Students can only start with writing their thesis when they have 30 Credits.
The final component of the programme consists of writing a Master’s thesis. Once the thesis has been approved, it must be defended orally. The thesis should be based on your specialisation, which is either History of the Book, Publishing Studies or Digital Access to Cultural Heritage.
Submitting a Thesis Proposal Aim of the Master’s Thesis
A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with the supervisors. The thesis must show that the student is capable of analysing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting independent research. This process must moreover be recorded in an academically sound report.
Choosing a Topic
Generally speaking, students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, in consultation with one of the staff members of Book and Digital Media. In most cases, the first supervisor of the thesis will be the lecturer responsible for the 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 supervision. At the heart of a Master’s thesis lies a specific research problem which either addresses a theoretical question or an issue from the empirical practice in the domain of Book and Digital Media, which is examined in a profound academic way. Before a research problem can be formulated, students first do some preparatory reading. Formulating the research question is one of the most important components of research because it constitutes the basis for all further activities. Once the student has selected a topic, formulated a research problem and a related theoretical or empirical question and put together a provisional bibliography, the thesis proposal can be submitted to the intended supervisor. It should include the title of the thesis, a provisional bibliography and a description of the topic. The proposal must be submitted to no later than three months before the planned graduation date. The supervisor will then inspect the thesis proposal to ensure that it is of an appropriate academic level, that it contains no plagiarism, etc.
Research and Writing Literature Survey
In principle, students will already have made a start on the literature survey in the course of formulating their provisional bibliography. This can be done systematically by consulting the University Library, the Royal Library (The Hague) or other relevant sources. It is important to be very precise and systematic in writing down one’s sources, as much time can be wasted in having to look up sources and notes again at a later stage. The MLA style sheet gives precise indications on the information which must be included in a bibliography. 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.
Handing in a first part
The first chapter is handed in to the supervisor and discussed. It is not advisable to hand in the entire thesis in one piece.
Handing in the final version
Once the entire thesis is completed, the student should hand in two copies of the so-called final draft, one to each reader. Their comments will be integrated into the final version. The first reader then contacts the student and makes an appointment for the defence date.
In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:
• The formulated research problem and subsequent question(s);
• The research process and use of research methods;
• Use of relevant concepts or theories;
• Integration and use of relevant secondary sceintific literature;
• Originality of the arguments;
• innovative perspectives;
• Scientific and professional relevance of subject and outcomes;
• Structure of the thesis;
• Quality of style and use of language;
• Quality of the defence.
Mode of instruction
Thesis of approximately 20.000 words.
Co-ordinator of Studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.