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Research Design (MIRD): Thesis Lab I


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


This course helps students to enter into an ongoing scholarly conversation on a research topic. It prepares students to ask good research questions and to write a proposal that includes all the necessary elements. It covers the first key steps: choosing a topic; formulating a research question; locating the right sources; completing a comprehensive literature review; applying the relevant theory and using research concepts. Issues such as feasibility; academic and social relevance; applying theory to empirical problems; how to source the correct literature will be covered on this course; and conceptualisation and construction of a preliminary research design, including methodology.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students will have:

  • identified the research topic for their thesis;

  • formulated a research question and described its social and academic relevance;

  • identified the relevant theory and concepts under investigation;

  • developed testable hypotheses, expectations, or a research puzzle to investigate;

  • written the first half of their thesis proposal up to the methods section;

  • written preliminary research design section of thesis proposal.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-Prospectus you will find a link to the online timetables.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, class discussion, self-study (including assignments).

Study load: 140 hours

Assessment method

Critical Review Essay (30%)
Individual (1 on 1) Meeting with Instructors (20%)
Thesis Proposal (50%)

Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Brightspace.

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.
Assignment requirements will remain the same. Only the thesis proposal is eligible for re-sit. Due to its nature, the individual meeting and critical response essay are both ineligible for a re-sit.

Partial grades will remain valid for one academic year. Should a student fail the overall course, s/he can complete the course in the next academic year. In cases of exceptional circumstances, a student may apply to the board of examiners for a resit to complete the course in the same academic year.

Reading list

Academic articles announced before the lectures.


Register for this course via uSis. Registration for courses is possible from 13 July, 13.00h. In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in uSis you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Dr. Graig Klein, Institute of Security & Global Affairs, Leiden University
Office Hours: Friday 11:30-12:30

Dr. Marinko Bobic, Institute of Security & Global Affairs, Leiden University
Office Hours: By Appointment


Based on the proposal developed in this course, the programme will allocate thesis supervisors and second readers among the supervisors available from a.o. Leiden University and The Clingendael Institute.