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Bachelor Project IBO 2019-2020


Admission Requirements

Participation in the Bachelor's Project is only permitted if the propaedeutic phase has been passed and at least 40 ECts of the second year have been obtained, including the course Research Methods in Political Science. The successful completion of the Academic Skills course: Research Design is also an entry requirement for the Bachelor Project.

Transitory Regulation

Students who have not passed their Bachelor Project in 2018 - 2019 (15 ECts) need to take a Bachelor Project new style (20 ECts).

Bachelor Project Information meetings Leiden

De information meetings on the Bachelor Projects are scheduled:
Semester I: Wednesday 15 May 2019, 09:15-11:00 in room 1A20.
Semester II: Wednesday 27 November 2019, 09.15 - 11.00 in room 1A20.

Registration for Bachelor Project

Enrollment Bachelor Project
Enrollment in uSis is possible according the following scheme:
Block I & II: Monday 15 July 2019, 10:00 - Sunday 21 July 2019, 23:59h
Block II & III: Monday 15 July 2019, 10:00 - Sunday 21 July 2019, 23:59h
Enrollment is on a first come first serve base; be sure to enroll in time!.

Block III & IV: Instead of a registration for the Bachelor Project in uSis, you will be able to rank your preferences in an online form in the period 9-15 December 2019.

Important dates:
27-11-2019 Information meeting Bachelor Projects
09-12-2019 t/m 15-12-2019 Provide ranking of the Projects in order of preference via online form
13-01-2020 t/m 17-01-2020 Announcement of Project placement
Per 03-02-2020 Start of Bachelor Project


Goal 1: Learning to apply concepts, theories and methods in a research project that fits within a framework that has been formulated by the teacher in advance;
Goal 2: Conducting, and reporting on, a limited empirical or literature study.
Content: The bachelor project is a course that offers substantive instruction, followed by a research part within which students carry out an individual study. Various projects are offered that are structured around different themes. Students first follow substantive instruction for a number of weeks in which they deepen their knowledge of a specific subject within a subfield of political science. After that, students learn to formulate a research question, to design research to answer that question, to conduct their own research, and to report correctly and clearly on that research.
The final report - the Bachelor's thesis - completes the Bachelor's degree in Political Science. The thesis is an individual final paper based on at least partly on the student’s own, original research.

Bachelor Project themes

Semester 1:

01: Deterrence and Compellence in International Politics - Pellikaan (activiteit nr. 2475)
De politiek van afschrikking heeft twee componenten: (1) defensieve afschrikking (deterrence) is er op gericht om een tegenstander af te schrikken om aan te vallen. De theorie van defensieve afschrikking (deterrence) wordt vooral gebruikt in gevallen van nucleaire afschrikking en het handhaven van de status quo; (2) offensieve afschrikking (compellence) is er op gericht om de status quo te wijzigen door dreigen met militair geweld.
Er zijn verschillende benaderingen in het bestuderen van afschrikking in de internationale politiek. Het project start met een literatuurstudie van deze verschillende benaderingen ten aanzien van een bipolaire wereld en een multipolaire wereld. Voor de bestudering van de nucleaire afschrikking van de twee grootmachten tijdens de koude oorlog in een bipolaire wereld wordt vaak de speltheorie als methode van analyse gebruikt. Daarnaast wordt voor cases van conventionele afschrikking van staten in een multipolaire wereld (1) de historische methode van Alexander George gebruikt (The Method of Structured, Focused Comparison) of (2) de kwantitatieve benadering van Paul Huth (The Extended Deterrence cases).
Studenten worden geacht een scriptie te schrijven over afschrikking en men dient op basis van de bestudering van de literatuur een keuze te maken tussen (1) een comparatief onderzoek waarin een klein aantal cases van afschrikking (deterrence) worden bestudeerd en (2) een empirisch onderzoek waarin een groot aantal cases van afschrikking (deterrence of compellence) worden onderzocht met behulp van een statistische methode.

02: Political Psychology in International Relations - Bakker/van Willigen (activiteit nr. 10138)
This bachelor project introduces you to a selection of political psychological theories that can be applied to the analysis of international relations and foreign policy. The field of international relations relies heavily on structural theories, in which the role and behavior of individuals are generally considered to be a constant factor. The field of political psychology has an actor-centric perspective that offers a different perspective on the study of international relations and foreign policy. Effectively, this means that you are expected to take on a relatively new perspective on IR, since you have mainly been introduced into the structural theories of IR.

This project offers a selection of political psychological approaches that can be used to study international relations and foreign policy, such as the studying of microfoundations of structural IR theories, and the behavioral traits, belief systems, and personality of political leaders. Expect the first six weeks to read a lot of literature, and moreover, to think about, reflect upon and write about this literature. Moreover, you will be introduced to methods to conduct political psychological research, including a core instrument of political psychology: experiments. Please note, therefore, that in order to follow this BAP it is of importance not to shy away from using quantitative data analysis.

