PART 6: FACULTY RESEARCH PAPER REGULATIONS - Bachelor of Political Science (Major European & World Politics: IP, EU and C&D) and Preparatory Programmes and Linking Programmes EU Studies and Political Science (both main subjects)

Article 1. Objectives

§1 A research Paper is the capstone of the Bachelor's degree programme, in which the student independently further develops and integrates the knowledge and skills built up in the various course units. The importance attached to the Research Paper is reflected in the high number of credits (more credits than a regular course). A supervisor and one commissioner, in accordance with the assessment criteria mentioned in Article 4 (and appendix), assess a research paper.

§2 A research paper aims to be a paper in which the entire research cycle is completed on a political science topic. It requires a thoroughly detailed overview of the literature, the formulation of a political problem and research question, an adequate research design, an exploratory empirical study and conclusions and reflections on the research conducted. The purpose of the exploratory research is to understand the problem better, to find possible answers to the research question, and to adjust and concretise the research design based on the insights gained. A more complete answer to the research question can be sought in follow-up research (the Master's dissertation for example).

§3 Exceptionally, with the express permission of a supervisor, a research paper can also only make a theoretical contribution without using empirical data. In that case, other guidelines apply to, among other things, the structure of the paper, the assessment criteria and the progress assignments. A supervisor is responsible for clearly communicating these guidelines to the student who is writing a purely theoretical research paper.

§4 In contrast to the papers for some other course units, a research paper is an individual work. However, this does not exclude that several students may work on different aspects of the same broad subject, or that they may discuss their progress in group meetings.

Article 2. Method

2.1. Guidance

1 With regard to a research paper, we make a distinction between the actual research paper and the process (including mandatory assignments).

§2 Each student is guided by a supervisor (a member of the professorial staff or post-doctoral researcher / post-doctoral assistant). The supervisor is a member of the department of Political Sciences or Conflict and Development. Assistants and scientific staff with the necessary experience and expertise and/or staff from other departments may also be involved in the supervision under the final responsibility of the supervisor.

§3 The supervisor follows the guidance procedure as discussed in article 6.

§4 A supervisor may establish additional deadlines to the general deadlines mentioned above for specific steps when preparing the research paper. These are presented to students at the start of research paper process.

2.2. Choice of a research theme and supervisor

§5 Possible subjects are presented in the first week of the academic year, during an information session (see 6.2.). Suggestions for topics are also published by the supervisors via the application "Research paper", which can be found on the information site on Ufora. After the information session, students can obtain information from the supervisors about the proposed subjects in the second or third week of the academic year (see 6.2.); students can, of course, also formulate a proposal themselves and submit it for approval to a supervisor.

§6 In order to be able to guarantee high-quality supervision of a research paper, the research theme is situated as much as possible in the field / research domain of the supervisor. The aim is to ensure a solid distribution of the students among the various potential supervisors.

§7 Each student communicates the chosen proposal via the online application “Plato”, as well as the name of the supervisor. The proposed supervisor gives explicit approval for this. This means that the student has to receive the approval of the supervisor first before submitting the proposal via Plato.

§8 Submission date 1th session: check the FSA website:

§9 Anyone who does not meet this deadline will be excluded from participation in the first session for the Research Paper. To participate in the second session you also have to register in Plato.

See also:

2.3. Approval of research theme and supervisor

§10 The supervisor's approval (requested to submit the research theme) counts as approval of the proposal.

2.4. Submitting the Research Paper

§11 A research paper is to be submitted electronically  on Plato (pdf format). The supervisor can request a hard copy if necessary (two copies, printed on both sides, no plastic folders, covers or rings). The paper should be submitted according to the same modalities in the resit period. These modalities can be deviated from in case of specific measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This will be communicated through Ufora.

§12 If a research paper is not submitted before the specified date, the student concerned is not admissible for the deliberation, except in the case of force majeure. The supervisor, in consultation with the chair of the examination committee, decides if the reason of force majeure is valid.

2.5. Oral defense

§13 A research paper comprises a written report. Students do not have to orally defend or present this paper.

2.6 The evaluation procedure

§14 The supervisor and one commissioner, in accordance with the assessment criteria mentioned in Article 4 and appendix, assess a Research Paper. The study programme committee appoints a commissioner. The final grade is the average of the grade of the supervisor and the commissioner. The final score is determined on the basis of the assessment of the written version of the research paper by the supervisor and commissioner and the assessment of the oral defence. If there is a significant discrepancy of 4 or more points between the supervisor's and commissioner's assessment, a third assessor will be appointed.

