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MA Thesis Global Conflict in the Modern Era


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations, track Global Conflict in the Modern Era, and completion of the course Thesis Seminar and Methods in International Relations Research.


A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with a supervisor. The thesis must show that the student is capable of analyzing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting independent research. Moreover, this process must be recorded in an academically sound report.

Generally speaking, students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, based on a Master’s course that they followed. In most cases, the first supervisor of the thesis will be the lecturer responsible for the Master’s course which inspired the thesis. In case of doubt, students can always consult other supervisors within the Humanities Faculty.

During the first semester, students will complete the 5 EC course Thesis Seminar and Methods in International Relations Research in which they will choose a topic for their thesis, formulate a research question, and submit a research proposal and literature review. Students who have not fulfilled the requirements of this course or have not received the approval of the Examinations Committee will not have their MA thesis supervised.

Course objectives

Completion of a 15,000 word thesis based on original and independent research.

Thesis supervision

The following list provides an indication of some of the available thesis supervisors in the MAIR programme. The decision regarding the supervisor is determined within each specialization and subject to the approval of the Board of Examiners. Students may not be able to work with their preferred supervisor and may be assigned a supervisor who is not currently listed here.

Dr. L. Black is ready to supervise students who wish to work on China-Japan security relations, Asia-Pacific security, maritime security in East/Southeast Asia, critical security studies in the Asia-Pacific, theoretical approaches to security in the Asia-Pacific M.S. Berger supervises students working on the stand-off between Iran and Saudi-Arabia and Islamic terrorist organizations.

Dr. Eugenio Cusumanois especially interested in the role of non-state actors in the provision of security and eager to supervise students working on private security, humanitarian NGOs, border and maritime security

Dr V. Chang is open to supervising students on theses addessing the history, memory, and contemporary legacies of the Chinese War of Resistance / The Asia-Pacific War, including the war’s impact on wartime or post-war societies in (Greater) China, nationalism and nation-building, global and regional diplomacy (including Cross-Strait relations), historical memory, and contemporary Chinese views of international relations.

Dr Maxine David is available to supervise MAIR theses grounded in the literature of International Relations and focused on contemporary or historical international interventions, their causes, motivations, courses and/or consequences. Research might be theoretically and conceptually directed or more empirically focused on single or comparative case studies.

Prof Dr Isabelle Duyvesteyn would welcome thesis proposals that aim to study problems related to any aspect of war and peace in modern history. She has a background in War studies and her own research interests include strategy, the nature of war and peace in the developing world, irregular warfare, the history of terrorism and counter-terrorism, strategic culture and intelligence. However, she is willing to supervise theses which focus on any question pertaining to conflict, strategy and security and operating from multiple disciplinary angles.

Dr. Gawthorpe is ready to supervise students who wish to work on any aspect of United States foreign and security policy, counterinsurgency warfare and nation-building, or the history of wars and warfare in the modern era.
I can supervise any theses that discuss the Political Economy of Eurasia, or Energy (Energy Geopolitics, Energy Security, Environmental Sustainability), theses on state-market relations from the IPE perspective, power shifts in the international order, Russian domestic and foreign policy, Sino-Russian relations, personal networks and elite identity in Eurasia, Political Identity and linkages between domestic and foreign policy in Eurasia.

Prof. A.W.M. Gerrits is ready to supervise any student. He is especially interested in the foreign policies and international relations of Russia and the EU, in nationalism and its impact on international relations, and in the history of international relations research.

Dr. S. Y. Jang is willing to supervise MAIR theses focusing on military and civil uses of nuclear technology in East Asia, security and conflict on the Korean Peninsula, foreign policy and international relations of Korea, and US nuclear policy toward East Asia. She would also welcome any other theses related to international/global nuclear history, broadly defined.

Dr. van der Maat specializes in the relationship between elite rivalry within authoritarian regimes and mass political violence. His specialization includes authoritarian politics, mass violence, genocide, and the more general relationship between rivalry within state or non-state organizations (e.g., militia, rebel, or terrorist organizations) and violence or war. He would also be happy to supervise theses that deal with other global conflict themes in various regions of the world, such as state and non-state violence, civil conflict and war.

Dr Lukas Milevski's field of interest is war and strategic studies. He is interested in military strategy in theory, in historical thought, and in historical and contemporary practice and analysis. This interest spans all of history and every region, and the full breadth of strategic experience from land power, air power, sea power, cyber power, grand strategy, and defense planning.

Dr. Regilme is ready to supervise students who wish to work on research projects dealing with any or several of the following topics: the transnational politics of human rights norms; history and impacts of international human rights institutions; global political economy and its impacts on human rights; theories of global justice. He is also interested in supervising projects that focus on foreign aid and its political consequences to recipient countries, theories of global governance, contemporary United States foreign policy, and the transnational factors that impact state repression and political violence.

Dr.Karen Smith'sresearch interests cut across the following broad topics: 1) non-western understandings of international relations; 2) foreign policy analysis (particularly of emerging powers and regional powers in the Global South; 3) changes in global order and implications for global governance; 4) the responsibility to protect. She is particularly interested in supervising innovative research that explores how non-western and non-traditional sources can provide us with new insights into existing challenges, as well as raise new questions.

Dr. Thakur is ready to supervise theses on postcolonial and critical approaches to security.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Not applicable.

Assessment method

The thesis for the MA International Relations is a maximum of 15.000 words. The word count is including notes, bibliography and appendices (corresponding to OER art.2). The thesis is supervised by a lecturer in the Humanities Faculty, who possesses expertise in the relevant field. The thesis is judged by two lecturers involved in the program.

In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:

  • Formulating and analyzing the research question;

  • Structure of the thesis;

  • Integration of primary and secondary literature into the argument;

  • Argumentation skills;

  • Style, use of language and lay-out;

  • Independent and original research

Also see the regulations concerning the procedure surrounding the master’s thesis.

Reading list

Students who need help finding suitable literature for starting the thesis can make a one-on-one appointment with the subject librarian. Students can also consult the subject guides, created by the subject librarians, which give an overview of resources on each specific field of study.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


The co-ordinator of studies or your thesis supervisor.