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Thesis Seminar International Politics - Spring 2018



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


Students choose (one of) the thesis seminar(s) offered within their specialisation. 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 Wednesday 6 December 2017 there will be a general introduction meeting from 15.00-17.00h in room SA41, in which the instructors will explain and discuss the general thesis seminar procedures and expectations and students can ask questions about the thesis seminars.

Theme 01: International Organizations - Hirschmann (act. code 10496)

This thesis seminar focuses on the the role of international organizations in world politics, with a view on current and past challenges. Substantive input will be provided on the theoretical debates about the influence of IOs, their effectiveness and legitimacy. Methodological input will focus on qualitative research design, such as controlled comparison or process-tracing. Empirically, this seminar invites thesis proposals that cover diverse issues and various organizations not restricted to any issue area.

Theme 02: Political Economy of Development and Democracy in the Global South - Nem Singh (act. code 11028)

The seminar focusses on the structures, institutions and political agency that shape how ‘development works’. In a changing world economy, development paradigms are being questioned, new actors in development processes emerging, and questions around poverty, inequality, and social injustice remain central to development discourses. Substantive input will be offered to cover the range of conceptual and methodological debates in development studies and area studies. The topics to cover will take a political economy approach, which emphasizes the interdependence of economic and political factors in explaining the social world.

Some possible projects include: (1) the role of international institutions and global norms that open up (or constrain) possibilities for autonomous development, for example the World Bank, IMF and other international initiatives; (2) comparative and historical evidence as regards long-run economic performance of East and Southeast Asia as well as Latin America; (3) good governance, neoliberalism, and development assistance; (4) politics of poverty reduction and inequality; (5) natural resource politics and governance; (6) the role of non-state actors in shaping international development, notably social movements, civil society, and transnational advocacy networks; and (7) private regulatory governance and role of corporate power in world politics.

Theme 03: Deterrence and Compellence in International Politics - Pellikaan (act. code 17550)

In the New Year’s Day address of 2017 Kim Jong Un announced that North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests and it is in the last stage of preparations to test-fire an inter-continental ballistic missile (The Sydney Morning Herald, January 2 2017). The nuclear capability of North Korea in combination with the intercontinental ballistic missiles implies that we have entered a ‘new era of deterrence’ in international politics (Sung Chull Kim and Michael D. Cohen ed. 2017). The thesis seminar starts in the first weeks with the inquiry of the study of the new era of deterrence. The topic of deterrence or compellence can be analyzed with the help of game theory (in which case one should follow the seminar Applied Game Theory in the third block), but game theory is not the only way to study deterrence and compellence in international politics. For example Paul, Morgan and Wirtz study the complex aspects of deterrence from a different perspective and they are very critical toward the rational choice approach (Paul, Morgan and Wirtz 2009). Each student can choose a specific example of deterrence or compellence for the thesis.
Required reading for all students
Sung Chull Kim and Michael Cohen ed., North Korea and Nuclear Weapons. Entering the new era of deterrence. Georgetown University Press 2017.
T.V. Paul, Patrick M. Morgan, and James J. Wirtz, Complex Deterrence. Strategy in the Global Age. University of Chicago Press 2009.

Additional Information

Please note that for some seminars there will be no additional substantive readings than the ones discussed in the courses they build on.


Registration in uSis for one thesis seminar is possible from Monday 18 December 2017 10.00 hrs until 28 December 10.00 hrs. Placement is on a first come first served basis and subject to availability. If more than 12 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 one of the Political Science specialisations, in September 2017. All other students should contact the exam committee to request permission to take this thesis seminar. Students can take the thesis seminar only once in their academic year.


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 8.000 and 10.000 words, 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.

Time Table MSc Thesis Seminar Spring semester 2017/2018