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Bachelor Project International Relations and Organisations 2020-2021


Admission Requirements

Participation in the Bachelor's Project is only permitted if the propaedeutic phase has been passed and at least 40 EC of the second year have been obtained, including the course Research Methods in Political Science. The successful completion of the Academic Skills course: Research Design is also an entry requirement for the Bachelor Project.

Bachelor Project Information Meetings The Hague

Semester I: The information on the Bachelor Projects for semester I, will be shared with you digitally in May.
Semester II: The information on the Bachelor Projects of semester II, will be shared with you digitally in November.

Enrollment Bachelor Project

Semester I: The information on the Bachelor Projects for semester I 2020-2021, will be shared with you digitally in May 2020.
Semester II: The information on the Bachelor Projects of semester II 2020-2021, will be shared with you digitally in November 2020.

Although we do our utmost to consider the preferences of all students, it can happen that you will not be placed in your preferred Project.


The thesis for the Bachelor Project IRO will be written in English.


Goal 1: Learning to apply concepts, theories and methods in a research project that fits within a framework that has been formulated by the teacher in advance;
Goal 2: Conducting, and reporting on, a limited empirical or literature study.
Content: The bachelor project is a course that offers substantive instruction, followed by a research part within which students carry out an individual study. Various projects are offered that are structured around different themes. Students first follow substantive instruction for a number of weeks in which they deepen their knowledge of a specific subject within a subfield of political science. After that, students learn to formulate a research question, to design research to answer that question, to conduct their own research, and to report correctly and clearly on that research.
The final report - the Bachelor's thesis - completes the Bachelor's degree in Political Science. The thesis is an individual final paper based on at least partly the student’s own, original research.

Mode of Instruction

Workgroup meetings, walk-in meetings, library instruction, and above all self-study.

Library Instruction

On Brightspace you will find more information on the digital module 'Library instruction'.

Study materials

Halperin, S. & Heath, O. (2017). Political research: Methods and practical skills. Oxford: Oxford University Press. is assumed to be known. The core literature can be found on the Brightspace page of the Bachelor's Project. Further information about the bachelor project and the subprojects will also be available there.
The core literature can be found in the syllabus of each bachelor project.

Assessment Method

Students either pass or fail the entire BAP (16 weeks) worth 20 ECTS. In addition, students need to pass both parts of the BAP in order to receive the ECTS.

  • The assignments made in the first, substantive part of the BAP (week 1-6) will jointly generate a first partial grade. This grade counts for 40% of the final BAP grade. It is rounded to one decimal and passed with a 5,5 or higher.

  • The full thesis written in the second, thesis-specific part of the BAP (week 7-16) will generate a second partial grade. This counts for 60% of the final BAP grade. It is rounded to whole and half numbers and passed with a 6 or higher.

Final product:

The thesis. It should be between 7,000-8,000 words. Note that this is the actual required length of the thesis and not 7,000-8,000 plus/minus 10%. Regarding the word count: Everything from introduction to conclusion counts (as picked up by the count in MS Word). The following elements do not count: front page, abstract, table of contents and list of references. Concerning the abstract and table of contents: these are optional.


BAP semester 1: Friday December 18, 2020, 17:00 hrs.
BAP semester 2: Friday May 21, 2021, 17:00 hrs.

Students who get an insufficient grade for their bachelor thesis – and so fail the entire BAP – have the right to improve their thesis and submit it for a second time. They do so on the basis of the feedback given by the supervisor during a feedback meeting. Note, however, that students are not entitled to any further supervision. The submission deadlines for the second chance are:
BAP semester 1: Monday February 8, 2021, 17:00 hrs.
BAP semester 2: Tuesday July 6, 2021, 17:00 hrs.

There are two important caveats to this:

  • Students do not have the right to submit their thesis for a second time if their first attempt resulted in a sufficient grade.

  • Students do not have the right to submit their thesis as part of the second chance if they did not submit a completed version of their thesis during the first chance (See Rules and Regulations of Board of Examiners, art. 4.8.2).

Leiden thesis repository

Approved theses are stored in the Student Repository of the Leiden Repository after completion of the Bachelor Project. Students will have to sign a statement for this. Read more

Bachelor Project themes:

Semester I

01: Justice in a Globalised World - Verschoor
The idea of justice occupies a central place both in our daily lives and in political philosophy. We apply it to actions of individuals and groups as well as to laws and public policies. When confronted with unjust actions, laws or policies, we take this to be a strong reason to reject them. Generally speaking, a situation can be called “just” if everyone involved in it has received “their due”. This means that the study of justice is essentially concerned with the following normative question: What do we owe to each other?

For a long time, political philosophers considered it to be their “core business” to develop plausible principles of justice. As such, they focused primarily on the question “What is owed?” and ignored the (equally important) question “Who belong to the group of individuals who owe justice to each other?”. In fact, they simply took it for granted that the notion of justice – stipulating what is owed – applies to the domestic sphere only. If justice requires that individuals be treated as equals in some respect (for instance, by according them equal welfare, opportunities, resources, or capabilities), then surely, many assumed uncritically, the scope of this requirement is limited to the domestic context. According to this statist view, justice is something that co-nationals, i.e. citizens belonging to the same state, owe to each other. It is, however, not something that co-nationals owe to foreigners.

Recently, however, political philosophers have started to wonder whether the notion of justice could – or, to put it more strongly, should – also be invoked at the international, and perhaps even global, level. They raise this question because they have come to realise that the assumption of the statist view – the idea of a world divided into independent states – is a fantasy. Even if there ever existed a world of independent states, then, or so they claim, it certainly no longer exists nowadays. Instead, we live in an age of globalisation; an age in which states and individuals are becoming increasingly more interdependent. As (former and the late) UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said: “The world truly shares a common fate.” What makes our world one of “overlapping communities of fate” are the shared problems and challenges we face in our globalising age. During the last fifty years we witnessed an enormous increase in transboundary problems, such as climate change, economic crises, immigration flows, epidemics, terrorism, and other violent political conflicts. Indeed, as Kant in his Perpetual Peace already noticed, “the peoples of the earth have thus entered in varying degrees into a universal community, and it has developed to the point where a violation of rights in one part of the world is felt everywhere.”

