nl en

MA Thesis Global Order in Historical Perspective


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations, track Global Order in Historical Perspective, and completion of the course Thesis Seminar and Methods in International Relations Research.


A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with a supervisor. The thesis must show that the student is capable of analyzing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting independent research. Moreover, this process must be recorded in an academically sound report.

Generally speaking, students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, based on a Master’s course that they followed. In most cases, the first supervisor of the thesis will be the lecturer responsible for the Master’s course which inspired the thesis. In case of doubt, students can always consult other supervisors within the Humanities Faculty.

During the first semester, students will complete the 5 EC course Thesis Seminar and Methods in International Relations Research in which they will choose a topic for their thesis, formulate a research question, and submit a research proposal and literature review. Students who have not fulfilled the requirements of this course or have not received the approval of the Examinations Committee will not have their MA thesis supervised.

Course objectives

The thesis for the MA International Relations is a maximum of 15.000 words. The word count is including notes, bibliography and appendices (corresponding to OER art.2). The thesis is supervised by a lecturer in the Humanities Faculty, who possesses expertise in the relevant field. The thesis is judged by two lecturers involved in the program.

Thesis supervision

The following list provides an indication of some of the available thesis supervisors in the MAIR programme. The decision regarding the supervisor is determined within each specialization and subject to the approval of the Board of Examiners. Students may not be able to work with their preferred supervisor and may be assigned a supervisor who is not currently listed here.

Prof. Alanna O’Malleyis a historian focusing on the United Nations, decolonization, Congo and the Cold War. She welcomes supervision of theses on the UN, the Global South, international organizations, decolonization and peacekeeping.

Prof. Giles Scott-Smith welcomes students who want to work on one of the following fields of research for their thesis: Transatlantic relations, Public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, and international cultural relations, Intelligence history and Cold War history.

Dr. Max Bader has a research and supervision interest in issue pertaining to Russia and Eurasia.

Dr. Andrew Gawthorpe can supervise theses on contemporary and historical aspects of U.S. foreign and defence policy, and on historical or contemporary military intervention and nation-building practices.

Dr. Vineet Thakur is interested in the politics of knowledge production from the perspectives of the Global South, and diplomatic histories (with focus on South Asia and Southern Africa). He is happy to supervise students on these themes.

Dr. Karen Smith is interested in supervising theses on a number of topics including, but not limited to, Decentering International Relations / non-western approaches and contributions to International Relations, Global South agency (historical and contemporary) in shaping and challenging the global order; The emerging powers/BRICS in global governance, How global norms are created, shaped, internalised, and contested (e.g. women’s rights, LGBTI rights, responsibility to protect, etc).

Dr. Gjovalin Macaj is eager to supervise dissertations that explore any aspect of the role of norms in creating, maintaining and challenging order at the global level. This includes theoretical studies of elements of order as well as empirical investigations of practices that seek to sustain or upend specific visions of order.

Prof. Andre Gerrits supervises all International Relations theses that show initiative, imagination and motivation.

Dr. Diana M. Natermann is interested in supervising theses in the areas of: (Post)Colonialism and its Aftermath, Africa and Europe in the Twenty-first Century, the long-term effects of colonial rule(s) on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in Africa and Europe, but also in other areas of the globe where applicable.

Dr. Matthew Frear can supervise theses on the following broad topics: 1) Russia in global affairs; 2) regional integration in Eurasia; 3) the authoritarian politics and external relations of non-democratic regimes. His specialisation includes Belarusian and Ukrainian foreign and security policy specifically.


As of 2019/20, thesis submission is limited to two deadlines per academic year. Students of the February ’19 intake can submit the thesis before Friday January 3 2020 in order to graduate in January 2020. If this deadline is not met, the next opportunity for submitting the thesis will be before Friday July 3 2020.

Mode of instruction

Not applicable.

Assessment method

The thesis for the MA International Relations is a maximum of 15.000 words (no 10% margin) including notes, excluding bibliography and appendices. The thesis is supervised by a lecturer in the Humanities Faculty, who possesses expertise in the relevant field. The thesis is judged by two lecturers involved in the program.

In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:

  • Formulating and analyzing the research question;

  • Structure of the thesis;

  • Integration of primary and secondary literature into the argument;

  • Argumentation skills;

  • Style, use of language and lay-out;

  • Independent and original research

Also see the regulations concerning the procedure surrounding the master’s thesis.


Students are required to submit their completed thesis as a word document via Blackboard.

Reading list

Students who need help finding suitable literature for starting the thesis can make a one-on-one appointment with the subject librarian. Students can also consult the subject guides, created by the subject librarians, which give an overview of resources on each specific field of study.


Via uSis.


The co-ordinator of studies or your thesis supervisor.