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Thesis Seminar Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict and Development - Spring 2022



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 1 December 2021, 15.15h 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: Ethnic Diversity and Political Institutions - (dr. F. de Zwart) - activity nr 12386
This thesis seminar aims to help students write theses on a topic under the broader field of “politics of ethnic diversity.” Within this field a wide range of topics and areas can be chosen and students will be guided individually in making that choice. Ethnic diversity and representative democracy often come at clash with each other. Inequality between, and representation of (minority) groups is a common challenge for contemporary democracies. Some examples of possible topics in this seminar are: The making and representation of ethnic groups; Ethnic voting and ethnic parties; Causes of and (institutional) solutions to ethnic inequality; Electoral system design; Recognition and redistribution.

This seminar invites students who are interested in diversity and institutions to benefit from working together on their projects. These projects, however, are individual and so is most of the supervision in this seminar. This seminar will not provide substantive instruction, but will build upon the one provided in the NECD core seminar our aim is to focus on methodological instruction to support the completion of coherent thesis proposals and MSc theses.

Theme 02: Development, Governance and Conflict (D. Uribe) - activity nr 12387
The aim of this thesis seminar is to help students in the process of writing their master theses. It will guide students in the different steps to build a coherent and consistent research procedure to complete the final thesis. The seminar focuses on the broad theme of development, governance and conflict in the developing world. What are the debates regarding development governance? What is the relationship between development and conflict? What role should the state play in the development process? Are there non-western understandings of development? Specific issues might include the impacts of global/local development on local communities; how development influences violent conflicts; the relationship between large-scale extraction of natural resources and local communities; the politics and policies of poverty and inequality in the developing world. The seminar entails a focus on qualitative research methods

Theme 03: The Dark Side of Identity: the Politics of Exclusion, Marginalization, and Conflict - (dr. L. Demarest) - activity nr 22562
Cultural identity markers, including ethnicity, race, religion, and indigeneity, may become salient in the political domain and give rise to processes of exclusion, marginalization, and even violent conflict. While heterogeneity as such does not necessarily lead to antagonistic intergroup relations, the implications of these negative dynamics have been witnessed across the globe, including in the recent civil war in Ethiopia and the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. In this thesis seminar, students are invited to address research questions related to the general theme of when and why diversity sometimes leads to exclusion, marginalization, and conflict, but not at other times. Students may make use of both qualitative methods (including case study design, secondary literature analysis) and quantitative methods (including analyses of conflict occurrences, survey data with regard to intergroup attitudes/behaviours).

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.


Registration in uSis for one thesis seminar is possible from Thursday 16 December 2021, 13.00h until Wednesday 22 December 2021, 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 Brightspace.
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.