These observations have led many political philosophers to reject the statist view of justice and instead embrace a cosmopolitan view. Given that human beings affect each other’s lives on an unprecedented scale, it makes no sense to limit the scope of justice to the domestic sphere of a set of independent states. Instead, principles of justice ought to be applied globally. Others, however, think that the effects of globalisation are exaggerated or otherwise morally insignificant and therefore do not change the scope of justice. Consequently, they remain committed to their statist view.

In this bachelorproject students explore the relationship between globalisation and the scope of justice. In the first phase of the project, students analyse the main statist and cosmopolitan views as well as various aspects of the academic debate on the scope of justice in a globalised world. In the second phase, students develop a philosophical perspective connected to one of the aspects of the academic debate on justice in a globalised world as discussed in the first phase of the project.

02: Strategy and Warfare: Historical and Contemporary Challenges - van Willigen
Strategy is often described as being essentially about linking ends, ways and means in such a way that you are able to win a war. That sounds very easy and straightforward, but it is not. The famous strategist Carl von Clausewitz aptly stated that ‘Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult’. And as you will discover; he was right. In this bachelor project we focus on the subfield of strategic studies, which is aimed at understanding and explaining the use of force in world politics. In the first block you are introduced to the main concepts, theories and debates in the field of strategic studies. The course will address the history of strategic thought and, furthermore, elaborates on the causes and conduct of war and the frameworks and theories that have been developed to understand and explain it. Expect the first block to read a lot of literature and to think about, reflect upon and write about this literature. Based on the substantive readings in the first block, you are expected to develop your own research question related to the theme of this bachelor project. Subsequently you are expected to write an individual bachelor thesis by finding, reading and reviewing relevant literature, developing a research design, and by collecting and analyzing sources and/or data while following a sound methodology. The seminar is open to a variety of research methods, although there will be a focus on qualitative research methods and designs.


  • Baylis, J., Wirtz, J.J., and Gray, C.S. (2019, 6th edition) Strategy in the Contemporary World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Thomas Mahnken and Joseph Maiolo (eds.) Strategic Studies; A Reader (London: Routledge 2014).

  • Howard, M. (2002). Clausewitz. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

03: Political Behaviour: Can we trust Democracy to the Voters? The Origins of Public Preferences and Citizen Competence - Robison
Why do democracies succeed or fail? One important answer is that the qualities of citizens—their values, attitudes, and “customs”—are crucial for the maintenance and success of a democracy. But, what qualities are required of democratic publics? Do democratic publics “pass the test”? And, does it matter if they don’t?
Students in this Bachelor Project explore the nature of public attitudes to understand fundamental questions about democratic politics. In the first phase of the project, students will learn how political scientists have attempted to answer these questions. We will pay attention to three crucial topics:

  • Information and Preferences: what type of knowledge do democratic publics require?; can people make good decisions even if ignorant of political facts; how worried should we be about “fake news” and misinformation?

  • Democratic Values and Norms: who adopts democratic values such as support for civil liberties and political tolerance?; when and why do people violate democratic norms and can they be persuaded not to?; and, do we need the public to internalize democratic norms or can we rely on elites as “carriers of the [democratic] creed”?

  • Trust: what types of trust are necessary in democracy?; is rising distrust problematic for democratic governance or a necessary component of democracy?; where does trust come from and can trust levels (between citizens, between citizens and their governments or other institutions) be bolstered?

The first phase of the project will introduce you to core theories and evidence regarding public attitudes and preferences. Students in the second phase of the project will use this information as a bedrock for developing their own explanatory research question focused on public attitudes using quantitative methods (e.g. analysis of existing social surveys). Students in a previous version of this BA Project developed projects on a diverse array of specific questions including the relevance of personal values for issue preferences, and pro-democracy attitudes, in China and Hong Kong; the predictors of partisan animosity in Finland; why some people think economic inequality is a societal problem using cross-national survey evidence; and the influence of messages from parties and interest groups on public attitudes in the United States.

04: Agenda setting and policy-making in the European Union - Elias Carillo
The European Union (EU) is a complex political system. Its setup includes 27 members states with different interests and ideas on what issues to attend and how to do so. The roles of its political institutions are not clearly separated and many are shared. How are then policies created in the EU? In this course we will study the policy-making process in this system and more specifically agenda setting. Some of the questions that we will address are: how does the EU deal with policy problems? Who participates? How do issues arrive on the agenda? Why do EU policy makers devote attention to some issues and ignore others? Can the EU deal with all sorts of problems to begin with? We will discuss relevant analytical approaches to better understand the European Union. We will examine general characteristics of policy making and then focus on agenda setting. We will study theoretical perspectives, concepts and classic literature on the topic. We will identify main features of this policy stage, such as key actors and driving factors. We will also examine empirical work on agenda setting dynamics in diverse policy domains. All in all, in the first part of the course we will learn how the EU determines its priorities, by studying ‘what’ (issues come on the agenda), ‘how’ (issues enter it), ‘who’ (takes them up) and why. In the second part, you will write an individual thesis related to a theme on agenda setting within the scope of the general framework studied in the previous part. You are free to select any policy domain(s) to conduct your empirical analysis. Research methods can be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed. Note that you must come prepared to the first session, by reading the following literature: - Lelieveldt, H. and Princen, S. (2015), The politics of the European Union, 2nd Ed, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 1: The historical development of the EU - Cini, M. and Pérez-Solórzano Borragán (2019), Introduction, in Cini, M. and Pérez-Solórzano Borragán (eds), European Union Politics, 6th Ed, Oxford: Oxford University Press. You can consult other book editions than those indicated here, if the title of the chapter is the same. The books are available in the library of the university. In case you do not manage to have access to the literature, contact me in advance before the course starts. And of course you can also contact me if you have questions on the bachelor project

