Most frequent questions and answers

In general, we are able to supervise BA and MA theses that have a substantive link to Political Theory and/or International Relations. However, the number of theses we can supervise at the same time is limited.

For submission in August 2019 and November 2019, we regret that all slots have already been filled. For February 2020 (1 slot) and May 2020 (1 slot), a few slots are still available. For August 2020 (3 slots) and November 2020 (4 slots), things look a lot better. [Last updated: 09 July 2019.]

Some students seem to think so, but no. To us, it seems entirely reasonable to ask for “contemporary relevance”. But this phrase simply means you should be able to state why anyone living today should be interested in knowing the answer to your research question.

To give an example: one thesis I recently supervised examined whether the Anglo-Dutch wars of the 17th century really matches the logic of the “Thucydides trap” as suggested by Graham Allison in his eponymous book. This isn’t very contemporary. But it might help us to evaluate a mental model that some have proposed bears relevance for understanding the conflict between the US and a rising China.

It is important that you use one existing reference style (rather than invent a new one) and that you use it consistently (rather than use a different one in each section). HSG generally recommends to use the APA or MLA style.

For your written papers, we usually indicate a maximum number of words you are allowed to write. So, there is no need to squeeze in everything on one page. Use 12pt font Times New Roman (or equivalent size), leave 3cm margins on the right, and use 1.5 lines or double spacing. Make sure your heading levels can be distinguished from each other (it’s useful to number them) and make a reasonable not only of headings and sub-headings, but also of paragraphs to structure your text.

For writing clearly, I recommend William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, on questions of style, you can also consult E.B. White’s The Elements of Style as well as the Chicago Manual of Style. The LSE Writing for Research Blog also offers some useful recommendations and reflections.

Places for supervising PhD students are very scarce, and they entail a commitment over multiple years. Currently, I therefore have a very limited capacity to accept additional PhD candidates, both as first and co-supervisor. If you think your work relates very closely to work we have done or are engaged in, you may nevertheless get in touch and send a proposal of around 10 pages. The proposal should outline your idea, rationale, research strategy and contribution and meet common standards of academic writing.

For internships, positions or for applications for graduate or post-graduate programmes, you may sometimes need a recommendation letter.

If you have visited one of our courses and if letters of recommendation are formally required, we will be happy to provide a reference for you. As writing reference letters takes time, we do not provide letters where they are merely “nice to have” as part of your application package.

If you need a recommendation letter, contact us at least 14 days before you need the letter. E-mail your current grade transcript, a short statement on why you apply where you apply, and on where the letter needs to be sent to and until when. Normally, we do not send letter to students directly, but rather to those who have requested the letter from you.

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