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Thesis

Social Sciences

The thesis is not just a long paper. It is an academic project, and for most students it turns out to be a personal project as well. In addition to academic skills it will take self-discipline and good planning to complete your thesis in a satisfactory way. Below you find all relevant information for writing your thesis and organising your graduation.

Please select your programme below.

Bachelor's programmes

  • Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology

    The bachelor Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology does not require writing a thesis. The bachelor will be completed with the course 'Final Presentation and Exam'. You can find this course in the course catalogue.

  • Political Science (BSc)
  • Sociology (BSc)

    The Bachelor's Research Project teaches students to carry out research from A to Z, from an initial idea to completion in the form of a scientific report, the Bachelor thesis. All phases of the empirical cycle are completed: from formulating a question, creating a research design, collecting or requesting data, analyzing and interpreting the data, answering the question, to reporting the findings orally and in writing. In the Bachelor Research Project three processes: the thinking process, the organizational process and the time process, come together and have to be attuned to each other.

    The Bachelor Research Project starts in block 4. Further information on topics and supervisors can be found in the Bachelor Research Guide, which can be downloaded from the Canvas page from the start of the enrollment period. You will find all relevant information for writing your thesis and the Thesis Rules & Guidelines. For more info about the course see also the course catalogue.

  • Capstone Project (Honours and Talent Programme)

Master's programmes

  • Conflict Resolution and Governance
  • Cultural and Social Anthropology

    Each Master's track has their own manual. Find the Fieldwork and Thesis Manuals in the timeline on your Canvas Cohort page.

    Good Writing and Proper Referencing

    While writing your thesis it can be helpful to (re)read the documents below. The documents Good Writing and Proper Referencing provide tips for reading and listening, information about format, layout and structure of a text, rules on quoting and paraphrasing and much more useful information.

  • Human Geography

    The thesis in Human Geography (all tracks) starts in November with an Info Session, where the structure and important deadlines for the thesis are introduced. Shortly after, all students will be asked to provide their preference for one of the thesis projects offered. By early December the final list of participants in each thesis project will be published through Canvas.
    The official course starts in semester 2 with writing a thesis proposal.

  • International Development Studies (Msc)

    Second reader

    Besides your fieldwork and thesis supervisor, you also need a second reader to evaluate your thesis during your defense.

    To make sure your thesis is evaluated as unbiased as possible the dept. of IDS has decided that a second reader should be present during the last fase of your thesis, during thesis defense. He/she will take the lead and will only consult the supervisor for procedural questions.

    The second reader is appointed to you and can be a specialist in your thesis topic or region where your fieldwork was conducted.

    If your supervisor is from the IDS staff the second reader can be an external person. If you have an external supervisor, the 2nd reader has to be from IDS staff, to make sure all IDS stardarts are met.

    Defense

    The thesis defense takes place after the final draft of your thesis has been submitted and read by both your supervisor and your second reader. It is best if you, your supervisor and your second reader select a date for the defense on your own, based on your own availability. There is no official scheduling. The only thing to keep in mind is that the defense should take place sometime in the two weeks after the thesis deadline so that grades can be submitted on time for you to graduate. If you foresee any problem with this (such as you can only find a date when all are available for the defense a few days after grades need to be submitted), please let the study advisor know. It is not likely to be a problem, but we do need to be aware and get the final grade as soon as possible.

  • International Development Studies (rMSc)

    Second reader

    Besides your fieldwork and thesis supervisor, you also need a second reader to evaluate your thesis during your defense.

    To make sure your thesis is evaluated as unbiased as possible the dept. of IDS has decided that a second reader should be present during the last fase of your thesis, during thesis defense. He/she will take the lead and will only consult the supervisor for procedural questions.

    The second reader is appointed to you and can be a specialist in your thesis topic or region where your fieldwork was conducted.

    If your supervisor is from the IDS staff the second reader can be an external person. If you have an external supervisor, the 2nd reader has to be from IDS staff, to make sure all IDS stardarts are met.

    Defense

    The thesis defense takes place after the final draft of your thesis has been submitted and read by both your supervisor and your second reader. It is best if you, your supervisor and your second reader select a date for the defense on your own, based on your own availability. There is no official scheduling. The only thing to keep in mind is that the defense should take place sometime in the two weeks after the thesis deadline so that grades can be submitted on time for you to graduate. If you foresee any problem with this (such as you can only find a date when all are available for the defense a few days after grades need to be submitted), please let the study advisor know. It is not likely to be a problem, but we do need to be aware and get the final grade as soon as possible.