Based on the substantive readings during the first six weeks, you are expected to develop and pursue your own specific research question, find and review more and relevant literature to design your research, and to collect and analyze data to answer your research question.

The thesis can be written in English or in Dutch. I prefer you choose the language in which you can express yourself most clearly.

Semester 2:

03: Small States in World Politics - Veenendaal (class nr 9977)
Existing academic studies of international relations (IR) primarily focus on a handful of large powers like the United States, China, Russia, and India. In classical IR theories, small states are mostly regarded as objects in world politics, which cannot have a meaningful independent impact on international affairs. Being limited in in population size, territory, natural resources, and military capabilities, small states are seen as vulnerable and weak, and their survival permanently dependent on the goodwill of larger countries.
But if this is the case, how can we explain the economic influence of small countries like Luxembourg and Singapore? How can it be that a country like Qatar is not only able to host the FIFA World Cup, but also to sponsor Islamic insurgency groups throughout the Middle East? How do countries like Estonia, Georgia, and Moldova deal with mounting Russian assertiveness in central and eastern Europe? Why have Cyprus and Malta recovered so fast from the global economic crisis, while larger Mediterranean countries continue to face economic stagnation? What role do Caribbean countries play in transnational drugs trafficking networks, and how have tiny Pacific island states succeeded in putting climate change and rising sea levels on the agenda of the United Nations? As these questions demonstrate, the position of small states in global politics is not as insignificant as scholars have generally assumed. Small countries certainly can play an important role in international affairs, and many small states make creative use of their sovereignty to compensate for their relative weakness in the international system.
In this bachelor project, students will study the foreign policies and international relations of either one or a limited number of small states with less than 1,5 million inhabitants (there are 46 of them in total). In the substantive part of the course, we will first pay attention to the views of the mainstream IR theories on small states. Subsequently, we will discuss more specific literature on the international security, economic development, and foreign policies of small states, as well as the participation of small states in international organizations. In the second part of the course, students will focus on writing their individual bachelor’s thesis. Students are free to choose any particular focus of their project, and bachelor theses could for example focus on small state foreign policy, small state behavior in international organizations, domestic determinants of small state foreign policy, or economic development strategies and (international) economic policies of small states. While single-case or small-N comparative research designs are most practicable, students are also free to choose a quantitative or mixed methods design if they desire so.

04: International Events and Political Change - van Dooremalen (class nr 9978)
Occurrences as diverse as 9/11, the Arab Spring, or the election of Donald Trump have one thing in common. They are all cases of international events: occurrences that are considered to be so remarkable, exciting or shocking that they might result in substantial political changes in many locations across the globe. Whereas such changes usually come about in a fairly gradual way, events bring about the possibility for swift transformations.
The phenomenon of events offers us various intriguing research puzzles. How can it be that changes happen as the result of one individual occurrence? Which factors – e.g. the location of their occurrence or the authoritative power of politicians – determine the transformative responses to events? To what extent do we attribute changes to them, which are actually the result of long-term political, economic, or cultural processes?
In this bachelor project, we will focus on these event-related questions. Students may choose a thesis topic from a variety of event cases: from natural disasters to terrorist attacks, and from revolutions to political murders. They may also use differing research methods and data to study them, such as statistical investigations of surveys, quantitative content analysis of newspaper articles, or qualitative discourse analysis of political speeches and policy documents.

Suggested literature:
Sewell, W.H. (1996). “Historical events as transformations of structures: Inventing revolution at the Bastille”, Theory and Society, 25(6), pp. 841 – 881.
Wagner-Pacifici, R. and Tavory, T. (2019). "Politics as a Vacation." In: Mast, L. & Alexander, J. Politics of Meaning/Meaning of Politics. Cham (Switzerland): Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 19-34.

05: Democratization Processes in Contemporary Africa - Demarest (class nr 9979)
In most Sub-Saharan African countries, the optimism that followed the early years of independence quickly turned to pessimism in the face of economic crises and the tightening grip of authoritarian leaders on political and civil rights. In the early 1990s, however, the winds of change appeared to alter the face of the continent and many countries reintroduced multiparty democracy. Over time, several countries have been able to transition to stable democracies (e.g. Ghana, Benin, Senegal), but others continue to experience authoritarian rule and setbacks (e.g. coups). Moreover, civil war and political violence have not declined since the 1990s and democratization processes risk fueling violence as well (e.g. electoral violence). Finally, while democratization has not appeared to bring a ‘peace dividend’, the same can be said with regard to economic development as African governments have not been able to bring their economies on stable growth paths.
This Bachelor project seminar focuses on democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa and two overarching research questions: 1. Why do some countries democratize successfully while others do not, and 2. What are the advantages brought by democracy for the improvement of African lives? During the first part of the course students will gain insight in the political and economic histories and characteristics of African countries, as well as key actors in African politics (e.g. elites, parties, civil society, international community etc.). They will also be acquainted with foundational texts in this field. During the second part of the course, students will formulate their research questions within the overarching framework of the seminar, develop their research designs, and conduct their own empirical research. To assist in their research, students are introduced to the Afrobarometer public opinion surveys. Other data sources covered include Freedom House, Polity IV, World Development Indicators, the UCDP conflict datasets, and the AllAfrica.com news archives. Students can make use of quantitative as well as qualitative research methods.