§15 The assignments with regard to progress are evaluated by the supervisor.

2.7. Feedback

§15 Each student is entitled to feedback on his/her paper. After the examination results announcement of the first and/or second examination period, the supervisor will provide an opportunity for feedback.

Article 3. The format of the paper

3.1 General form requirements

§1 A research paper takes the form of a fully completed study, including a literature review, problem definition and research question, research design, explorative empirical research and conclusions and reflections.

3.2 Structure

a) Front pieces
- Title page (a standard title page is used. A template is made available on Ufora)
- Abstract (min. 150 words, max. 250 words, Dutch)
- Word Count

b) Recommended corpus
- Introduction: situating the theme and explaining its scientific and social relevance
- Literature review: analytical and critical discussion of the existing literature on the theme which leads to a problem definition.
- Problem definition: general definition of the phenomenon to be investigated, including specific research question and possibly subquestions
- Research design: justification of the choice of the chosen research type, data, and analysis Methods.
- Explorative empirical research: a provisional answer to the research question is formulated on the basis of the data examined.
- Conclusions: feedback of the empirical findings to the state of the literature, critical reflection on the choices made in the research and suggestions for further research.

c) Back pieces
- References
- Possible attachments

3.3 Source reference

§3 The APA system has to be used for source reference (see APA manual on Ufora). If mainly legal sources are used, in particular legislation and case law, the source references and citation methods and abbreviation applicable in law are be applied.

3.4 Size

§4 The paper contains between 8,000 and 15,000 words (abstract, tables, bibliography, footnotes and possible attachments not included). The number of words (word count) is stated on the title page.

! These minima and maxima may not be exceeded under any circumstances. If this is the case, the research paper will be declared inadmissible.

Article 4. Assessment criteria

§1 The assessment criteria are laid out in the Research Paper Assessment Form (see appendix). For the evaluation of the '"Education research paper", a separate rubric for the assessment of the educational (research) competences is to be completed.

Article 5. Originality, scientific transparency, language and plagiarism

5.1. Originality

§1 A research paper requires a certain originality of the student. The student is expected to contribute to the academic knowledge of a theme on the basis of his own exploratory empirical research.

5.2. Scientific transparency

§2 In scientific work all assertions always have to be properly and clearly substantiated. The writer has to enable the reader to follow the argumentation well and to estimate the scientific value and scope of each statement.

This means that for his or her own ideas the writer has to make clear how he / she constructed these ideas (one’s own experience, data collection (how was the data collected ?; where ?; when ?; etc.). With each use of the ideas or empirical findings of others, the writer has to refer to the source (s) used in an adequate manner. He / she also has to make a clear distinction between one's own summary / interpretation and the literal citation of a source.

5.3. Language of course Research paper

§3 A research paper is written in Dutch. Upon simple request and with the supervisor's approval, the research paper can also be written in English or French. When a research paper is written in English or French, a summary in Dutch is required.

5.4. Plagiarism

§4 With regard to irregularities with regard to a research paper / Master's dissertation, or with regard to other forms of (written) reporting, the Faculty has drawn up Faculty Plagiarism Regulations (see Part 9 of the FOER). Students have to follow these regulations thoroughly.

Article 6. Progress process

6.1. Logic

 The course “Research Paper” comprises progress sessions consisting of information sessions and work meetings on the one hand, the end product (the actual research paper) on the other hand. Both the assignments for the sessions and the actual Research Paper are evaluated.

§2 During the progress process, formal assignments are given in function of the development of the actual research paper (see 6.2.). The purpose of this, in addition to guaranteeing the progress and quality of the research paper, is to learn how to organise, elaborate and defend one’s own (research) project ("project management").

§3 In addition to the formal supervision activities, individual supervision is also possible by the supervisor or his or her employees at the request of students.

6.2. Practical implementation of the progress process

§4 Various formal steps are provided in the supervision of the progress process:

1) Introductory session

- Classroom session in the first few weeks of the first semester for all students following the course.

- Presentation of the course “research paper”, the different guidance phases, possible research topics and supervisors, the procedure for choosing a supervisor and the assessment criteria used.

2) Information moment per supervisor

- During the weeks following the introductory sessions, during the consultation hours of supervisors, or during a collective session with interested students.