    Contrary to how it sounds, the thesis defense is not an interrogation of the thesis, but most often an inspiring conversation about it. It gives the students a chance to clarify certain points, or say more than what they could include in the written text. The thesis defense takes one hour and is structured in the following way:

    • Students get five minutes for opening statements regarding their thesis. This can be a summary, highlights, reflections, etc. – whatever you deem most important at that time. You should not do this as a powerpoint presentation, but simply at the table, with notes if needed.
    • After the student makes the opening statements, the second reader takes the lead in the defense. The second reader will have read the thesis and prepared a number of questions to ask you related to relevance, theory, data collection, data analysis, findings, recommendations, etc. In other words, they can ask a wide range of questions. The question/answer time usually lasts between 35-40 minutes. The first supervisor may also have input or ask questions, but most of the defense should be left up to the second reader.
    • After the students have finished the answering the questions, they will be asked to leave the room for 5-10 minutes while the first supervisor and the second reader fill out the Thesis Evaluation form and decide on the final grade.
  • Medical Anthropology and Sociology

    MAS Fieldwork and Thesis Manual

    The MAS Fieldwork and Thesis manual provides information to students Medical Anthropology and Sociology (MAS) about key steps in their fieldwork and thesis projects, including the roles and responsibilities of various persons involved (students, supervisors, fieldwork coordinators, lecturers, study adviser/ program manager and GSSS support staff). It further includes information on practicalities and deadlines, and the MAS code of conduct.

    Writing Skills and Style Guide

    While writing your thesis it can be helpful to (re)read the Writing Skills and Style Guide (vaardighedengids). The guide provides tips for reading and listening, information about format, layout and structure of a text, rules on quoting and paraphrasing and much more useful information.

  • Political Science (MSc)
  • Social Sciences (rMSc)

    Finding a supervisor

    In the RMSS programme, all students require a supervisor, and students are responsible for finding a suitable supervisor themselves. Who this person is generally depends on a mixture of expertise, interests, personality and time. Expertise because it helps if your supervisor is at home in your subject, but this is not always necessary. It is at least as important that the supervisor is interested in what you want to do: this makes the process enjoyable for both sites. Personality plays a role as it simply is a good thing if you get along, and time is quite relevant because without it no supervisor can do the job. How do you find one?

    Maybe you already have a clear idea about whom you would like, maybe not. In the latter case there are a few ways to make a choice:

    1) Ask around. Your tutor can be of help here by identifying staff members that have some of your research interests in common, and by giving you advice during the process of finding the right thesis supervisor. Your study adviser, lecturers, and second year students may also have ideas as to who would be a possible good choice.

    2) Have a look at that person’s profile on the UvA-site, maybe read some of their articles. You can check the profiles of potential supervisors by going through the programme groups at the AISSR site or the personnel lists of the departments Anthropology, Sociology and Political Science. Please note your supervisor should be a permanent staff member of one of these departments and in possession of a PhD degree. When in doubt; please contact your tutor and/or study adviser.

    Chances are you will come up with a name one way or another. You may not be 100% certain as you might not know this person -and in any case you do not know whether they are available- so find this out: get in touch. A few ways to do this:

    Easiest is to send an email. The advantage is that you can be clear and explain (concisely) what you want to do. Your intended supervisor can read at their own speed and time, which makes it likely that they will pay attention to your text. It might also be good to make clear in your email why you would like this specific person to supervise you. The disadvantage of an email is that many people get flooded with them. As such, there is a chance that it escapes attention or that an answer takes time. Not receiving an answer is however not the same as a ‘no’. Simply assume your supervisor-to-be was away, was very busy and forgot to reply, or that the mail ended up in the spam. You require an answer so after a week or so it is perfectly acceptable to send a second email politely reminding this person of your first email and your continued interest. You can also walk by the supervisor’s room to see whether they happen to be in or phone them. This expresses interest, many will not mind.

    There is nothing wrong with being a bit adamant: as said, that shows you are serious. If they are available, arrange a meeting to discuss your ideas and find out whether the two of you are a good fit. If they are not available they may be able to point you towards someone else who might suit your needs, perhaps even introduce you.

    It might take a bit of an effort, but no reply is not a ‘no’, and a ‘no’ does not mean that your ideas are no good. There are a lot of potential supervisors so finding you (the right) one is worth taking the trouble. 

