This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 24.
Please note that passing a Thematic Seminar (10 EC) in the second year, second semester, is an entry requirement for starting your thesis in academic year 2023-2024. You need to have passed a minimum of 100 EC of year 1 and 2 of the International Studies programme as well in order to start your thesis.
Climate change. Genetically modified foods. Global pandemics. Obesity. Post traumatic stress disorder. Science issues of global proportions affect our lives as citizens of this planet. Journalists may help us make sense of these issues, enabling us to make informed decisions about policy and about our personal lives. This course looks at the science–media–society nexus, focusing on news media as an intermediary between science and society.
The course will bring critical sociological and rhetorical perspectives to bear on current developments and controversies in this field. The way news media, policy makers, scientists and citizens deal with risk and uncertainty will be a major issue. Special emphasis will be put on the challenges to traditional expertise and authority posed by the internet and social media.
The major assignments will consist of an individual paper (literature review) and a joint content analysis project. Drawing on the mandatory literature and on an additional literature search, the paper addresses the way a science issue has been reported by the news media and/or discussed in social media, whereas in the content analysis projects students will carry out their own study of (social) media on science.
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
1. To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position.
2. 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 analyse 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 timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the Midterm Exam week. This includes supervised research.
Assessment and Weighing
|Literature review (2,000 words)||30%|
|In-class participation (Incl. Preparatory reading, minor homework assignments)||20%|
|Final Research Essay (5,000 words) + Research presentation||50%|
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 score an overall insufficient grade for the course, are allowed resubmit a reworked version of the Final Essay. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the Final Research Essay and subsequent feedback.
In case of resubmission of the Final Research Essay the final grade for the Essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, but still within 5 working days of that deadline, will receive a grade and feedback on their essay. This will be considered a first submission of the final essay, however, the grade will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, and also fail to hand in their essay within 5 working days of that deadline, get 10 working days, counting from the original deadline, to hand in the first version of their final essay. However, this first version counts as a resubmitted essay with consequential lowering of the grade, and there will be no option of handing in a reworked version based on feedback from the lecturer.
Retaking a passing grade
Retaking a passing grade is not possible for this course.
Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2022 – 2023.
Exam review and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.
To be announced.
Additionally, the students will work through:
W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, fourth edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2016, or;
W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 16 December 2022:
- On 16 December 2022 you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
- Indicate there which are your 5 preferred Thematic Seminars, in order of preference.
- Based on preferences indicated by 2 January 2023 the course Coordinator will assign you to one specific Thematic Seminar by 23 January 2023.
- Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
Students cannot register in uSis for the Thematic Seminar courses, or be allowed into a Thematic Seminar course in any other way.
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies
The deadline for submission of the Final Essay is Friday 9 June 2023.