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Thesis Seminar MSc Political Science



Objective: 1. To deepen the understanding of theories and methods related to research on a specific subfield of Political Science.
Objective: 2. Applying them to a specific topic as part of the student’s master thesis project.

Content: Students choose one of the thesis seminars on conflict and cooperation (see short descriptions below). 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 Blackboard.

General Introduction Meeting

On Thursday 4 December between 12.00-13.00 hrs in SA41 the instructors will present their thesis seminar topics and explain what is expected of the students. Students can ask questions about the thesis seminars.

Thesis Seminars

1. Human Rights and Intervention
This thesis seminar which is taught by Theresa Reinold addresses the complex relationship between human rights and intervention. Intervention on behalf of vulnerable populations can comprise a variety of measures – ranging from mediation and good offices to law-enforcement, economic sanctions, and the use of military force as a last resort. In this course we will address the normative/legal foundations of human rights and intervention, as well as analyze the impact of different intervention strategies adopted by a broad range of external actors – (coalitions of) states, international organizations, and non-state actors – on the enjoyment of human rights. Qualitative case studies and conceptual pieces are welcome.

2. Case Studies in Foreign Policy Analysis
The thesis seminar of Nicolas Blarel focuses on research questions opening the black box of domestic politics and policymaking in an effort to understand states’ choices in international politics. In the last two decades, issues that were once considered as the exclusive preserve of ‘domestic’ politics have now crossed territorial borders to become precursors of ‘international’ politics. Consequently, a traditional state-centric approach to explain discrete foreign policy decisions is no longer acceptable, if it ever was. Any complete understanding of international politics requires a movement along the traditional levels of analysis to incorporate an assessment of the multi-causal and multi-step dynamics that shape foreign policy-making. In this seminar, students are encouraged to make use of existing conceptual approaches to explain particular foreign policy decisions.

3. Political Communication, Public Opinion, and Political Behavior
The seminar of Michael Meffert focuses on topics related to public opinion and political behavior. This includes but is not limited to different forms of political participation such as electoral behavior as well as media effects on political attitudes and individual behavior. Students are encouraged to answer their research questions by collecting their own data using surveys, experiments, and/or content analyses but might also conduct secondary analyses using existing data sources. The maximum number of participants for this seminar is 8 students.

4. Critical Approaches in International Relations
The thesis seminar of Francesco Ragazzi is open to students who want to develop empirical research grounded in linguistic, marxist, constructivist, post-structuralist, feminist or post-colonial approaches in International Relations. The range of topics is not pre-determined, as long as the student is interested in developing research within one of the reflexive approaches in IR. Purely theoretical theses will not be accepted. The research needs to be grounded in a clear empirical research question and make use of qualitative or quantitative research methods. Possible themes, among others: securitization of migration and border control, digital mass surveillance, datafication of security, security-development nexus, technology and the transformations of warfare, privatisation of security, terrorism and counter-terrorism.

5. The Philosophy of Inequality
The seminar of Nicholas Vrousalis focuses on philosophical aspects of the problem of equality. We live in a world of extreme opulence and abject poverty. How is the coexistence of these extremes possible? How is such inequality to be measured? Should we try to counteract it? If so, what sorts of institutions do we need? Essays may take a purely theoretical angle (e.g. negotiate the nature of inequality in connection with some theory of justice, or with recent debates on the quantification and measurement of disadvantage), or bring the discussion in political philosophy to bear on relevant debates in social theory (e.g. the burgeoning literature on exploitation, global justice and imperialism). Students are advised to pick this seminar only if they have some background in philosophy or social/political theory.


Registration in uSis for one thesis seminar is possible from Thursday 11 December 12.00 hrs until Thursday 18 December 12.00 hrs. Placement is on a first come first served basis and subject to availability. If more than 15 students prefer to be in a thesis seminar students will be placed on a waiting list.
Registration is open for students that started their Master in Political Science in September 2014. All other students should contact the exam committee to request permission to take this thesis seminar.


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 16.000 and 20.000, including tables, footnotes and bibliography. The thesis evaluation form with the evaluation criteria will be published on Blackboard.

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.


Research proposal: Monday 16 March,12.00 pm
Complete draft Master Thesis: Monday 11 May,12.00 pm
Final version Master Thesis: Monday 8 June, 12.00 pm


1. Human Rights and Intervention – Reinold
Monday 2 February until 18 May,13.00-15.00 hrs in SA15 * (except 9 February in SA29, 16 March in 1A24, 11 May in 1A24, 18 May in 1A45)
Wednesday 4 February until 25 March, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 2B36
Wednesday 1 April until 20 May, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 2B22 *no class on 6 and 27 of April

2. Case Studies in Foreign Policy Analysis – Blarel
Monday 2 February until 13 April, 11.00-13.00 hrs in SA31
Wednesday 4 February until 15 April, 11.00-13.00 hrs in SA15 *no class on 6 April

3. Political Communication, Public Opinion, and Political Behavior – Meffert
Monday 2 February until 2 March, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 2B36
Monday 23 March and 20 April, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 2B36
Wednesday 4 February until 4 March, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 1A03
Wednesday 22 April, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 2A36

4. Critical Approaches in International Relations – Ragazzi
Monday 2 February until 18 May, 15.00-17.00 hrs in 2B22 * (except 23 March in 5B14, 20 April in 2A36)
Wednesday 4 February until 20 May, 11.00-13.00 hrs in 2B36 *no class on 6 and 27 of April

5. The Philosophy of Inequality – Vrousalis
Monday 2 February until 18 May, 15.00-17.00 hrs in 2B36 * (except 23 March in 1A24 and 20 april 1A11)
Wednesday 4 February until 20 May, 15.00-17.00 hrs in SA15 *no class on 6 and 27 of April