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Thesis Seminar Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict and Development - 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: Borders and Migration - Longo (2541)
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 02: Governance Reforms in Developing Countries - Chauchard (2542)
In keeping with the instructor’s specialization, this is a thesis seminar focusing on the internal politics of developing countries, especially (though not only) when it comes to elections, political representation and governance. The only requirement is that students identify, and address, an empirical question about the way in which some aspect of politics takes place in one or several developing countries. The term “developing” is here broadly defined. Students may develop research projects that examine one aspect of political development in a country that currently tends to be referred to as “developing” or focus on historical dynamics in a country that is now arguably more “developed”. Possible themes include, but are not limited to : ethnic conflict and conflict prevention; regimes and the quality of democracy; challenges to state-building and/or to democratic consolidation in weak states and unconsolidated democracies; electoral processes; reforms/interventions currently or historically implemented to improve the quality of governance in developing countries.
There is no geographical constraint. The instructor welcomes theses on a wide variety of contexts. Qualitative and quantitative methodologies can be used, as well as comparisons of countries, subnational units, or individual cases. Students who followed the course “Elections in Emerging Democracies” will be able to build on the literature and the theoretical debates reviewed there.

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


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.