With the thesis you write in the second semester you demonstrate your ability to independently conduct historical research. The foundation for your thesis is an academic research question: a question which is subject of an academic debate but which is not yet fully answered. In the thesis you provide a contribution to that answer by systematically analyzing a corpus of primary sources. You report your findings according the rules of the academic field.
Preparations for the thesis start in study period 2, in the second part of the course 'Research Methods and Design'. You register for one of the six themes offered, all six related to the core of the master's programme: democracy, citizenship, collective action, the welfare state, capitalism/the market, and resilient societies. For each theme a group of around six students is formed. Together with your fellow students and supervised by one of the teachers, you study the general literature on the theme. Within that theme you choose the subject for your own thesis and formulate your research question, which should be embedded in the debates in the academic literature. Subsequently, you develop the design of your thesis: you define the theoretical framework, determine which method you are going to use, select relevant sources, and decide how you will analyze them. Thus, at the end of study period 2, your thesis is ready. In periods 3 and 4 you do the actual research and write the thesis.
You will, of course, receive intensive supervision on the way. There will be regular meetings with your thesis supervisor to discuss your research question, research design and draft versions of chapters you have written. In addition there will be opportunities for peer review with your fellow students. During the preparations in study period 2 peer review takes place in the groups formed in the course 'Research Methods and Design'. In the second semester, these groups will also meet occasionally. In addition, you will receive feedback from your fellow students in the 'Thesis Lab': a series of meetings for all students working on their thesis.
Digital thesis archive
You are required to upload your Master’s thesis to Utrecht University Library's digital thesis archive. This archive is also an interesting reference point to see what your fellow students have submitted. You can search or sort through it by faculty or study programme.