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Thesis Seminar Nationalism, Ethnic conflict and Development - Spring 2020



Students choose (one of) the thesis seminar(s) offered within their specialisation. It is strongly recommended that students start thinking about the topic of their thesis before the start of the classes. Attendance is compulsory for all classes. Detailed information about the study material and the writing process can be found on Blackboard.

Course Objectives

Objective: 1. To deepen the understanding of theories and methods related to research on the theme of the Master Specialisation.
Objective: 2. Applying them to a specific topic as part of the student’s Master thesis project.

General Introduction Meeting

On Wednesday 4 December 2019, 13:15-15:00 in room SA41 there will be a general introduction meeting in which the instructors will explain and discuss the general thesis seminar procedures and expectations and students can ask questions about the thesis seminars.

Theme 01: The Politics of Developing Countries - Chauchard (act. code: 16208)

This Thesis Seminar is also available for IP students

In keeping with the instructor’s specialization, this is a thesis seminar focusing on the internal politics of developing countries, especially (though not only) when it comes to elections, political representation and governance. The only requirement is that students identify, and address, an empirical question about the way in which some aspect of politics takes place in one or several developing countries. The term “developing” is here broadly defined. Students may develop research projects that examine one aspect of political development in a country that currently tends to be referred to as “developing” or focus on historical dynamics in a country that is now arguably more “developed”. Possible themes include, but are not limited to : ethnic conflict and conflict prevention; regimes and the quality of democracy; challenges to state-building and/or to democratic consolidation in weak states and unconsolidated democracies; electoral processes; reforms/interventions currently or historically implemented to improve the quality of governance in developing countries.
There is no geographical constraint. The instructor welcomes theses on a wide variety of contexts. Qualitative and quantitative methodologies can be used, as well as comparisons of countries, subnational units, or individual cases. Students who followed the course “Elections in Emerging Democracies” will be able to build on the literature and the theoretical debates reviewed there.

At the end of the program, students will have produced research product that contributes to the existing body of knowledge on the question they are interested in. In order to do this, they will first acquire a variety of methodological, intellectual and life skills: the ability to define a research question; to identify and review existing knowledge and research; to collect and organize data; to analyze it; to write up their findings; and most importantly, to navigate the many challenges of doing empirical research.

Assessment method
Students are assessed on several criteria:

  • The clarity of the question they are interested in.

  • The quality of their literature review and their mastery of the relevant material.

  • The quality of their own original empirical research.

  • The importance of their contribution.

  • More generally, the quality of the final product.

Literature for the project will be announced on Blackboard at the beginning of the semester.

Theme 02 and 03 of the IP program will also be available for NECD students

Please consult the IP pages for more information

Additional Information

Please note that for some seminars there will be no additional substantive readings than the ones discussed in the courses they build on.


Registration in uSis for one thesis seminar is possible from Monday 16 December 10.00h until 22 December 23.59h. Placement is on a first come first served basis and subject to availability.

Registration is open for students that started their Master in one of the Political Science specialisations, in September 2019. All other students should contact the exam committee to request permission to take this thesis seminar. Students can take the thesis seminar only once in their academic year.


Research Proposal
The research proposal includes a problem statement, theoretical foundation, conceptualization as well as a sound explanation of the methods and techniques for data collection and analysis.The proposal must be approved by the supervisor and a second reader. The second reader will be designated by the Director of Studies. Please note that teachers are not obliged to provide thesis supervision if the proposal is not approved.

Master Thesis

The MSc thesis needs to comply with high standards of academic research. The thesis must be between 8.000 and 10.000 words, including tables, footnotes and bibliography. The thesis evaluation form with the evaluation criteria will be published on Blackboard.

Students that drop or fail the course have to retake the complete thesis seminar (in the 2nd semester of the next academic year). Students should contact the Exam Committee if they are unable to complete the master thesis by the deadline due to circumstances beyond their control.