogue with students with a view to their specific interests.

Thematically the focus is on challenges of European integration. The European integration project has been under sustained pressure now for some time. Whether it is rising illiberalism and polarization, the sovereign debt and banking crises, the so-called refugee 'crisis', or the climate emergency, the function and purpose of the EU is increasingly and continually contested. For the first time, it looks like a member state will soon leave the EU, calling into doubt the Federalist vision of an 'ever closer Union'. This thesis seminar is open to analyses of the accomplishments, setbacks and challenges of European integration. With appropriate attention to the institutional, organizational, legal and practical realities of EU politics, students can evaluate and critically engage the EU's performance in crucial areas of competence such as competition, regional policy, agricultural and rural development, migration and freedom of movement, justice cooperation, external policy, enlargement and neighbourhood policy, trade, climate change and the environment.

The Thesis Seminar of NECD is also available for IP students

Please consult the NECD page for more information

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.


Registration in uSis for one thesis seminar is possible from Monday 16 December 10.00h until 22 December 23.59h. Placement is on a first come first served basis and subject to availability.

Registration is open for students that started their Master in one of the Political Science specialisations, in September 2019. 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.