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Thesis and paper writing

When writing a thesis or paper you must make good use of the insights you have gained during your lectures and studies so far. You should also refer to relevant literature and carry out your own research on the topic.

One of the most important things you will learn during an academic study programme is how to write an interesting piece of work that meets the criteria of scientific quality, whilst also being accesible to the broader public.

Refer to our Study tips pages for more information on academic writing skills. 


The last part of your Master's programme is the Master thesis. You will make a research proposal, collect your own data, analyze them and describe your findings. The thesis process is completed with the thesis defense.


The most important information regarding the Master thesis can be found:

1. In the E- Prospectus: in the course description you will find important requirements such as the global planning per cohort, codes, and the number of credits you receive for the thesis.
2. On the Blackboard page: here you find the exact deadlines, a list of areas of expertise of supervisors, information about capstone projects, contact details of coordinators, supervisors manuals, and additional useful information.

The thesis process

You will take the following steps during the thesis process:

  • Step 1: It is wise to orientate yourself early. Register on blackboard, check out the areas of expertise and think about the theme you would like to write your thesis on. If you have an idea you can start to look for literature or even elect your electives on it.
  • Step 2: During the course Research design, you will learn how scientific research works and how to develop your own research proposal
  • Step 3: Based on your proposal you will be linked to a supervisor. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor; prepare this meeting well and also take a look at the deadlines applicable to you.
  • Step 4. Start your research with the end goal in mind!
  • Step 5: If you have submitted your thesis and your supervisor and the second reader agree it is sufficient, the defense can take place. You will be questioned in about 20 minutes on your thesis. After this you will receive your grade. The grade is based on your thesis, your presentation at the defense can also have influence.


In Capstone projects you will work in a team with other students on a specific theme led by a researcher of the institute who has considerable expertise on this subject. Sometimes in Capstone projects you work together with organizations in the field and the theme has a specific policy background. As for the rest a Capstone project is identical to the thesis process; you will deliver your individual written thesis and the same rules (and deadlines) apply.


There are some people with whom you will come in contact during the thesis process:

- The thesis coordinator is responsible among other things for linking students to supervisors and is the first point of contact if you have questions about the thesis process as a whole.
- The supervisor: advises you while writing your thesis and is the contact person for questions and planning.
- The study advisor: is your contact person for personal issues.


When you have completed your thesis and also obtained  the rest of your credits you can apply for graduation.

Fraud & plagiarism

Instances of fraud and plagiarism are taken very seriously by the Institute of Public Administration and will be subject to sanctions.

Fraud constitutes cheating on exams or falsifying research data. Plagiarism is a form of fraud and entails violating the intellectual property of someone else. Plagiarism means you take words, thoughts, analyses, reasoning, images, techniques, computer programs etc. that belong to someone else and present them (knowingly or not) as your own.

Since plagiarism is cheating, and because plagiarism by definition undermines the scientific enterprise, cases of plagiarism are taken very seriously by the university community and are punishable by sanctions. The maximum sanction for students amounts to a definite expulsion from the program. When a student has doubts about what constitutes plagiarism, he or she can always consult with an instructor. Some general guidelines of the do's and don'ts of plagiarism can be found on the University website on regulations.  

Rules regarding fraud & plagiarism

  • The Institute of Public Administration has adopted rules and procedures regarding fraud and plagiarism in the Rules and Directives, art.  6.4 and 6.5.
  • The Institute of Public Administration uses the program Ephorus to systematically check plagiarism. Work will therefore have to be submitted electronically as well as in hard-copy (see below).
  • In a case in which fraudulent practice is suspected, the examination committee will suspend the assignment of a grade pending investigation of the suspicion. The examination committee will appoint a review committee consisting of three members that does not include those who have had direct supervision of the administration of the examination or the grading of written material from a course.
  • The review committee will solicit testimony from all relevant parties, but will in any case hear testimony from those who had the respective supervision and from the student who is suspected of fraudulent practice.
  • If the review committee determines that a fraudulent practice has taken place, the results of a test or of written work will be declared invalid. There are various sanctions which can be applied based on the gravity of the committed offence. These can be found in the Rules and Directives art. 6.5.5.
  • Students have a right to appeal to a decision by the Board of Examiners. See Rules and Directives art. 8.

Turnitin & Repository

Leiden University uses the application Turnitin to enable instructors to systematically detect plagiarism in students’ written work. Turnitin is integrated into Blackboard as a plug-in. Turnitin compares texts submitted by students with an extensive database of source documents, including papers and theses of other students and sources on the internet.  Texts are evaluated and scanned  for similarities. For each text submitted by a student Turnitin generates a similarity report.  If necessary an instructor can take appropriate measures based on this report . Bachelor and Master theses will also be submitted in the digital Repository of the University.  

Submitting documents with Turnitin

  • When an instructor creates a Turnitin assignment within the context of a Blackboard course, all documents that are submitted to this assignment are checked for similarities against sources from the Turnitin database.
  • A detailed description of how to submit documents  is available on the Turnitin .
  • After successfully completing a submission students recieve a digital receipt. 

Course and Examination Regulations

The Course and Examination Regulations (CER) are a part of the student charter and contains information on, i.e., admission criteria, programmes and graduation.

The CER per master is to be found on this page. The Rules & Regulations contain the most important rights and obligations of students regarding issues such as:

  • Content of the programme
  • Exams
  • Admissions criteria
  • Study support

The Rules and Regulations are to be found on the page of the Board of Examiners.

Plagiarism is a form of fraud which the Institute of Public Administration takes very seriously. In the Rules & regulations of the different programmes, rules have been drafted on different forms of plagiarism and the sanctions attached. There are also rules set by the university which apply for every student.

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