10: The Politics of Authoritarian Regimes - Koehler
The global advancement of democracy notwithstanding, about 40 percent of countries around the world remain dominated by non-democratic regimes. Recent discussions on democratic backsliding, moreover, suggest that non-democratic forms of political rule might become more, rather than less prominent in the years to come. Some even see the contrast between democracy and authoritarianism as a structuring feature of the contemporary international system.
What do we know about the politics of authoritarian rule? Why are some countries autocratic and others not? What determines the durability of autocracy? What can we say about transitions from or to authoritarian rule? Why do different autocracies rely on different institutional configurations? What role do processes and institutions such as elections, ruling and opposition parties, social movements and protest groups play under non-democratic conditions? These are some of the questions we will discuss in this BAP.
Geographically speaking, authoritarian and hybrid regimes tend to cluster in less developed areas of the world, sometimes (rather imprecisely) referred to as the Global South. While my own research focuses on the Middle East and North Africa, the BAP will draw on cases from different world regions, as well as on available large-N studies. The substantive part will also include and introduction to different datasets which are routinely used by scholars of autocratic regimes. Participants are encouraged to develop their own thesis projects in relation to the topics covered in the course, drawing on either small-N comparative or quantitative methods.
Thematically, the BA project focuses broadly on the dynamics of non-democratic political rule, including hybrid regimes and closed autocracies. The substantive part in Block 1 addresses core conceptual and empirical debates around the politics of non-democratic rule. We will rely on Democracies & Authoritarian Regimes by Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Natasha Lindstaedt and Erica Frantz (Oxford UP, 2019) as the main text, supplemented by more specific readings as appropriate. Specific topics include autocratic and hybrid regimes and regime typologies, the consequences of non-democratic rule, the dynamics of autocratic durability, regime change from and to autocracy, as well as democratic backsliding.

20: International Collective Action; its Problems and Solutions - Hagen
When a certain issue affects people across borders solely a national solution is oft ineffective or inefficient. Climate change, armed conflict or COVID-19 are examples whereby actors across the globe have to come together to find solutions. The ‘international community’ does, however, not consist of uniform countries or organizations. Each has its own preferences and capabilities, which makes it difficult to achieve cooperation. Why would a country invest in costly climate change measures when large polluters do almost nothing to limit their emissions?

International collective action is hard to achieve and can easily break down. Why this occurs is a central theme in Global Public Goods and Global Commons literature. Both of these schools have different explanations and thus find different solution to achieve collective action. Can collective action only work when it is carried by (local) participants, or is a higher authority needed to implement viable solutions? The answer to these questions are oft influenced by political considerations.

In this Bachelor Project you will each focus on an individual topic or problem whereby collective action on an international level plays, or can play, an important role. You will use either a public goods or commons framework to understand the issue. In your empirical research you are free to use quantitative or qualitative measures.

In Block I you will (re)acquaint yourself with the relevant literature and with several individual writing exercises you will create your literature review, theoretical framework and methodological section. We will mostly work in class room settings where you will be able to discuss your work with your peers as well as with your instructor. You will also be asked to present on your progress in class.

In Block II you will execute your empirical research and the emphasis is put on individual meetings.

Please read the following articles before the first class:

Brando, N., Boonen, C., Cogolati, S., Hagen, R., Vanstappen, N., & Wouters, J. (2019). Governing as commons or as global public goods: two tales of power. International Journal of the Commons, 13(1).
Kaul, I. (2012). Global Public Goods: Explaining Their Underprovision. Journal of International Economic Law 15(3): 729–750.
Kaul, I. (2012). Global Public Goods: Explaining Their Underprovision. Journal of International
Economic Law 15(3): 729–750.
Ostrom, E (1998). A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collective Action: Presidential Address, American Political Science Association, 1997. American Political Science Review 92(1): 1–22.

Semester II

05: Sovereignty, Secession and Unrecognized States - Fliervoet
In 2011, South Sudan was the latest country to become a member of the United Nations. The South Sudanese had fought a long and bloody secessionist war with Sudan until 2005, when a peace agreement was reached that allowed the South Sudanese to vote in a referendum on independence six years later. But independence did not bring peace: Since 2011, South Sudan has been embroiled in both internal and external conflict, leaving some to ask: “What was the point of independence if we are still destitute and in chaos?”

In this Bachelor project (BAP), we will investigate the role of secessionist movements in transforming the international system. Secessionist movements challenge the sovereignty, authority and legitimacy of the state of which they are part, while simultaneously trying to reproduce those very same characteristics in an effort to achieve international recognition.

Three central themes will be covered in this BAP. First, we will revisit the principle of sovereignty that is at the heart of the modern state, and investigate under which circumstances state sovereignty is challenged. How do states emerge, and how do they disappear? Why do some groups refuse to recognize the authority of the state of which they are formally part? And how do states and international organizations respond when this happens?

Second, we will examine theories and practices of secession. Recognizing the tension between the principles of territorial integrity and self-determination, we will debate whether there is such a thing as a ‘right to secession,’ and look critically at partition as a solution to ethnic war. We will further examine the peaceful and violent strategies of secession that are used by those pursuing statehood, and investigate why some succeed in achieving recognition while others fail.

Third, we will explore the phenomenon of unrecognized states and take a closer look at their internal and external politics. After gaining an understanding of the difference between de facto and de jure statehood, we will study empirical examples of cases that achieved the former, but not the latter.

