nl en

Thesis Seminar (International Relations) First Semester


Admission requirements

Compulsory course for all MA International Studies Students.


How do I write a literature review and design a research project? What are the central ontological, epistemological, and ethical issues in international studies? How might these issues influence my research? What are the key qualitative methodologies I can use to measure developments in global politics and global political economy? What are the limitations of these methodologies? How do I prepare for and deliver a professional ‘conference’ presentation about my research? These are the kinds of questions MA students often pose regarding their MA thesis. This course is designed to provide answers to these questions and to broaden students methodological skill sets.
This course begins by considering the key elements of research design including formulating research questions and planning research. Throughout the course, students will develop their own MA thesis research projects by learning how to write book and literature reviews, research proposals and deliver professional ‘conference’ presentations. In subsequent sessions, students engage with some of the central ontological, epistemological, and ethical issues in international studies. These issues include, Theory in International Relations, Structure and Agency, Critical Epistemology, and Ethics in Research. In the second half of the course, students will take five qualitative research methodology classes where the emphasis will be placed on a ‘hands on’ approach to applying methods in international studies. These qualitative methods include, Case Studies, Content and Psychological Analysis, Interviews and Ethnography, Discourse Analysis, and Process Tracing. The course concludes with a two-day session in which students deliver a professional ‘conference’ presentation about their MA thesis research.

Course objectives

The purpose of the course is to academically prepare the student for being able to engage in self-directed research towards their MA thesis in International Studies. In particular, students will:

  • Design, write, and present effective research projects that add to the International Studies literature.

  • Understand central ontological, epistemological, and ethical issues in International Studies and how these influence research.

  • Apply qualitative methods in International Studies research.



Mode of instruction

Lecture and Seminar

Assessment method

Final grades for this module will be based on:

  • Participation element
    (incl. attendance, participation and completion of weekly assignments and presentations): 30%

  • Analytical element
    (1x analytical assignment): 20%

  • Research element
    Initial MA thesis proposal: 10%
    (literature review): 20%
    (research proposal): 20%


A handbook denoting weekly readings will be posted on Blackboard the week before the start of the semester.
Additional information (powerpoints, useful websites, etc…) will also be found on Blackboard over the course of the semester.

Reading list

  • George, A. and Bennett, A. 2005. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Cambridge MA: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

  • Klotz, A. and Prakash, D. Eds. 2008. Qualitative Methods in International Relations. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, MacMillan.

  • Trachtenberg, M. 2006. The Craft of International History – a guide to method. Princeton and Oxford: PUP.


Students can sign up to the class via uSis