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.

Forms and procedures master's thesis

Your Master's thesis will be assessed following specific evaluation procedures. You can prepare for this by reading the following documents and explanations prior to starting your thesis.

All theses will be evaluated by two separate evaluators. If your supervisor is a professor connected to your Master's programme, he/she will also be the first evaluator. 

Your Master's thesis will be evaluated using a standardised assessment form (pdf). In some cases a third evaluator will be asked to assess your paper. This third evaluator will use another form (pdf) to evaluate your thesis.

Utrecht University considers any form of academic dishonesty to be a serious offense. Utrecht University expects each student to be familiar with and to observe the norms and values that ensure academic integrity.

Therefore, when you start writing your thesis you will have to hand in the Plagiarism rules awareness statement (pdf). With this, you declare to know about and abide by the norms and rules on fraud and plagiarism of Utrecht University. When your professor or supervisor suspects fraud or plagiarism, they will notify the board of examiners by filling in this form (Dutch, pdf).