We will explore these themes in a seminar format in Block III; in Block IV, we will shift mostly to individual meetings as students work on their individual research projects and write their Bachelor thesis.

06: Democracy in Latin America - Davila Gordillo
Latin America is one of the most unequal regions in the world. In 2019 protesters took to the streets of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela (amongst others) to call for a change in the system. “El pueblo” (the people) needed to be heard, they claimed. The current global pandemic has underscored the pervasiveness of unequal systems particularly in Latin America (and across the globe). In the region, the entrenched inequalities have meant that only few can effectively and safely shelter in place and follow the higher levels of personal hygiene required; many have faced precarious and cramped housing conditions and limited – if not inexistent – access to piped water. The particular crisis in the region provides an opportunity to rethink many aspects of its existing democratic systems.

This Bachelor’s project (BAP) will focus on democracy in Latin America widely defined and the main historical and more current issues that determine and alter it. During Block 3 – the substantive part of the BAP – we will start by reading and discussing current literature on the impact of the global pandemic in the region. Afterwards we will focus on authoritarian politics in the region; social movements (including armed groups, indigenous groups and gender equality movements) and their impact on the politics of the region; party politics and party systems, including the pink tide of leftist governments as well as the right wing movements in the region; electoral politics and how politicians and parties connect to their voters; populism; and corruption, clientelism, and patronage. The assigned readings use empirical examples from numerous countries in the region. Sessions will be centred on discussing the cases and theoretical arguments alongside an overview of historical context.
During Block 4 the focus will shift to individual supervision and the development of students’ theses. Students will be expected to finalize and pursue their research questions (connected to any of the topics discussed during Block 3), conduct more detailed literature reviews (the literature should go well beyond what was assigned for Block 3), and collect and use appropriate evidence to answer their research questions. In short, you will apply the knowledge obtained in the first part of the course, as well as during the first two years of your studies, to actually write your thesis.

07: Cooperation on Global Challenges and Crises - (Bayramov)
As the world becomes ever-more interconnected (economically, ecologically, infrastructurally, and so on), the potential incidence and impact of international crises grows. We see one clear example of just how rapidly such crises can cross national borders and impact multiple policy sectors with the recent pandemic, but one can also think of many other cases: climate change, biodiversity loss, financial implosions, waves of mass migration, food chain and animal disease crises, abrupt resource shortages (such as the 2009 Ukraine-Russia gas crisis which cut off heating oil supplies to much of Europe), natural disasters with far-reaching effects like the 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland, terrorism, and large-scale citizen evacuations due to natural disasters or the outbreak of violence (e.g. Libya in 2011, Mumbai after the terror attacks in 2008, Lebanon in 2006, and following the 2004 tsunami in Asia). Everyone talks about these events when they occur, but oddly and unfortunately, relatively few people are researching them in an analytically meaningful way.
This bachelor’s project brings together a multi-disciplinary array of literatures in order to provide students with a broad foundation upon which to develop and answer research questions on (non-)collaborative responses to such international crises and global challenges. We will review the literature on international collective action / cooperation; discuss works on global challenges and the provisioning of global public goods and common-pool resources to address those challenges; consider theories of regional integration (as a way of thinking about why certain types of transnational crises are managed collectively rather than unilaterally); and study the literature on crisis management. The latter introduces the complex challenges inherent to crisis management, offers relevant analytical frameworks, identifies the common pitfalls and best practices of crisis management, and allows one to think critically about the roles and performance of a range of actors – from individual leaders to international organizations – in times of crisis.
Following the bachelor’s project format, we will survey the topics mentioned above together in seminar format during the initial weeks of this course (most of Block 3). Each of these literatures is broad in its own right, so the intention is not to conduct a detailed review of each but rather to provide an overview of the various approaches that will then allow students to zoom in on what interests them in the second half of the bachelor’s project. For this first part of the course, students are expected to read and actively discuss notable works from each of the literatures surveyed, as well as to complete a couple of assignments that will further the development of their research projects (see ‘assessment’ below).
In Block 4 the focus will shift to individual supervision and the development of students’ theses. Students will be expected to finalize and pursue their research questions, conduct more detailed literature reviews, and collect and use appropriate evidence to answer their research questions. In short, you will apply the knowledge obtained in the first part of the course, as well as during the first two years of your studies, to actually write your thesis.
This bachelor’s project will concentrate on qualitative research methods (primarily because quantitative approaches are rare in this research field – large N studies are difficult to construct due to limited case numbers and the rarity of relevant databases), but other approaches – requiring substantial time investment and creative research design – may be possible.

Student performance in the first part of the bachelor’s project will be assessed on the following:

  • Participation

  • At least one in-class presentation

  • Two written assignments

Prior to the start of the course students should (re-)familiarize themselves with the key points of:
M. Olson (1971). The Logic of Collective Action. Harvard University Press.
E. Ostrom (1990). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press.
And it would be worthwhile to read through the following (relatively short) book:
A. Boin, P. ‘t Hart, E. Stern and B. Sundelius (2016). The Politics of Crisis Management (second edition). Cambridge University Press.
Course readings for each session will be detailed in the syllabus and consist of easily accessible articles and book chapters.

