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Thematic seminars

In the BA International Studies programme offers Thematic seminars in the second semester of the second year (10 EC). The seminars are designed for, and open to, students of International Studies.


The Thematic Seminars are offered to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on their multidisciplinary background and introducing them to advanced research. Thematic seminars reflect the research focus and interests of individual staff members, tailored to International Studies students. The courses therefore typically treat current issues from a multidisciplinary perspective and places those issues in the context of globalization.

The Thematic Seminar serves as the main preparatory course on writing the final thesis in the third year of the programme. This implies that within the course, substantial room has to be reserved for training specific academic research skills. Students have been taught research skills earlier in the programme, in the course Reading & Writing, Research methods, and in the numerous writing assignments they do for their tutorials. However, the Thematic Seminar offers a first occasion to practice those skills in the context of a relatively large paper of 5000 words (the thesis is 10.000 words).

The Craft of Research and literature review

Although lecturers are free to choose any method of instruction that fits the purposes and demands of their subject and discipline best, we should like to ask you to pay explicit attention to the students' research and writing skills. The study guide advises students to work with W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, third or fourth edition. If possible, please refer to this book.

Literature review/ bibliographical survey

An important aspect of each research is the so-called literature review (or bibliographical survey). In this literature review, students are to collect, paraphrase, and critically discuss the most important academic sources (articles, book chapters) for their papers, and to give the current state of research (the status quaestionis). For a convenient guide on writing a literature review, see for instance https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/literature-reviews/. The literature review should, in some form, be included in the paper.

Student absence without notification or acceptable reason

Students who fail to show up in class without notification or acceptable reason, should be warned that this may impact the level of their assignments in such a way that they will not be able to pass the course. In case of doubt, do not hesitate to check with the coordinators of study (bais.stuco@hum.leidenuniv.nl) if they are aware of any reasons that explain a student’s repeated absence without notification. Students who are unable to come to class because of illness should inform their lecturers and instructors. Obviously, there is no penalty for absence because of illness.

Word count

After ample deliberation and consultation, we have established that for this 10 EC-course, the required number of words for the final essay should be 5,000, excluding bibliography (accept a margin of max. 10 percent). This counts as 50% of the total grade.


50% of the grade will be determined by the final essay. The other 50% can be divided by the lecturer. Some lecturers have a midterm exam, other prefer to grade presentations, or weekly assignments. You are free to decide on the exact breakdown of the remaining 50%. If you would like to take into account participation, be sure to mention this in your grade breakdown (e.g. 20% participation). Please note that participation is not presence, we do not want our students to be rewarded for being present.

Grade administration

When a student needs a resit, please send the first (fail) grade to our administrative department as well.

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