    The Research Proposal

    A detailed description of what the research proposal should look like is given in the Thesis Manual. You can find the thesis manual of your year below. It is important to stress here the formal procedure and the deadline for handing it in. The research proposal should be approved upon by the thesis supervisor and your tutor. Make sure to arrange the formal approval by filling in the Research Proposal Form, via the link below. In case you follow the course Fieldwork Preparation and Proposal, or the Research Proposal Workshop, you don't need formal approval from your tutor, just a pass for the course, and the approval of your thesis supervisor.

    Supervision

    Your supervisor(s) will guide you through the process of conducting your research and writing the thesis.It is important to discuss what both of you expect from the supervision process. . Supervision consists of regular meetings between the supervisor and the student (approximately 7 to 10 meetings is common); reading of and commenting on draft chapters by the supervisor; assistance during the research; assessing the final thesis and finding a second reader for examination; and finally organizing the final discussion with the second reader. Find more information about the thesis supervision in the thesis manual. 

    Manual for Writing a Thesis

    You can find more information on how to write a thesis in the RMSS Thesis Manual.  

    Research Proposal Form

    You can find all deadlines related to the thesis (such as when to hand in the proposal with your supervisor, arranging the formal approval and handing in the thesis) in the timeline of the Canvas Cohort Page.

    To arrange the formal approval for your Research Proposal, please fill in the Research Proposal Form via the link below.

    Students in the interpretative and mixed methods specialisation with mandatory fieldwork fill in the form before the start of the third semester and before starting fieldwork.Students in the mixed methods specialisation with a mandatory internship and Empirical-Analytical methods specialisation submit their research proposal form no later than mid-February (see the timeline in the Canvas Cohort Page for the exact deadline), and in any case before starting any thesis-related activities

    In case you follow the course  Fieldwork Preparation and Proposal, or the Research Proposal Workshop, you don't need formal approval from your tutor, just a pass for the course, and the approval of your thesis supervisor.

    Please find the link to the research proposal form below.

    Scholarships for thesis research and fieldwork

    Students in GSSS English taught Master's programmes with a mandatory fieldwork can apply for a GSSS fieldwork subsidy (guaranteed) for doing  fieldwork abroad. For more information see the link below.

    Evaluation

    The thesis manuscript will be evaluated by the thesis supervisor and the second reader. The supervisor will find a second reader. The second reader is an independent examiner and his or her involvement during the writing process should be kept at a minimum. The thesis should be handed in hardcopy to both of your supervisors. Preferably within two weeks after submitting the thesis, a final discussion between the student, the supervisor and the second reader takes place, chaired by the supervisor. In the final discussion the student will be informed about the grade. Before the final discussion takes place, the supervisor and the second reader may want to fill in a Thesis Evaluation Form independently. However, they fill in and sign a joint Thesis Assessment Form (which can be found in the thesis manual) for handing in the grade. The final discussion is mandatory, but will not be taken into account when determining the final grade.

    You can find more information about the graduation process by clicking the link below.

  • Sociology

    The Master’s in Sociology culminates in the writing of a thesis, which is the final test of your academic skills. Your thesis should show your ability to carry out independent and creative research, written up in a format which adheres to academic conventions. This makes your thesis the most important and most challenging, but also the hardest part of your master’s programme. Previously gained knowledge, scientific insight, theories and methodological skills are all considered, but this time in one combined project for which you have to conduct your own empirical research.

    On the Canvas Master’s Thesis page you will find all relevant information for writing your thesis, such as the Thesis Rules & Guidelines, GSSS Ethical Guidelines for Students and the assessment form.

  • Urban and Regional Planning (MSc)

    The thesis in Urban and Regional Planning (all tracks) starts in November with an Info Session, where the structure and important deadlines for the thesis are introduced. Shortly after, all students will be asked to provide their preference for one of the thesis projects offered. By early December the final list of participants in each thesis project will be published through Canvas.
    The official course starts in semester 2 with writing a thesis proposal.

  • Urban Studies (rMSc)

    The thesis trajectory for Urban Studies starts in November with a Speed Date session for the Urban Lab: Apprenticeship course, where students have the chance to work closely with a supervisor on a research project. The collaboration between the student and supervisor will be continued during the Urban Lab: Research Proposal, in the final block of year 1. During the first semester of year 2, students go on an exchange semester where fieldwork, in the form of a comparative case study, and course work is combined. In the final semester of the programme, students will do their second comparative case study and write their thesis.

Thesis Archive

UvA Scripties is a service through which the University of Amsterdam (UvA) enables worldwide digital access to the theses (master/bachelor) of its students.