08: International Interventions in Conflicts: Balancing Peace and Justice- Buitelaar
Can there be justice without peace? Can there be with peace without justice? These questions have confronted states and communities alike as they sought to end civil wars. This course deals with how the ‘international community’ has sought to answer them as they engaged collectively in efforts to manage and resolve violent conflict.
Apart from the many other challenges that states and international organizations face as they intervene in a conflict – from stopping violence, to building a rule of law, sustainable peace, democracy, and many things in between – they often also encounter a situation where atrocities have been committed and the perpetrators occupy powerful roles. With the establishment of the International Criminal Court and other international criminal tribunals, the call to prosecute war criminals has increased. But at the same time, negotiators, conflict parties, and even victim populations, have argued that an uncompromising emphasis on criminal justice is prolonging conflicts and, thus, suffering. As the world continues to face violent conflict, the key dilemma therefore remains pertinent: How do we balance peace and justice?
In this course, students will become familiar with various perspectives on the relationship between peace and justice, and how they might oppose or complement each other. We will address how policymakers have changed their approaches (or not) and how global expectations with regard to transitional justice have altered. We will also address the empirical evidence on the effect of international judicial interventions on peace, and discuss several case studies into how criminal prosecutions (allegedly) solidified or undermined peace in conflict-affected countries.
In the second part, students are invited to reflect on the interactions between peace and criminal justice as conflicting or complementary policy goals in international interventions into conflict. They can approach this question quantitatively, qualitatively, or normatively.

09: Social Movements and Political Violence - Jentzsch
This Bachelor’s project (BAP) focuses on the links between civil resistance, social movements and political violence. Civil resistance can take on a variety of forms and social movements engage in different activities to achieve their goals. This BAP seeks to study the linkages between these different forms to analyze processes of escalation and radicalization of contentious collective action.
The substantive component of the BAP is divided into three parts. The first part introduces students to the general topic of civil resistance and social movements: Why do social movements and civil resistance campaigns emerge? Why do people join such campaigns? What do social movements do?
The second part then focuses on the dynamics of state-movement interactions: Under what conditions does civil resistance remain peaceful? Why do states sometimes accommodate and why sometimes repress protest? Under what conditions does nonviolent civil resistance “work” to achieve a movement’s goals?
The third part of the course focuses on the dynamics of intra-movement competition and transformation. How and why do movement tactics evolve? Under what conditions do social movements turn to violence to achieve their goals? What types of violence do they engage in? Under what conditions do social movements produce armed groups?
The types of political violence we will discuss include state repression, riots, political assassinations, terrorism, and civil war. Empirical examples will primarily come from Latin America and Africa, but also from the US and Europe, and include historical and contemporary examples, ranging from the Dutch resistance against German occupation during World War II to the Arab Uprisings in 2010/2011. The assignments during the substantive component of the BAP ask students to make use of a variety of primary and secondary sources, including visual media, and include both individual writing assignments and group presentations.
During the thesis-writing component of the course, students will learn how to plan and write case studies and develop a case study for the Bachelor’s thesis. For the thesis, students are asked to choose one theme studied during the substantive component of the BAP, develop a well-identified research question relevant to that theme, and apply appropriate concepts and theories to a social movement of their choosing. The research for the thesis should go well beyond course readings and include a range of primary and secondary data, including visual media where appropriate.

11: Civil Wars in Theory and Practice - Schulhofer Wohl
This course explores the dynamics of civil wars. It draws on literature in political science and other fields in the social sciences to understand how civil wars are conducted. We begin at the level of the armed actors. We analyze the structure of government armed forces and rebel groups, their tactical effectiveness, the recruitment of fighters, violence against civilians, military engagements between armed rivals, and the role of resources (including external support), ideology, and ethnic and religious identities in shaping their actions. We study violence from the perspective of the armed organization and the interactions of opposing and allied armed organizations, examining what leads to success in warfighting and the causes and consequences of violence against civilians. We then move to the level of individual, studying who participates in armed organizations, the factors that shape continued participation and sacrifice, and the process by which individuals become accustomed to using violence. For each topic, we will identify common policy-making assumptions and assess their evidentiary basis. Readings cover conflicts around the world, from wars in the aftermath of WWII to contemporary Syria.

In Block III, the course will be taught as a seminar. By the end of Block III, students will have developed skills necessary to answer complex questions about civil wars – both on trans-national issue areas and individual civil wars – and with an eye towards the relevance of those questions for policy. Students will be graded on participation, two written assignments, and one in-class presentation.

In Block IV, under the supervision of the instructor, each student will conduct original research on a question identified during Block III and write a bachelor’s thesis presenting this research. While Block IV will consist mostly of individual research and supervision thereof, we will also meet several times as a group to discuss projects-in-progress.

The syllabus will be distributed at the first meeting of the course.

BEFORE the first meeting, please read:
1: O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. “How to Tell a True War Story,” pp.67-80.
2: Armitage, David. 2017. Civil Wars: A History in Ideas. New York: Knopf. Introduction, “Confronting Civil War,” pp.3-30.

12: Small States in World Politics - Veenendaal
Existing academic studies of international relations (IR) primarily focus on a handful of large powers like the United States, China, Russia, and India. In classical IR theories, small states are mostly regarded as objects in world politics, which cannot have a meaningful independent impact on international affairs. Being limited in in population size, territory, natural resources, and military capabilities, small states are seen as vulnerable and weak, and their survival permanently dependent on the goodwill of larger countries.
But if this is the case, how can we explain the economic influence of small countries like Luxembourg and Singapore? How can it be that a country like Qatar is not only able to host the FIFA World Cup, but also to sponsor Islamic insurgency groups throughout the Middle East? How do countries like Estonia, Georgia, and Moldova deal with mounting Russian assertiveness in central and eastern Europe? Why have Cyprus and Malta recovered so fast from the global economic crisis, while larger Mediterranean countries continue to face economic stagnation? What role do Caribbean countries play in transnational drugs trafficking networks, and how have tiny Pacific island states succeeded in putting climate change and rising sea levels on the agenda of the United Nations? As these questions demonstrate, the position of small states in global politics is not as insignificant as scholars have generally assumed. Small countries certainly can play an important role in international affairs, and many small states make creative use of their sovereignty to compensate for their relative weakness in the international system.
In this bachelor project, students will study the foreign policies and international relations of either one or a limited number of small states with less than 1,5 million inhabitants (there are 46 of them in total). In the substantive part of the course, we will first pay attention to the views of the mainstream IR theories on small states. Subsequently, we will discuss more specific literature on the international security, economic development, and foreign policies of small states, as well as the participation of small states in international organizations. In the second part of the course, students will focus on writing their individual bachelor’s thesis. Students are free to choose any particular focus of their project, and bachelor theses could for example focus on small state foreign policy, small state behavior in international organizations, domestic determinants of small state foreign policy, or economic development strategies and (international) economic policies of small states. While single-case or small-N comparative research designs are most practicable, students are also free to choose a quantitative or mixed methods design if they desire so.

