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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. 

Faculty regulations

The criteria of the thesis are outlined in the faculty-wide regulation shown on the right side of this page. For both papers as well as thesis the rules on plagiarism and academic integrity apply.

Request for appointing thesis supervisor

The Board of Examiners is responsible for appointing a supervisor for the master’s thesis and the bachelor’s thesis. 

Every study programme has its own procedure for appointing supervisors. Please consult the course description of the master’s thesis or bachelor’s thesis in the e-prospectus. 

Need help with your writing assignment? Come to the Writing Centre

Do you need help with an academic written assignment (i.e. a thesis, a paper or an essay)? If so, you can make use of the help offered by the Writing Centre. The Centre is meant to aid all BA students of the Faculty of Humanities who would like to improve their writing skills.

The main emphasis is on helping you to improve your own thesis or other writing assignment. The Writing Centre is part of the Expertise Centre for Academic Skills (EAV in Dutch) of the Faculty of Humanities. Make an appointment

Individual tuition

Each session with one of our tutors takes approximately 45 minutes. Appointments can be made for a single session, or for several sessions, to discuss one specific assignment. The services provided by the Writing Centre are free of charge for students.

What can we do for you?

The writing tutors are specially selected (Res)MA students, who have been trained to focus on the analysis of problems that occur during the writing process and of issues related to text writing. They have also been trained how to give feedback. For example, they advise you how to structure your topic by means of a clear chapter outline. They can also give you advice with regard to academic style and clarity of language.

The  tutors do not discuss the content of your assignments: that is up to you and your supervisor. Nor will the tutors evaluate your text  (“Is my assignment fine as it is now?”). Furthermore, the tutors will not correct the spelling or the grammar for you; their role is to advise you on how you can improve your written work yourself.

Who are we?

The tutors of the Writing Centre are:

Make an appointment

Should you want to make use of the Writing Centre’s services, you can contact us through filling out the ‘Sign-up form’.

Make sure that you e-mail any relevant documents you wish to discuss during your session 24 hours in advance. If you have no text yet to discuss, but do need help with formulating a hypothesis or writing a research proposal, you can also make an appointment with a tutor. The sessions take place in the Van Eyckhof 4, 001A.

Opening hours

The Writing Centre is open from Monday till Thursday from 09:00 am till 05:00 pm. You can contact our team by sending an e-mail to Schrijfcentrum-EAV@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Faculty thesis seminar

For students of Humanities who are unable to participate in the thesis seminar of their own programme there is a Humanities thesis seminar in semester 1.

The thesis seminar begins in the week of September  11th, 2017 (week 37). Please register for it beforehand in uSis (code 5003VSCRSW). Information about the times and locations of the meetings can be found in the timetables for semester 1.

The language of instruction in the thesis seminar is Dutch. If you would like to join the seminar and you do not speak Dutch, please contact the lecturer, dr. Grace Rowicka, at eav@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Before the seminar begins: Please take your time to think about a thesis topic. Which course did you enjoy most? What topics did you find intriguing? Which questions were left unanswered during the course? It is also advisable to contact your potential supervisor and make sure they can supervise you. The seminar will then help you the best to be quick out of the starting blocks.

Working towards a good thesis

This seminar consists of a number of sessions, each focused on a step in the thesis writing proces or on a common stumbling point. At the beginning of the series there are weekly sessions in order to help you draw your research plan and thesis outline. In the following three months you will be carrying your plan out under the supervision of your thesis supervisor. The seminar groups meet then once a month. During the last session the students present briefly their research results.

The thesis seminar is meant to complement the guidance you receive from the supervisor within your study programme; it is not meant to replace it. The seminar will not provide any instruction with regard to the content of your thesis; it is meant to support you during the planning and writing process. The seminar instructor will not be involved in the grading of your thesis; the responsibility for the content and therefore for correcting and grading your thesis lies with your supervisor within your study programme. However, the seminar instructor will be in touch with your supervisor.

Procedures related to the Research Master Thesis

The course description of the Research Master Thesis can be found in the E-Prospectus.

The thesis is based on original research (possible conducted largely during Fieldwork in the third semester) and makes substantial use of primary material and professional literature. It is written in English, is up to 30,000 words in length (including footnotes and bibliography), and reflects the scholarly virtues of originality, focus and concision. The thesis must show the student’s ability to conduct original research under supervision, and to make a contribution to scholarship in a way that inspires confidence in his/her ability to prepare written reports of good quality. Its author must show that s/he is conversant with the discourse that emerges from influential publications in the field. If the supervisor does not specify otherwise, the references should be formatted consistently in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style
The thesis is supervised by a staff member of one of the Departments involved in the ResMA Area Studies programme possessing the appropriate expertise in the field addressed in the thesis. Formally, the supervisor is appointed by the Board of Examiners. Students must fill out a form to request the Board of Examiners to appoint a supervisor. In this form they may indicate their preferred supervisor(s). 
The official regulations regarding the Thesis of the Research Master are available as attachments to the Teaching and Examination Regulations.

Students in the Research Master Area Studies who started before September 2014 are to defend the first version of their thesis, when they have handed this in. This defense consists in the preparation of a short (3 to 5 pages) thesis abstract, with reference to relevant literature and sources, the most important works consulted (with annotation), and central hypotheses. The thesis is defended before the supervisor, second supervisor/reader and other faculty members as appropriate. The purpose of this defense is to allow students to get a review of their thesis on the basis of which they may rewrite parts for the final version.

Students who started in September 2014 or later are to defend their thesis proposal as described in the course description of the thesis.  

This defense is to be graded PASS/NO PASS. A PASS is required in order to proceed to submission of the final version of the thesis, and therefore is required for graduation from the program. The completed assessment form for this defense should be sent to the departmental student administration with cc to the student advisor.

The Research Master thesis is assessed by at least two persons: a first reader (in most cases the supervisor) and a second reader, both appointed by the Board of Examiners. Both readers use a standard form for their assessment in which the criteria are laid down.

Rough time path

Students planning to graduate by 31 August need to hand in a first, complete version of their thesis by 1 June. The supervisor will then arrange for the defense to take place later in June. The students will have the summer to revise the thesis. By 15 August they must hand in the final version after which the first reader (in general the supervisor) and the second reader can assess it. This allows for sufficient time to officially graduate on 31 August. 
Students are advised to discuss the actual time path with their supervisor as early as possible. Supervisors may have plans for research and may not always be available during the periods when no classes are taught.

Students should be aware that official graduation is NOT the commencement ceremony in which they receive their diploma. If students want to receive their diploma (i.e. the actual paper) before leaving at the end of August, they must officially graduate by 1 August. The time path accordingly shifts by one month.

Students planning to graduate by 31 January need to hand in a first, complete version of their thesis by 1 November. The supervisor will then arrange for the defense to take place later in November or early December. The students will have through the Christmas break to revise the thesis. By 15 January they will have to hand in the final version after which the first reader (in general the supervisor) and the second reader can assess it. This allows for sufficient time to officially graduate on 31 January. 
Students are advised to discuss the actual time path with their supervisor as early as possible. Supervisors may have plans for research and may not always be available during the periods when no classes are taught.

Students should be aware that official graduation is NOT the commencement ceremony in which they receive their diploma. If students want to receive their diploma (i.e. the actual paper) before leaving at the end of January, they need to officially graduate by 2 January. The time path accordingly shifts by one month.

Leiden University Repository

In the future Research Master theses will be archived and made available to the public in the Leiden University Repository.  More information can be found on the website of the University Library.

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