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Bachelor Project IRO 2019 - 2020


Admission Requirements

Participation in the Bachelor's Project is only permitted if the propaedeutic phase has been passed and at least 40 ECs 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.

Bachelor Project Information Meetings The Hague

Semester I: Tuesday 14 May 2019, from 15.00-17.00 in room Wijnhaven 2.01.
Semester II: Wednesday 27 November 2019, from 13:00-15:00 in Schouwburgstraat, room A.006

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
Block III & IV: Monday 9 December 2019, 10.00h - Sunday 15 December 2019, 23.59h
Enrollment is on a first come first serve base; be sure to enroll in time!.


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 the student’s own, original research.

Bachelor Project themes

Block I & II

1. Justice in a Globalised World - Verschoor (act. nr: 4229)
The idea of justice occupies a central place both in our daily lives and in political philosophy. We apply it to actions of individuals and groups as well as to laws and public policies. When confronted with unjust actions, laws or policies, we take this to be a strong reason to reject them. Generally speaking, a situation can be called “just” if everyone involved in it has received “their due”. This means that the study of justice is essentially concerned with the following normative question: What do we owe to each other?

For a long time, political philosophers considered it to be their “core business” to develop plausible principles of justice. As such, they focused primarily on the question “What is owed?” and ignored the (equally important) question “Who belong to the group of individuals who owe justice to each other?”. In fact, they simply took it for granted that the notion of justice – stipulating what is owed – applies to the domestic sphere only. If justice requires that individuals be treated as equals in some respect (for instance, by according them equal welfare, opportunities, resources, or capabilities), then surely, many assumed uncritically, the scope of this requirement is limited to the domestic context. According to this statist view, justice is something that co-nationals, i.e. citizens belonging to the same state, owe to each other. It is, however, not something that co-nationals owe to foreigners.

Recently, however, political philosophers have started to wonder whether the notion of justice could – or, to put it more strongly, should – also be invoked at the international, and perhaps even global, level. They raise this question because they have come to realise that the assumption of the statist view – the idea of a world divided into independent states – is a fantasy. Even if there ever existed a world of independent states, then, or so they claim, it certainly no longer exists nowadays. Instead, we live in an age of globalisation; an age in which states and individuals are becoming increasingly more interdependent. As (former and the late) UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said: “The world truly shares a common fate.” What makes our world one of “overlapping communities of fate” are the shared problems and challenges we face in our globalising age. During the last fifty years we witnessed an enormous increase in transboundary problems, such as climate change, economic crises, immigration flows, epidemics, terrorism, and other violent political conflicts. Indeed, as Kant in his Perpetual Peace already noticed, “the peoples of the earth have thus entered in varying degrees into a universal community, and it has developed to the point where a violation of rights in one part of the world is felt everywhere.”

These observations have led many political philosophers to reject the statist view of justice and instead embrace a cosmopolitan view. Given that human beings affect each other’s lives on an unprecedented scale, it makes no sense to limit the scope of justice to the domestic sphere of a set of independent states. Instead, principles of justice ought to be applied globally. Others, however, think that the effects of globalisation are exaggerated or otherwise morally insignificant and therefore do not change the scope of justice. Consequently, they remain committed to their statist view.

In this bachelorproject students explore the relationship between globalisation and the scope of justice. In the first phase of the project, students analyse the main statist and cosmopolitan views as well as various aspects of the academic debate on the scope of justice in a globalised world. In the second phase, students develop a philosophical perspective connected to one of the aspects of the academic debate on justice in a globalised world discussed in the first phase of the project.

2. Political Behaviour: Can we trust Democracy to the Voters? - Robison (act. nr: 4230)
When politicians adopt a new electoral strategy or propose a new foreign or domestic policy they likely have some image in mind of what the public wants or how it will react. If these beliefs are correct, then electoral rewards may follow. If they are not, then governments may fall. But, where do the public’s preferences come from in the first place? And, how ‘good’ are they? Answering these questions is politically important as they touch upon broader questions of why elections turn out the way they do, why parties and politicians take some actions rather than others, and ultimately the types of domestic and international policies likely to be put into effect.

Political scientists have been trying to answer these questions for the past century (if not longer!). This course will introduce you to some of the core theories and ongoing debates about the nature, and quality, of public attitudes. In so doing, it will prepare you not just to write your own BA thesis, but also to better understand your own attitudes and those of the people around you. It will also provide you with a deeper understanding of electoral debates and the behavior of politicians and political parties. Finally, we will discuss research methods increasingly used in the private and public sector, such as surveys and experiments.