13: The European Union in Crisis: Challenges, Compromises, Results - Maricut-Akbik
In the last decade, the European Union (EU) has been confronted with multiple crises. The nature of crises was diverse, affecting key policy areas such as the economic and monetary union, justice and home affairs, common foreign and security policy, environmental and health affairs, as well as crucial constitutional aspects. As a supranational polity with a complex multi-level governance system, the EU was not equipped to deal with emergency politics. The EU response to crises was often slow, fragmented, and incomplete, attracting criticism both from a problem-solving and democratic legitimacy perspective. Against this background, Eurosceptic parties have gained ground across Member States, making it even more difficult for governments to reach compromises on collective solutions.

This bachelor project will explore specific challenges faced by the EU in recent years. The substantive part of the course will cover different crisis episodes in detail: the euro crisis, the refugee crisis, the Ukraine crisis, the CETA trade crisis, Brexit and the rule of law crisis, climate change and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The emphasis will be on 1) institutional responses to crisis situations, 2) decision-making under time pressure and domestic constraints, and 3) outcomes for the European integration process more generally.

In the second part of the course, students will write individual theses on an EU crisis of their choice. Research questions can address explanations for EU responses to a crisis (drawing on European integration theory), agenda-setting and EU leadership during crises, decision-making and intra-/interinstitutional negotiation dynamics, but also governance results of EU crisis management. Supervision will focus on case study design and qualitative methods, although the course is open to all methodological approaches.

Learning goals:

  • Understand EU responses to recent crises in different policy areas

  • Gain in-depth knowledge of a particular crisis episode and its treatment in the specialised literature

  • Identify research question(s), write literature review, and conduct own empirical analysis of a specific crisis

Background Literature:
Dinan, Desmond, Neill Nugent, and William E. Paterson, eds. 2017. The European Union in Crisis. London: Palgrave Macmillan Education.

14: Institutions, History and Development - de Zwart
This bachelor project aims to acquaint students with institutionalist explanation in political science. We shall study and discuss various institutionalist traditions and focus especially on historical-institutionalism, a prominent and influential institutionalist approach. We use Acemoglu and Robinson’s Why Nations Fail (2013) as a key publication in the first half of this course. This study is an influential contribution to the discussion about causes of development and underdevelopment. The authors use the comparative method and provide an interesting and challenging historical institutionalist explanation. We do not use a handbook but besides Acemoglu and Robinson we read and discuss various articles that will help to position Acemoglu and Robinson’s Why Nations Fail theoretically and empirically. Besides introducing students to institutionalist explanation, this course aims to enable students in designing, conducting, and reporting their own research. The second half of this course the second half of this course concentrates research and writing the BA thesis. We shall follow Acemoglu and Robinson’s comparative approach, and apply, criticize, elaborate, or test their claims. Within this general frame, students are free to choose a subject, region, area, and period to research. A variety of subjects is possible. Topics that evoke themes like ‘the effects of colonial heritage on political and economic development today’; ‘the durable influence or direct and indirect rule’; ‘the relationship between (economic) development and democracy’; ‘the primacy of politics in matters of development’; ‘democratization and backsliding’, for instance, fall well within the realm of this course.

Educational goals
To deepen students’ knowledge of institutionalist theory. Train capacity to critically work with this theory, especially in the field of development and democratization. To train students in the use of comparative method and in conducting research and writing.

Seminars: close reading, discussion, presentations, ‘mini-lectures,’ individual supervision (especially in the final writing of the BA thesis).

Part I (week 1-6): two writing assignments 30% (1500 words) and 50% (2500 words) and a presentation (20 %).
Part II (week 7-16): Thesis Proposal; BA thesis (between 7,000-8,000 words, exl. references).

Acemoglu, Daron and James A. Robinson. 2013. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. London: Profile Books.

Selected articles, to be announced.

15. International Cooperation and The Design of Global Economic Institutions - Sampson
Following the financial crisis of 2008, the role of global economic institutions has become more important than ever in facilitating and sustaining international economic cooperation in areas from financial regulation to international trade. These institutions also increasingly shape the domestic economic and political policies available to states. Given the crucial role of such institutions in the contemporary international system, a great deal of important research in international political economy has focused on describing the various factors shaping the design and evolution of these institutions as well as the consequences of such choices. This bachelor’s project will begin by exploring and evaluating broad analytical approaches to international cooperation, as well as questioning the role of power, timing, and ideas in shaping the design of global economic institutions. Related questions focusing on the distributional consequences of particular institutional designs will also be addressed. In this project global economic institutions are broadly defined to include not only organizations such as the WTO, IMF, and World Bank but also governance arrangements, regulations, and international agreements.

16: International Law, use of Force, and Protection of Human Rights -Kinacioglu
This thesis seminar is designed to support bachelor students in conceptualizing, structuring and writing their projects on topics related to the law of the use of force in international relations, and the instruments and institutions for protection of human rights. It provides for key conceptual foundations of resort to force and human rights, and introduces main theoretical debates with special emphasis on questions related to the current practice, legitimacy and efficiency. The seminar also includes methodological aspects with a focus on normative research design. It invites project proposals that involve several aspects, diverse issues and current debates regarding the use of force and human rights.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students are able to:

  • Reflect on key debates in the law of the use of force and in relation to both multilateral and unilateral military interventions;

  • Have a solid knowledge of how international legal norms on the use of force and humanitarian intervention have evolved and implemented by international organisations and states;

  • Identify the principle instruments of human rights at the international level;

  • Assess efficacy of the major international enforcement mechanisms and international human rights norms.