06: Agenda Setting and Policy Making in the European Union - Elias Carrillo (class nr 9980)
The European Union (EU) is a complex political system. Its setup includes 28 members states with different interests and ideas on what issues to attend and how to do so. The roles of its political institutions are not clearly separated and many are shared. How are then policies created in the EU? In this course we will study the policy-making process in this system and more specifically agenda setting. Some of the questions that we will address are: how does the EU deal with policy problems? Who participates? How do issues arrive on the agenda? Why do EU policy makers devote attention to some issues and ignore others? Can the EU deal with all sorts of problems to begin with?
We will discuss relevant analytical approaches to better understand the European Union. We will examine general characteristics of policy making and then focus on agenda setting. We will study theoretical perspectives, concepts and classic literature on the topic. We will identify main features of this policy stage, such as key actors and driving factors. We will also examine empirical work on agenda setting dynamics in different policy domains. All in all, in the first part of the course we will learn how the EU determines its priorities, by studying ‘what’ (issues come on the agenda), ‘how’ (issues enter it), ‘who’ (takes them up) and why. In the second part, students will write an individual thesis related to a theme on agenda setting, as identified in the previous part. Research methods can be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed. The thesis must be written in English

This Bachelor Project is open for both IBO- and IRO-students:
14: Media and Public Opinion in International Relations - Meffert
Events, crises, conflicts, and decisions in international relations are not just the domain of governments and other national and international institutions and organizations but also depend on public support and the discussion in the public sphere. Public opinion reflects the values, preferences, and experiences of citizens but is also shaped by international events, developments, crises, and the actions and messages of political actors. Public opinion can, of course, also affect political decisions and official policies. The interplay between political elites and decision makers and the mass public depends to a substantial degree on mass (and social) media which constitute a public forum where information and opinions about international events and affairs are exchanged. This raises a number of different questions such as:

  • At the most basic level, what do people really know about international affairs and other countries?

  • Do citizens in different countries or political regimes hold different values, and how do these values shape political attitudes?

  • What other factors shape people’s opinions about other countries, treaties, or military missions? For example, does the public fall in line and support the government during national crises (the “rally ‘round the flag” phenomenon)?

  • How does the media cover and portray (or frame) international events, developments, and political decisions?

  • Do political leaders shape and dominate the media coverage of international affairs, or does the media play a more active role as a powerful gatekeeper?

  • Last but not least, how has the increasingly prominent role of social media affected international affairs, from using them as a tool for public diplomacy to facilitating political protest (such as the Arab Spring)?

In the first part of the course (Block 3), selected topics and core concepts related to these questions will be covered and discussed in a seminar format. For each topic, students are expected to read and actively discuss important literature and to complete several short and two longer written assignments. In the second part of the course (Block 4), students will work on their individual research projects and write their bachelor thesis. Students are expected to develop and pursue their own specific research questions, review relevant literature, and collect and use qualitative or quantitative evidence to answer them (which might take the form of - but is not limited to - an original content analysis or a secondary analysis of existing survey data). With a few exceptions, course meetings will largely be replaced by individual supervision and feedback.

Mode of Instruction

Workgroup meetings, walk-in meetings, library instruction, and above all self-study.

Library Instruction

On BB you will find more information on the digital module 'Library Instruction'.

Study materials

Halperin, S. & Heath, O. (2017). Political research: Methods and practical skills. Oxford: Oxford University Press is assumed to be known. The core literature can be found on the blackboard page of the Bachelor's project. Further information about the bachelor project and the subprojects will also be available there.

Assessment Method

Block 1: Substantive part (weeks 1-6, 40% of the BAP grade), rounded to 0ne decimal and passed with a 5,5 or higher
Block 2: Research part (weeks 7-16, 60% of the BAP grade), rounded to whole and half numbers and passed with a 6,0 or higher

Final product:

Thesis/Scriptie: between 7000-8000 words, exl. references; a research project that addresses a research question and can be answered with individual (original or literature – based) research within the appropriate tradition of the sub-discipline.
Deadline: week 16 (week 8 of the second block).

Students either pass or fail the entire Bachelor Project (16 weeks), worth 20 ECts. Students need to pass both parts of the BAP in order to receive the ECts.

Leiden thesis repository

Approved theses are stored in the Student Repository of the Leiden Repository after completion of the Bachelor Project. Students will have to sign a statement for this. Read more