The substantive portion of the course is broadly divided into four sub-sections.

The first sub-section focuses on providing you with a conceptual and theoretical grounding to interrogate the more specific questions we’ll deal with as well as for thinking through your own ideas for the BA thesis. In our first class we will discuss the question of democratic competence – what does it mean to be a ‘competent’ or good citizen? We will then cover fundamental theories for why people believe what they believe and act the way they act. We will consider the roles of socialization (in families and schools), identities, and material interests in particular.

In the second section we will consider the role of ‘principles’ in democratic politics, i.e. people’s ideologies, their values, and their moral beliefs. Here we will consider questions such as: what is the nature of ideology and where does it come from?; do people even have stable beliefs about what should be done politically?; and: does it matter if they do not?

In the third section we will consider the role of information and knowledge in political decision making. Many people in democratic societies are not interested about politics and learn little about it, perhaps particularly when it comes to foreign policy. Does that call into question the wisdom or quality of their resulting vote choices or policy attitudes? Does it mean that politicians and parties can do whatever they want in the domestic and international arena because the public cannot hold them accountable? Or, can the public still choose wisely regardless?

The final portion of the course focuses on the role of political parties and leaders. These actors structure political choice in democratic societies. Some argue that parties provide the public with a way to overcome their limited information about politics. Others are more pessimistic, arguing that partisan attachments bias how people think about politics. In this section we’ll consider the role of parties and, in so doing, the conditions under which people adopt misinformed beliefs about politics (including the belief in conspiracy theories).

In the second part of the course, students will write a Bachelor dissertation of about 7,000-8,000 words. The Bachelor dissertation is an individual piece of work for which you will delineate your own research question, concerning the origin of public preferences regarding domestic or international policymaking.

Block II & III

3. Military Politics in the Global South - Koehler (act. nr: 4231)
Please note that this Bachelor Project no. 3 has been moved to block III & IV

4. Utopia, Anarchy and Anti-State Behaviour - Kopecky (act. nr: 4232)
The state is widely considered the most powerful political organization of modern societies. Indeed it is hard to imagine social order without the state ─ stateless societies and maroon communities, such as the Indians, pirates, Diggers, slaves and mutineers, or the inhabitants of Zomia in South East Asia, are mostly history. Nevertheless the very existence and necessity of the state continuous to be disputed, even within the societies that had long been exposed to modernity and to the states’ existence, such as in Western Europe and other advanced industrial countries. The functioning of states is frequently subject of critique from different ideological and ideational positions and both history and contemporary politics are replete with examples of anti-state rebellions and other strategies of what James C. Scott calls “the art of not being governed.” “Anti-statism” is the core subject of this course. In the substantive part of the course we will approach it from the perspective of several sub-fields of political science, including political theory, social movements studies, and studies of political institutions and democratic reforms. We will start with exploring key intellectual sources of anti-state philosophy, focusing mainly on anarchism, and discuss some of the key problems the existence of the state poses to societies. We will then continue the course by exploring the ideas, organization and political fortune of several anti-state political actors, such as Occupy Wall Street, dissident groups in the former Central European communist regimes, and the militia movement in the US. We will finish the substantive part of the course by discussing the ideological foundation and political practice of contemporary democratic experiments compatible with the ideas of anarchists, namely deliberative democracy.

The substantive part of the course (in Block 2) serves as the preparation for the final, research part of the course (in Block 3), during which the students will write a bachelor thesis/project on a question identified in the first part of the course.

Colin Ward, Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2004)
James C. Scott, Two Cheers for Anarchism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012)

Block III & IV

3. Military Politics in the Global South - Koehler (act. nr: 4231)
Max Weber famously defined the state as the “human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence within a given territory.” In empirical reality, however, it is not ‘the state’ which holds this monopoly, but specific armed actors—regular security forces such as the military or the police, but often also militias or insurgent groups. In the context of authoritarian rule and state weakness which characterizes many political systems in the Global South, the relationship between armed actors and the state is often intensely political. Rather acting as agents imposing the monopoly of violence on behalf of the state, armed groups might at times support state authority, while at others creating alternative political orders or taking over the state in its entirety.

This course explores the relationship between state authority and armed force in the Global South. We begin with general considerations on post-colonial statehood, including discussions on so-called weak, failing, or failed states. We then move on to examine general features of non-democratic political rule, before we turn to different theoretical angles exploring the relationship between armed power and politics in the Global South. These areas include traditional civil-military relations, theories of military coups and military rule, arguments on the role of armed forces in revolutions and regime change, but also literatures dealing with non-state armed forces such as those on militias and rebel governance.