Upon successful completion of this course, students are able to:

  • Conduct research in legal-normative issues with substance and structure;

  • Think analytically and critically, and present and support rigorous, well-developed arguments;

  • Compare and contrast different cases of the use of force;

  • Discuss dilemmas in the protection of human rights;

Mode of instruction
The course consists of 14 two-hour interactive seminars, which involve lectures, discussions and group work, exploring the research on the use of force and human rights. Students are expected to participate actively by raising questions and developing ideas based on the readings, class discussions and lectures. Lectures will also focus on designing research, formulating research questions, drawing conceptual framework and research strategies.

Reading list
The list of readings will be made available upon commencement of the course.

17: The Welfare State in International Perspective - van Reuler
How can we explain the development of welfare states in different countries? This is the question that will take centre stage during this bachelor project.
Since the Second World War, many western states introduced extensive provisions to guarantee a minimum standard of living for their citizens. Health care, education, income security, and public housing are all among the functions of the welfare state. Since the 1970s, many governments have attempted - though with mixed results - to scale back their welfare state. The great recession formed a strong impetus for renewed debates and reforms, which often unfolded at an unprecedented scale and pace.

During the first block, we will start with discussing the historical development of welfare states and the major academic debates surrounding them. We will also have sessions on topics such as the influence of globalisation on the welfare state and the ‘Nordic model’. Once this foundation has been laid, we will look into the welfare state from a comparative and transnational perspective. The comparative perspective means that we will analyse and compare developments in various countries. The transnational perspective involves looking at policy transfer, including the impact of international organisations, such as the World Bank, on the development of welfare states.

The welfare state is generally considered an inherently western concept. Therefore, the focus of the seminars during block 3 will mostly be on this group of countries. However, students are allowed to work on topics related to social policies in non-western countries for their thesis.

This bachelor project will have a focus on qualitative methods, but a mixed methods approach is also an option.

This project has only room for 10 participants


During the seminars we will discuss the following book (digitally available through University Library):
Van Kersbergen and Vis (2014). Comparative welfare state politics: Development, opportunities, and reform. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In addition to this book, we will use various articles and book chapters. A full list will be included in the syllabus.

Please read the following - as the title says very short - book before the first seminar:
Garland, D. (2016). The welfare state: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

18: Politics and Development in Southeast Asia - Loughlin
Southeast Asia is a dynamic region of around 650 million people encompassing a variety of political, economic, ecological, cultural, and religious structures and systems. This course focuses on the political economy of development in this fast-changing area of the world. Engaging with key concepts and theories in political science and development studies at the domestic and international levels, we will cover topics such as human rights and the environmental impacts of development, land dispossession, gender and development, labour politics, the politics of international aid, and the influence of China’s growing economic and political power on political and development outcomes in the region. In the process we will also consider how domestic political systems and settlements in the countries of the region shape their development trajectories. The course will be taught mainly from a qualitative methodological perspective and students will also be given guidance in research design. Seminars and discussions in the first part of the course will prepare students to undertake an independent bachelor thesis/project on a topic of their interest in the second part of the course.

The Political Economy of Southeast Asia: Politics and Uneven Development under Hyperglobalisation. Toby Carroll, Shahar Hameiri and Lee Jones (eds) (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

19: The Environmental Causes of Conflict - RezaeeDaryakenari
How does the environment affect peace and conflict? An emerging consensus within the policy circles recognizes the effects of climate change as a severe threat to international security and world peace. There are, also, plenty of reports and research on how rebel groups all around the world finance their operation using the revenue from natural resources such as oil, gold, diamond, and Coca. In this course, we will explore the relationship between climate and natural resources on one side and political conflict and violence on the other side.
The first part of the course (Block III) starts with unpacking the meaning of environment and conflict as two rather elusive concepts, which scholars conceptualized and measured differently. Then, we will discuss the literature on environmental security aiming to answer three main questions. First, how do climate change and weather anomalies as well as resource scarcity and abundance start and amplify conflict? Second, how does conflict affect the environment and exacerbate environmental issues? Finally, how can we ease and possibly resolve environment-related conflicts? We will conclude the first part of the course (Block III) by discussing the different methodological approaches that scholars and practitioners use for studying environmental security threats.
In addition to lectures, the course is designed to encourage students to participate in class discussions and group activities. Also, each student is expected to turn in two written assignments in Block III. One is a response essay (2-3 pages double space) that critiques the assigned readings to one session of the course. The second assignment is a short essay (3-5 pages double space) on the research question that you will explore in the second part of the course (Block IV). This assignment asks you to discuss the importance of your question and explain the feasibility of exploring it. Building on this proposal, you will formulate your research question and develop a research design to conduct your inquiry and write the bachelor thesis in the second part of the course (Block IV). We will schedule several individual meetings during Block IV so that you can report the progress of your research to the instructor and receive his feedback as well as discuss the challenges you may face in writing your bachelor thesis.
Reading list:
The readings list includes academic articles and policy reports. Once it is finalized, the instructor will share the reading list and syllabus on his GitHub page for this course:
In the meantime, feel free to contact the instructor if you had any questions about this project.

