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Thesis Seminar Parties, Parliaments and Democracy - Spring 2020


General Introduction Meeting

On Wednesday 4 December 2019, 13:15-15:00 in room SA41 there will be a general introduction meeting in which the instructors will explain and discuss the general thesis seminar procedures and expectations and students can ask questions about the thesis seminars.


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.

Course Objectives

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.

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 16 December 10.00h until 22 December 23.59h. Placement is on a first come first served basis and subject to availability.

Registration is open for students that started their Master in one of the Political Science specialisations, in September 2019. 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.

Theme 01: Democracy, Political Parties and the Challenges of Representation - Nagtzaam (act. code: 16243)

Representative democracy in the twenty-first century is challenged from many angles. Observers point to a decline in political trust, the erosion of political parties and increasing electoral volatility. Moreover, we now live in an era where extreme populist parties have gained significant ground in everyday party politics, and in some countries are starting to become ‘the norm’. With this development come many questions about representative democracies and the role of political parties in it. Furthermore, what we observe happens not just at the national level, but also at the international stage. Supranational cooperation is argued to limit democratic choice at home. To what extent can we find support for these observations: is the representative system really under pressure? How has it changed and evolved and how can we deal with all these changes? Are politics done the same way by all parties, in all countries or are they bound to specific conditions, which we can infer? What are the explanations and the consequences of the changes we observe?

Possible themes for thesis projects include:
1. Intra-party democracy
2. Political trust and satisfaction with democracy
3. The populist challenge to party politics
4. Direct democracy and institutional reform

Students are welcome, but not obliged, to use the Netherlands as one of their cases in a comparative study.