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.
The objective of this course is to critically interrogate the widely held assumption that Africa has been, and continues to be, a passive actor in the international system. We will explore how African state and non-state actors have exerted agency in international relations both in a historical and contemporary context. This seminar is recommended for students who want to do their thesis in the field of International Relations (IR) and who are interested in issues of global governance, IR theory, international organizations, emerging powers and foreign policy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 14 December:
- On 14 December you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
- Indicate there which Thesis Seminar has your preference, and your reasons for this preference.
- Based on preferences indicated by 30 December the Thesis Coordinator will assign you to a specific Thesis Seminar by 20 January.
- Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
- All students are required to enroll for their group in Brightspace 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.
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.
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 Spring semester, students are to submit a research question in week 8; a literature review in week 11; a draft version of the thesis in week 16; and the definitive version in week 22 (May 31st till June 4th, 2021).
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.
Consult the Thesis Seminar Guidelines.