The structure of the course follows the general outline. The first part of the course (Block II) will cover conceptual issues and will consist of a classical seminar format. Participants will be assigned central readings in different fields and will be assessed on the basis of participation in class as well as two written assignments. The last two sessions of Block II will be used to refresh some basic points regarding research design and methods in preparation for the development of research proposals outlining the individual projects. The second part of the course in Block III focuses on research. Group meetings in Block III will largely be replaced with individual supervision as participants work on their individual research.

Potential participants are explicitly encouraged to contact the instructor ahead of time if they are unsure whether a specific project idea can be pursued within the framework of this BAP.

5. Civil Wars in Theory and Practice - Schulhofer Wohl

6. Euroscepticism: Causes, Consequences and Responses - Yordanova
The future course of European integration has become the subject of public contestation and heated political debate. The failed EU constitutional treaty in 2005, the divided reactions to the economic and refugee crises across and within member states over the past decade, and, ultimately, the exit vote in the Brexit referendum in 2016 all depict the end of the era of permissive consensus. Questions such as what drives Eurosceptic attitudes, who are the Eurosceptic voters, are these voters the actual losers of European integration, as well as how political actors and the EU have been affected by and responded to the end of the permissive consensus to European integration have become pressing. In this course we will examine the effect of the EU’s politicization on electoral behavior in domestic and European elections, the positions of mainstream and fringe political parties and the responsiveness of national governments and EU institution to public attitudes towards specific EU policies, integration steps or the overall EU regime. The course will evaluate these questions through the lenses of theories of public support for international politics, winners and losers of globalization, political behavior, populism and responsiveness. It will introduce student to the state of the art analytical literature and data on public attitudes towards the EU and political responses to Euroscepticism. In the second part of the course in Block IV, the students will apply the acquired knowledge in their own research projects and write their bachelor theses on the topic under the instructor’s supervision.

Aims and objectives

  • To introduce students to the state of the art analytical research on Euroscepticism

  • To encourage critical assessment of alternative theoretical arguments, research designs and empirical findings in class discussions as well as through research replication

  • To motivate students to develop their own research ideas and guide them in examining these ideas in their bachelor thesis projects

The full syllabus will be circulated during the first class.
The students are encouraged to consult the following background reading prior to the course beginning:
Hobolt, S. and de Vries, C. E. (2016) ‘Public Support for European Integration’, Annual Review of Political Science 19: 413-32.

7. External Relations of the European Union - Pomorska
What is the role of the European Union in the world? How do national foreign policies relate to the EU’s foreign policy? Are member states still able to conduct their own ‘sovereign’ foreign policy? The European Union has by now been broadly acknowledged as an international actor, even though an unusual one. There is no ‘government’, which could define the ‘national interest’ and make executive decisions about the policy goals. Instead, we have a complex institutional set-up, based on a compromise and agreement from all 28 member states. As far as the EU’s strong position in the area of trade or development is rarely questioned, it is still believed to be “punching below its weight” in foreign and security policies.
In this project, we will study the foreign policy and, more broadly understood external relations, of the European Union and its member states. The students will be able to choose an area of their interest, e.g. policy towards the United States, Russia or China; or to focus on studying particular instruments of EU’s foreign policy, like sanctions. We will investigate the process in which the European position is established and the circumstances under which EU member states are able to speak with one voice and when is it difficult to agree on a common goal. Students may also consider how the policy coordination impacts effectiveness. In the second part of the course, the students will focus on their individual research projects and write a thesis on the topic identified earlier in the course.

8. Institutions, History and Development - de Zwart
This bachelor project aims to acquaint students with institutionalist explanation in political science. We shall focus on historical-institutionalism, a prominent and influential institutionalist approach, and design, conduct, and report on research that engages with this theory. We use Acemoglu and Robinson’s Why Nations Fail ( 2013) as a key publication in the first half of this course. We also read a series of classical articles in the historical institutionalist tradition. Acemoglu and Robenson (2013) is a fairly recent and influential contribution to this tradition. It provides an interesting explanation of development and underdevelopment in a historical institutionalist perspective.
In the second half of this course we shall follow the authors’ comparative approach and design research that applies, criticizes, elaborates, or tests their claims. Within this general students are free to choose the subjects, area’s and periods they research. A great variety of subjects is possible. For example, the effects of colonial heritage on political and economic development today; the durable influence or direct and indirect rule; the relationship between (economic) development and democracy; the primacy of politics in matters of development; institutionalist explanations of regional differences, and so on.
A syllabus with details shall be available by late October.

