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Thesis Seminar International Politics - Spring 2021



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 Brightspace.

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 25 November 15.15 - 17.00, there will be a general introduction meeting ONLINE 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 (2536)
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 Brightspace at the beginning of the semester
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.
This Thesis Seminar has a maximum of 8 students

Theme 02: International Organisations - Macaj (2537)
This thesis seminar aims at helping students conceive and develop theoretically informed empirical research projects on International Organisations broadly conceived. It includes but is not limited to questions about the creation, design, performance, distributional effects, legitimacy and reform of international organizations at the regional (e.g. European Union, African Union) and global levels (e.g. United Nations, International Labour Organisation). The range of issues that can be examined is vast and can include well-defined aspects of human rights, peace and security, health, climate change, trade and new technologies. We will be discussing substantive questions about the nature and role of IOs but also methodological questions about how to go about studying them in a rigorous manner. A syllabus with a reading list and details about the practical organisation of the seminar will be provided at the beginning of the semester.

Theme 03: The Return of Great Power Politics - Haigh (2538)
This thesis seminar aims to offer support towards writing a Master's thesis within the larger field of International Relations (IR). We will focus on themes related to great power competition and rivalry and on how, after such a promising period immediately following the Cold War, tensions in this domain have steadily increased. Inter alia, specific issue areas include the rise of China and its implications with respect to (re)formulating "the rules of the game," the continuing role of a somewhat diminished but still formidable Russia in global politics, other aspirants to great power status, democratic backsliding and an attendant growth in the seeming attractions of authoritarianism, and the future of multilateral cooperation in an era of global-scale challenges.

The seminar does not, however, address these themes substantively. Rather, we zero in on the more practical matter of writing a coherent, theoretically compelling, and empirically sound thesis. The emphasis here will be on qualitative research, more specifically on interpretivism: the critical analysis and interpretation of texts and other discourse. On the other hand, mixed methods, and quantitative study will also be welcomed.

Theme 04: Global Governance and Sustainable Development - DeRock (22739)
This thesis seminar will support students in writing a master’s thesis related to the broad themes of global governance and sustainable development. These two interrelated subjects have become buzzwords in policy and research, but they are both widely debated. Moreover, at least rhetorically, sustainable development has been incorporated into nearly all aspects of global development and economic policy in recent years. This opens up a wide range of possible thesis topics. Specific topics might include, for example: the development policies of international organizations; the Sustainable Development Goals; the Paris Climate Agreement; ‘green finance’; debates over ‘green growth’ versus ‘degrowth’; or poverty reduction strategies. A variety of qualitative methods are encouraged – such as archival research, document analysis, and interviews – but mixed-methods approaches will also be possible. Please note, however, that there will be an emphasis on qualitative methods. Students will also work on practical matters such as structuring an introduction and writing an effective literature review.


Registration in uSis for one thesis seminar is possible from Monday 14 December 2020 10.00h until 20 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 2020. 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.