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Thematic Seminar: Global Protest Movements


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 25.


The 2010s saw a rapid spread of a variety of large protest movements such as Occupy, the Arab Spring, Gezi Park, the Umbrella Movement and los Indignados. In this elective, students will explore a wide range of scholarship on the demands, organization and expressions of dissent within these movements. The readings are organized around three main approaches. Firstly, we will be looking at social movement theory which largely focuses on the organization of social dissent. Secondly, we will be looking at critical theory on space, bodies and the politics of occupation and street protests. Lastly, we will explore cultural representations, analysing news media as well as revolutionary aesthetics in order to question the politics of how protests have been given meaning and value in local and global cultures.

The following two questions will guide us through this research project:

  • What do various protest movements that emerged across the globe in the 2010s have in common across the political and cultural specificities of each case?

  • What sets (some of) these new protest movements apart from other historical episodes of dissent?

Additionally, the students will work through:

  • W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The Thematic Seminars for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the multidisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral and written presentation skills:

1. To explain clear and substantiated research results.
2. To provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course:

  • in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;

  • in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;

  • using up-to-date presentation techniques;

  • using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;

  • aimed at a specific audience.
    3. To actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:

1. To be socio-communicative in collaborative situations.
2. To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position.
3. To adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

1. To collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques.
2. To analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability.
3. To formulate on this basis a sound research question.
4. To design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved.
5. To formulate a substantiated conclusion.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the Midterm Exam week. This includes supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), which equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending seminars (2 hours per week x 12): 24 hours

  • Studying compulsory literature: 48 hours

  • Preparing logbook and midterm research: 84 hours

  • Writing the final research essay: 124 hours

Assignment overview

Logbook (6 x 200 words)

For each session, students are required to reflect on a set of reading questions. The questions are designed in such a way as to engage more critically or in-depth with the assigned readings, or to stimulate students to apply the theoretical material beyond the case study at hand. For every two sessions, you develop one reading question more fully. Bring your answers to class in print or on screen, so as to share your findings with fellow students. At the end of the course, you submit the full logbook with all entries to Blackboard.

Midterm assignment (750 words)

For the midterm assignment, you execute a practical research project which you can use for your final paper. You have two options, qualitative ethnography or a creative project. Two weeks in advance you submit a research plan. The plan has to be approved by the lecturer.

1. Qualitative ethnography

For this option you need to develop a clear and limited research question that follows from existing scholarly literature. Design a questionnaire and execute at least three longer interviews or a survey with a minimum of ten respondents of a chosen case study. If feasible, participant observation may also be part of this research project. For the midterm assignment you submit both the research materials (questionnaire) and a brief but smoothly written report of your findings. Do the data help you to answer your research question(s)? Have you come across striking or surprising results that you had not anticipated? Also reflect on the limitations of your project. What can you do for the final essay to improve the questionnaire, the interview set-up, or the data processing?

2. Creative project

For this option, you need to develop a conceptual framework that follows from existing scholarly literature. Now, make a work of art building upon your concept(s). This can be video, creative writing, painting, installation, performance or any other creative discipline. The art work should engage with, or be expressive of protest, dissent or revolution. You will not be evaluated based on artistic skills, but on the way in which you are able to theoretically reflect upon your work in a 750-words reflection.

Final essay (5,000 words)

Select a case study and develop an argument based on concepts or theories discussed in class. The essay may build upon the midterm assignment, but students are free to select a different theoretical approach or case instead.

Assessment method

Assessment and Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
Logbook 25%
Midterm: Practice Based Research 25%
Final Research Essay (5,000 words) 50%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components.


Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the Final Essay on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the Final Essay.
In case of resubmission of the Final Essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the Essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the Final Essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2018 – 2019.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for the seminars. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

Readings will be provided in class or announced on Blackboard.

Additionally, the students will work through:

  • W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.


  • Enrolment through uSis for Thematic Seminars is mandatory.

  • The Thematic Seminars make use of a waiting list for the enrolment in uSis. If you are on the waiting list for a Thematic Seminar, this does not guarantee you a spot in this Seminar.

  • Enrolment in only one Seminar is allowed. Students are more than welcome to remain on one or more waiting lists, as well as an actual enrolment.

  • If a Thematic Seminar and its corresponding waiting list is no longer available for enrolment in uSis, this means it is full. Do not try to obtain a spot through other means.

  • If you are unsure of your enrolment status for a Thematic Seminar, please contact the BAIS Administration Department.

  • General information about uSis is available here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. J.A. Naeff

When contacting your lecturer, please include your full name, student number, and course title.


The deadline for submission of the Final Essay is Friday 7 June 2019.