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Thesis and thesis seminar South and South-East Asia B, sem 1


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies who have succesfully completed the second year elective course.
The student writes the thesis in the area of specialization.
The number of participants is limited to 6.


For this seminar, the theme will be stories (narrative). Your thesis can be in any field of the humanities and humanistic social sciences with regard to Southeast Asia, from history through religion to culture and society, but to ensure a shared focus and coherence among all thesis projects in this course, the central research question should address one or more stories or the story-like aspects of a particular topic or issue. Some random examples are:

  • How plans for the economic development of a state, region, or village in Southeast Asia are structured as a story (heading from a defective present towards a desired future);

  • How a particular individual (an ordinary person or public figure) regards his or her own life or identity as a story, or how others see him or her from such a perspective;

  • How commercials for certain products in a part of Southeast Asia are (and are not) structured as stories. * The roles that myths or historical narratives play in some cultural, political, or religous context.

There are many other possibilities. Stories and story-structures feature in all fields of culture, religion, politics, and society, and in people’s individual lives as well. Many interesting issues (suitable for a BA thesis) can be formulated around the notion of story (narrative).

Building on earlier exercises in essay-writing, in particular the essay for the second year’s elective course, a bachelor’s thesis is the finishing paper of the program. It is a research paper of 10,000 words (10% more or less), which to a considerable extent is the result of research and writing that is independently done.

Collective supervision is provided in thesis seminars. The aim of the thesis seminar is to guide students through the process of designing a research question; collecting literature, sources, data, and other materials that are necessary for answering the question; bringing logic and persuasive order in the material and in the arguments supported by it; and designing appropriate research methods.

Assignments within the seminar include designing a research question and plan, writing a literature review (3-4,000 words), and presenting one’s research.

Attending a seminar is mandatory; no thesis can be submitted that has not been written in the context of a thesis seminar.

Apart from collective supervision, students will receive individual supervision, specifically focused on the subject of their research. The thesis seminar leader is also the one who provides this individual supervision. Students will have four individual meetings with their supervisor during the semester.

Each seminar will be devoted to one of the geographical areas covered by International Studies. Most seminar leaders will have expertise on political and economic subjects. For some larger areas, there will also be a limited number of seminars where stronger emphasis is laid on language, history, culture, religion, and society.

The exact set-up of the seminars may vary somewhat, due to the nature of the area, the number of seminars taught for each area, and the didactic preferences of the seminar leader. In particular, a number of seminars will have a theme to lend focus to the class discussions, and provide extra guidance for students to decide on their research topic.

Course objectives

Based, and further elaborating on the knowledge and skills acquired, students will prove themselves to be able to:

  • work with research techniques that are current in the discipline(s) applied by them;

  • comprehend sophisticated academic debates;

  • report on their studies and research in good written English;

  • work and write under time-pressure, and deal with deadlines.

  • report on their studies and research in good spoken English;

  • participate in debates in an active, prepared and informed way, respecting other people’s convictions and emotions;

  • understand fundamental cultural differences and divisions.

The general academic skills covered by these aims are:

  • collect and select specialised literature using traditional and electronic methods and techniques;

  • analyse and evaluate this in terms of quality and reliability;

  • formulate a well-defined research problem based on this;

  • set up, under supervision, a study of limited size, taking into consideration the traditional and electronic methods and techniques relevant for the discipline;

  • formulate a reasoned conclusion on the basis of this;

  • explain research findings in a clear and well-argued way, both orally and in writing.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Six seminar meetings of two hours, spread over semester; four individual meetings with supervisor (half an hour on average).

Course Load

Attendance: 14 hrs.
Presentation: 8 hrs.
Literature review: 100 hrs.
Independent study and writing: 298
Total: 420 hrs.

Assessment method

Assessment and Weighing


  • 25% (5% active participation;

  • 5% research question;

  • 15% literature review [3,000-4,000 words]).

Thesis (10,000 words, excluding footnotes and bibliography): 75%
To pass the thesis seminar, the thesis grade has to be 5.5 at least.


In case of resubmission of the thesis (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the thesis will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 days after receiving the grade for thesis.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

The readings will be announced in due course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof. Dr. B. Arps


No thesis can be submitted that has not been written in the context of a thesis seminar.
There are four important due dates during the seminar: in the Fall semester, student are to submit a research question in week 40; a literature review in week 43; a draft version of the thesis in week 48; and the definitive version in week 1 of January, 2017.
The due dates are not negotiable.

Since both the number of individual meetings with the supervisor, and their duration is limited, it is important that students go to them well-prepared.