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Research Project (ResMA)


Note: This is a preliminary course description. It will be adjusted as soon as possible.

Admission Requirements

1) Successful completion of the course Critical Area Studies: Placing Your Research; and,
2) successful completion of the course Methologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities; or, at least 5 EC of Research School Courses; and,
3) a passing grade for the Research Project Preparation module.


After the completion of their first year students are expected to spend a complete semester (semester 3) to do research. The semester is 30 EC. Of these 30 EC, the research project should at least be 20 EC (and can be up to the full 30 EC). A maximum of 10 EC can be used to study abroad at one of the institutions affiliated with the programme or to take an extra course in Leiden (or at another university). Students should discuss their wishes and expectations as early as possible with their “academic mentor”, preferably at the beginning of their second semester at the latest. The students need to write a sound proposal before they can start their research. This proposal needs to be submitted to the Board of Examiners for approval at least two months before the student gets started (by the end of the second semester) and before the 1 June if they want tot start in September. This way they have time to rewrite if necessary and hand in an new version by 1 July.

Note that the 1 EC from the Research Project Preparation is counted towards the required 20-30 EC for the complete Research Project. Hence the 19-29 EC for this part of the Research Project.


Students should be aware that Leiden University will not allow students to do research in areas colored red and orange (meaning “no travelling allowed” and “only necessary travelling allowed”, respectively) by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The website of the Ministry gives further details.

During the Covid-19 pandemic extra restrictions are in place (i.e. at least until 1 February 2021). In principle, all travel abroad is restricted (including to green and yellow areas). Students who want to travel abroad for internships, fieldwork or research, can ask the International Incident Team (IIT) for permission in very exceptional cases and under strict conditions for the countries coded green or yellow (not for those coded orange or red). For more information and the form used to ask for permission see the following webpage.

Students who plan to go abroad and want to combine doing research with Studying Abroad can contact the International Co-ordinator of the Faculty of Humanities for advise. Please be reminded that the deadline for applications for Study Abroad beyond Erasmus agreements is 1 December (year X) for Study Abroad in Fall semester of year X+1 and Spring semester year X+2. Study Abroad in Spring semester year X+1 is only possible if there are places left.

Doing research abroad often involves obtaining permission from the local authorities, getting a research visum (rather than a tourist visum) and e.g. working with a local researcher/guarantor. It is therefore adamant that you make sure that you are well informed rgarding the formal requirement for doing research before you leave. Your fieldwork supervisor may be a starting point for information, but also check the embassy of the country you are planning to go to. Not following existing laws, rules and procedures may result in your being kicked out of the country, or worse.

Students going abroad are furthermore expected to have read and act according to the regulations as laid down in the Leiden University Regulations on Studying Abroad. More information can also be found on the university website with information for students travelling abroad in the context of their studies.

Course objectives

Inasmuch as there is a clear-cut boundary between doing research and writing the thesis, the project is about the former of these two.

During your first year of studies, you

  • identifed a research topic;

  • formulated a research question;

  • done a literature review;

  • identifed primary sources of various kinds (texts and other artifacts, interlocutors/interviewees etc) and considered your access to these sources;

  • designed a methodology;

  • reflected on the theoretical orientation to be taken.

This year will be dedicated to

  • gathering data (in your third semester);

  • and last but not least, reporting on the research in writing (in your fourth semester) in your ResMA Thesis.


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Mode of instruction

Independent Study

During the project students will regularly report to their supervisor, i.e. at least every three weeks by email unless otherwise agreed upon with the supervisor.

Assessment Method


After the student finishes his/her research project, (s)he hands in a research report. The reflective report should consist of the following elements:

  • a description of the field and the research undertaken;

  • an answer to the research question posed in the research proposal;

  • a critical discussion of methodology and practice;

  • an evaluation by the student of the value of the research project for his/her field of research;

  • a critical personal reflection: evaluation of the own functioning and acquired skills.

The research report is an official examination and therefore needs to be written in English. It should be approximately 15 pages (excluding bibliography and/or appendices) and handed in to the Leiden supervisor(s). The student will be graded by his supervisor based on the research (the 3-weekly reports) and this final report.

Academic Integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.
Students must submit their assignment(s) through Brightspace, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

Reading list



Students do not need to register for this "course."


Dr. Nicole A.N.M.van.Os