21: International Organisations and Complex Global Challenges - DeRock
Since the mid-twentieth century, states have attempted to coordinate global affairs through international organisations (IOs) such at the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Today, IOs are in a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, multilateral cooperation is urgent – perhaps more than ever – in the face of the climate crisis, a global pandemic, economic inequality, and other challenges. On the other hand, many citizens and policymakers are expressing distrust of IOs. Contestation comes from multiple directions, including from nationalist and populist leaders, critics of neoliberalism, and those who simply think IOs are not effective enough.
In this Bachelor Project, we will investigate the roles of IOs in this complex global landscape. The seminar explores IOs from historical, contemporary, and forward-looking perspectives. We will address questions such as: Why have states decided to create and join IOs in the first place? Are IOs the ‘puppets’ of powerful states, or are they powerful actors in their own right? Do developing countries have an equal say in IO policies, and if not, why not? And are the IOs of today capable of meeting the immense governance challenges of tomorrow?
Substantively, the first part of the course will emphasize themes related to (a) global economic policy, (b) environmental governance, and (c) sustainable development (the intersection of the first two themes). Examples of topics covered in the readings include poverty reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals, and climate policy. In terms of theory, we will consider a range of perspectives, including constructivist, rationalist, and critical approaches.
For the Bachelor thesis, students are free to choose from a much wider range of topics – anything from peacekeeping to artificial intelligence, as long as international organisations are at the center of the research. Regarding research methods, students will learn how to make use of a variety of qualitative primary data sources, including: online archives of IOs; publicly available interview transcripts and oral histories; official documents; and the minutes and reports of meetings. This project is best suited for qualitative methods.
The reading list will be available before the start of the course. This will include both required and recommended articles and book chapters. BEFORE the first meeting, please read the following article (published more than twenty years ago, but still highly influential):
Barnett, M., & Finnemore, M. (1999). The politics, power, and pathologies of international organizations. International Organization, 53(4), 699–732.

22: The Return of Great Powers in Politics - Haigh
In the early post-Cold War years, many experts predicted an end to the kind of great power rivalry and conflict that had more or less characterized the conduct of international relations over the preceding centuries. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the seeming triumph of liberal democracy and free-market economics, increasingly complex interdependence, a rising global civil society, the idea of a shared or common human fate: these things and more led most commentators to believe that we had entered a new, more cooperative era.

That sense of optimism has largely disappeared. As it already was back then, China is on the rise--but in many circles China is currently perceived more as a revisionist adversary that needs to be contained, than a notionally willing partner in a rules-based international order. Russia now seeks to disrupt that order by various means, with a view (according to many) to re-establishing itself in something like its former Soviet glory. At the same time, widespread populist movements, often coupled with increasingly strident nationalism, are now arguably in the ascendent, to the extent that previously unexamined assumptions about the virtues of globalization, multilateralism, and a liberal international order are now under serious question.

In this BAP, we will analyze these developments and their implications through an interpretivist lens, in which the emphasis is placed on critical analysis of texts and discourse, but also of existing datasets, and of emergent phenomena in the form of "facts on the ground

23: Security and Peace Building - Rrustemi
In the current global order, many states are confronted with difficulties in fulfilling their central functions vis-à-vis its citizens, leading in the worst cases to violence, hybrid warfare, organized crime, poverty, massive flows of refugees, internally displaced people, child soldiers, grave abuses of women and the destruction of world culture and heritage. In an interconnected world, state and peace weakness and failure have thus been identified as one of the central threats to global peace and stability and their prevention has become a main priority of the international community.The approach adopted by the international community, international organizations, to prevent state and peace failure and decrease security threats include measures as diverse as military (humanitarian) intervention, and state, nation and peace building missions.
Therefore, the course provides an analysis of interventions on security and peace building processes, and ultimately aims to understand how to construct sustainable and inclusive security and peace. The following questions are raised: What are the theoretical lenses that we can study peace and security building processes? How are security and peace building interventions developed and implemented? What is their impact (read effectiveness) in the targeted countries/communities? How can we anticipate spoilers of peace and security building and how can we counter them in a timely and appropriate manner to create a more secure world and sustainable peace?
The course outlines the main theoretical underpinnings, various methodologies and relevant societal challenges. More specifically, it addresses the main theoretical frameworks on post-conflict reconstruction, such as military interventions, early warning mechanisms, peacekeeping, liberal and post liberal peace, peace infrastructures, nation building, state building, religion and reconciliation. It also focuses on the role of different actors in shaping the post-war states and current theoretical and societal debates, including states (the role of the US, China, Russia), local communities (grassroots), international community (international organizations), networks (organized crime, illegal migration/trafficking of human beings, violent extremism, and countering and preventing violent extremism), individuals (dictators, oligarchs) and companies (technological, artificial intelligence). The methods employed in the course are diverse: quantitative and qualitative. Special attention is paid to state-society-industry and local-international relations in the post-conflict reconstruction by assessing different case studies from Africa, Middle East, Asia and Europe.

IP03: Agenda setting and policy-making in the European Union - Elias Carillo
This Project is available to both IP and IRO students
The European Union (EU) is a complex political system. Its setup includes 28 members states with different interests and ideas on what issues to attend and how to do so. The roles of its political institutions are not clearly separated and many are shared. How are then policies created in the EU? In this course we will study the policy-making process in this system and more specifically agenda setting. Some of the questions that we will address are: how does the EU deal with policy problems? Who participates? How do issues arrive on the agenda? Why do EU policy makers devote attention to some issues and ignore others? Can the EU deal with all sorts of problems to begin with?
We will discuss relevant analytical approaches to better understand the European Union. We will examine general characteristics of policy making and then focus on agenda setting. We will study theoretical perspectives, concepts and classic literature on the topic. We will identify main features of this policy stage, such as key actors and driving factors. We will also examine empirical work on agenda setting dynamics in different policy domains. All in all, in the first part of the course we will learn how the EU determines its priorities, by studying ‘what’ (issues come on the agenda), ‘how’ (issues enter it), ‘who’ (takes them up) and why. In the second part, students will write an individual thesis related to a theme on agenda setting, as identified in the previous part. Research methods can be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed. The thesis must be written in English.