Aim of the Master’s Thesis
A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with two supervisors. The thesis must show that the student is capable of analysing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting independent research. Moreover, this process must be recorded in an academically sound report.
Choosing a Topic
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 the director of studies.
Students should approach the relevant lecturer and discuss with him/her the chosen topic and potential research question. The supervisor, also known as ‘first reader’, will undoubtedly be able to point to relevant secondary literature. A second reader is chosen in consultation with the supervisor. At this point, clear agreements are made concerning the supervision procedure.
At the heart of a Master’s thesis lies a research question, together with the answer to that question. Before a research question can be formulated, the student first has to do some preparatory reading. Formulating the research question is one of the most important components of research because this question forms the basis for all further activities. A third of the time reserved for writing a Master’s thesis should be spent on reading secondary literature and formulating a research question. The rest of the time is reserved for fieldwork (in Africa) and writing the thesis.
Students should start out by formulating a clear plan for the structure of the thesis, in consultation with their supervisor. Only then can they begin writing. Questions of style will only become relevant at a later stage.
Keep in mind that information which could not be included in the thesis itself might come in handy during the defence.
In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:
Formulating and analysing the research question;
Structure of the thesis;
Integration of secondary literature into the argument;
Description and integration of fieldwork data into the argument;
Good argumentation of student’s own arguments;
Style, use of language and lay-out;
Mode of instruction
Research/Fieldwork/Irregular meetings with other students, writing their thesis.
Thesis of approximately 20.000 words.
The thesis is not supported by blackboard.
To be established in consultation with supervisor.