The MA Thesis
About the MA Thesis
Students will have the opportunity to write MA theses on a variety of relevant topics with a focus on contemporary debates and controversies. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the programme, MA theses are often written by combining different disciplines and academic fields (for instance law and political philosophy, international relations and theories of global justice, economics and ethics, art and politics, justice and public policy-making, history of political and contemporary thought) and, depending on the research theme, from an analytical and/or continental approach.
Supervisors of the MA thesis generally include various members of academic staff from the Departments of Political and Social Science, Law and Humanities, mainly: Paula Casal, Serena Olsaretti, Andrew Williams, Camil Ungureanu, Sonia Arribas, Josep Lluís Martí, Klaus-Jürgen Nagel, Ferran Requejo, Santiago Zabala and Jahel Queralt.
The MA Thesis is your individual research project and the longest piece of written work you will submit during the course. It should contain no more than 10,000 and fewer than 6,000 words (excluding abstract, notes and references). The topic may fall within any area taught on the MA, provided it is approved by the Academic Board and that adequate supervision can be guaranteed.
Work for your thesis will be on-going throughout the year, in addition to the work you will be doing for the various courses on which you are enrolled. You will initially work on your thesis independently and present some work on it by the end of the course "Research Methods in Political Philosophy". Later, once you have made a final choice of topic and supervisor, you will work mostly with him or her. You can expect to have two consultations with your supervisor, and should be prepared to make the best possible use of them.
The deadlines for various stages of your work on the thesis are as follows (approximately):
1. End of Nov. – the first step: provisional title, general theme, and possible research questions (around 400 words)
- To be handed in to C. Ungureanu (pigeonhole).
- Students are encouraged to contact professors according to their research interests. Whenever a professor organizes a tutorial, the student is strongly advised to prepare it (research on one’s own; reflection on specific problems and questions to be discussed).
2. Mid Jan. - provisional MA thesis proposal.
- 700-800 words without bibliography;
- To be handed in to the coordinator by email
3. Mid Feb. - Handing in of the MA thesis proposal
- 1300-1500 words without bibliography.
- To be handed in to C. Ungureanu by email ([email protected]);
- Students should also propose two supervisors according to their preference.
4. Mid February. - Choosing the supervisor
- The MA Comission takes the decision concerning the tutors by balancing three criteria: student's preference, expertise and demand.
- From now on, students will start working with the tutors. In March and April students will have to hand in their work according to the deadlines set by tutors
5. Beginning May – rough draft
- 2800-3000 words without bibliography (Title, Introduction, a detailed outline of the first and second chapters).
- To be handed in to the tutor.
6. Beginning June – full thesis draft
- To be handed in to the tutor
7. Mid June – final draft
- To be handed in to the secretary in pdf, and to the tutor by email;
- The final draft should contain a title page and an abstract.
8. End June - oral or video defence
- The oral presentation takes around 8 minutes in front of a Comission made of two professors, ans it's followed by a short Q & A
- students can also make a video presentation. In this case, the evaluation will be based on the video, and it will be made by the Comission.
About the marking/grading process
40% of the mark given to the thesis will come from your supervisors' assessment, based on these assessment criteria. Another 40% will come from a second reader (another member of the MA faculty). The remaining 20% of the final grade will come from the assessment of the two members of the Master Committee, which convenes at the end of June to hear students' defence of their theses and discuss the quality of the documents handed in by the student one week before the hearing.
The defence consists of a short presentation (5 minutes) of the main research question, hypotheses and results of your thesis. Students are allowed to use a powerpoint presentation and the presentation has to be in English. The thesis is worth 20 ETCS (1/3) of the Master's programme.
Please bear in mind this list of Do's and Don'ts when writing and submitting your work.
- Clear Research Question
- Relevant discussion, answering the research question and keeping to the point
- Topic covered in depth
- Clear conclusion
- Uninformative introduction which fails to provide information about the content
-Includes many points of little or no relevance
- Superficial or incomplete
- Unclear conclusion
- Plenty of discussion and argument
- Considers and compares opposing views
- Opinions are backed up by evidence
- Accurate presentation of evidence
- Logically-developed arguments
- Essay is only descriptive or only considers one view
- Opinions are merely stated
- Evidence is questionable or inaccurate
- Essay rambles and lacks continuity
- Original in setting out the arguments, creative, imaginative
- Provides new arguments and examples
- Completely derivative
- Lacking personal contribution
- Fluent and clear prose
- Succinct writing, phrases/paragraphs
- Clumsily written, unclear
- Unnecessarily long and repetitive, too many adjectives
- Legible and well set out
- Required length
- Untidy, full of typos, missing punctuation
- Too long or too short
- Grammatically correct sentences
- Correct spelling throughout
- Grammatical mistakes
- Incorrect spelling
Timing of completion of the work:
- Before deadline
- After deadline
The Department of Social and Political Sciences will not tolerate plagiarism, copying or active or passive collaboration in this type of dishonest behaviour in papers written by our students. The penalty for plagiarism will be immediate failure of the course. Furthermore, the University will initiate proceedings against the student that could lead to his/her expulsion from the Master.
We consider plagiarism to be the use of someone else's words without referencing the source or including the information in quotation marks or a block quote; using someone else's ideas without referencing the source or copying papers written by other students.