Acemoglu, Daron and James A. Robinson. 2013. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of
Power, Prosperity and Poverty. London: Profile Books.
Articles to be announced.

9. International Law and Human Rights - Kinacioglu
This thesis seminar is designed to support bachelor students in conceptualizing, structuring and writing their projects on topics related to the law of the use of force in international relations, and the instruments and institutions for protection of human rights. It provides for key conceptual foundations of resort to force and human rights, and introduces main theoretical debates with special emphasis on questions related to the current practice, legitimacy and efficiency. The seminar also includes methodological aspects with a focus on normative research design. It invites project proposals that involve several aspects, diverse issues and current debates regarding the use of force and human rights.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students are able to:

  • Reflect on key debates in the law of the use of force and in relation to both multilateral and unilateral military interventions;

  • Have a solid knowledge of how international legal norms on the use of force and humanitarian intervention have evolved and implemented by international organisations and states;

  • Identify the principle instruments of human rights at the international level;

  • Assess efficacy of the major international enforcement mechanisms and international human rights norms.
    Upon successful completion of this course, students are able to:

  • Conduct research in legal-normative issues with substance and structure;

  • Think analytically and critically, and present and support rigorous, well-developed arguments;

  • Compare and contrast different cases of the use of force;

  • Discuss dilemmas in the protection of human rights;

Mode of instruction
The course consists of 14 two-hour interactive seminars, which involve lectures, discussions and group work, exploring the research on the use of force and human rights. Students are expected to participate actively by raising questions and developing ideas based on the readings, class discussions and lectures. Lectures will also focus on designing research, formulating research questions, drawing conceptual framework and research strategies.

Reading list
The list of readings will be made available upon commencement of the course.

10. tba

11. tba

12. The Environmental Causes of Conflict - RezaeeDaryakenari
How does the environment affect peace and conflict? An emerging consensus within the policy circles recognizes the effects of climate change as a severe threat to international security and world peace. There are, also, plenty of reports and research on how rebel groups all around the world finance their operation using the revenue from natural resources such as oil, gold, diamond, and Coca. In this course, we will explore the relationship between climate and natural resources on one side and political conflict and violence on the other side.
The first part of the course (Block III) starts with unpacking the meaning of environment and conflict as two rather elusive concepts, which scholars conceptualized and measured differently. Then, we will discuss the literature on environmental security aiming to answer three main questions. First, how do climate change and weather anomalies as well as resource scarcity and abundance start and amplify conflict? Second, how does conflict affect the environment and exacerbate environmental issues? Finally, how can we ease and possibly resolve environment-related conflicts? We will conclude the first part of the course (Block III) by discussing the different methodological approaches that scholars and practitioners use for studying environmental security threats.
In addition to lectures, the course is designed to encourage students to participate in class discussions and group activities. Also, each student is expected to turn in two written assignments in Block III. One is a response essay (2-3 pages double space) that critiques the assigned readings to one session of the course. The second assignment is a short essay (3-5 pages double space) on the research question that you will explore in the second part of the course (Block IV). This assignment asks you to discuss the importance of your question and explain the feasibility of exploring it. Building on this proposal, you will formulate your research question and develop a research design to conduct your inquiry and write the bachelor thesis in the second part of the course (Block IV). We will schedule several individual meetings during Block IV so that you can report the progress of your research to the instructor and receive his feedback as well as discuss the challenges you may face in writing your bachelor thesis.

Reading list:
The readings list includes academic articles and policy reports. Once it is finalized, the instructor will share the reading list and syllabus on his GitHub page for this course:
In the meantime, feel free to contact the instructor if you had any questions about this project.

13. International Cooperation and The Design of Global Economic Intitutions - Sampson
Following the financial crisis of 2008, the role of global economic institutions has become more important than ever in facilitating and sustaining international economic cooperation in areas from financial regulation to international trade. These institutions also increasingly shape the domestic economic and political policies available to states. Given the crucial role of such institutions in the contemporary international system, a great deal of important research in international political economy has focused on describing the various factors shaping the design and evolution of these institutions as well as the consequences of such choices. This bachelor’s project will begin by exploring and evaluating broad analytical approaches to international cooperation, as well as questioning the role of power, timing, and ideas in shaping the design of global economic institutions. Related questions focusing on the distributional consequences of particular institutional designs will also be addressed. In this project global economic institutions are broadly defined to include not only organizations such as the WTO, IMF, and World Bank but also governance arrangements, regulations, and international agreements.

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

The methodological basic book Alan Bryman, Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, 4th ed. (Or the fifth edition of 2016) 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: 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