- The aim of this session is to have exploratory discussions about the choice of a research topic..

Registering supervisor and research question on Plato: see FSA website: and

3) Progress session 1: project proposal

- This session takes place before 1 December, during one session per supervisor, or in a collective session with several supervisors

- Students give an explanation of their theme and preliminary problem based on a short text of 2 to 3 pages. In this document, they also briefly discuss which module(s) in the subject of Methods in Political Science they want to follow in function of their problem definition. This document also mentions relevant scientific literature on the theme that provides inspiration for working towards a problem definition (2 to 3 inspiring texts). Although it is still work-in-progress, this document is an official draft (with references, a clear paragraph structure, etc.).

- The aim of this meeting is to make students think about how they can evolve from a broad theme to their own problem definition on the basis of existing literature at an early stage, in addition to adjusting their writing style and reference technique. The supervisor can advise whether the texts proposed by the student fit in well with the chosen theme and whether the student is on the right track to find an interesting problem, building on the literature. During the feedback, the supervisor also gives advice on the modules of the subject of Methods in Political Sciences proposed by the student. Submission of the notes: at the latest 1 week before the meeting, via 'student publications' on Ufora.

4) Progress session 2: Research design

- This session takes place before 1 March, one session per supervisor, or in a collective session with several supervisors.

- On the basis of a short document of 2 to 3 pages, students give an explanation about the preliminary research question (and possibly sub-questions) to which they want to find an answer in the context of the selected problem definition, and about the research design that they want to use for this (including the method and data that they want to use). They justify their choices and consider the pros and cons and their feasibility.

- The aim of this meeting is to determine whether the student has come up with an interesting and feasible research question, whether the intended research design is appropriate for this research question, and how the student subsequently plans to carry out the research. After this session, students should be ready to commence the exploratory empirical research.

- Submission of the note: at the latest 1 week before the meeting, via 'student publications' on Plato.

Submitting final paper, for dates see website FSA:

6.3. Alternative trajectory per supervisor

§5 Supervisors may also choose to deviate from the approach described above and, for example, only organise individual sessions, or use a different timing. This alternative trajectory has to monitor the progress of the students and evaluate (including via the assignments mentioned above) and guide them in the same manner.

6.4. Alternative trajectory for outgoing exchange students

§6 These students cannot be exempted from the assignments with regard to the progress process.

§7 The progress sessions are completed in writing maintaining the same deadlines. A supervisor can give feedback on the submitted documents via mail or Skype.

§8 Exchange students inform their supervisor about their stay abroad at the start of the academic year.

6.5. Grading

§9 In order to pass this course unit, the student has to obtain at least half of the points for the paper. If this condition is not met, the student obtains a grade that is lower than 10/20. If this condition is met, the grade is calculated as the sum of the two, with progress orders accounting for 15% and the paper for 85%.

§10 Participation in the sessions, as well as the quality of the two assignments are assessed. In addition, they can only obtain half of the points foreseen for the progress process if they respect the deadlines, submit serious notes and participate in the sessions. In order to achieve more than half of the points, they have to make substantial content contributions.

§11 Students who do not participate in the progress sessions receive 0 out of 3 for this part of the course. They are not excluded from submitting their research paper.

§12 For the assessment of the assignments, see the below guidelines:

- Session 1:

o Interesting theme?
o Good choice and discussion of inspiring texts?
o Incitement to a politically sensitive problem?
o Reflecting on which module of the course Methods in Political Science best fits the problem?
o Clear writing style

- Session 2:

o Interesting and feasible research question? o Adequate research design? o Logical structure? o Good impetus for empirical research?

6.6. Second exam session

§13 There is NO second exam chance for the progress assignments (which consist of non-periodic evaluations). The grades for the progress assignments are taken over to the second session.

§14 Those who do not participate in the progress assignments receive a 0 in 3, but are not excluded from submitting the actual research paper in the second exam session.

6.7. Disease

§15 In case of illness (legitimised with a letter of illness), a specific arrangement will be worked out in consultation with the supervisor - if this is practically possible and in line with the logic of the progress format.

§16 The sickness regulations as applicable to exams also apply.

Article 7. Additional requirement for those who failed the research paper and have to resubmit it at a later time

Students who did not pass the research paper and who resubmit at a later date, have to add a separate document, in which they (a) provide an overview of the changes made, and in which they (b) indicate how they have taken the reports and the comments on the earlier version into account.


Research Paper Assessment Form