Master thesis procedure

Guidelines for the Master MA-thesis

The MA-thesis is a written report of research which the student has carried out under supervision of a lecturer, but with a high degree of independence. The MA-thesis is the final project before graduation in the Master. The MA-thesis has a course load of 20 EC.

Regulations concerning the procedure surrounding the MA-thesis are determined by the Faculty of Humanities.

MA-thesis supervisor

The supervisor will be appointed by the Board of Examiners, based on the topic of the MA-thesis. The supervisor must be an expert in the field of research covering the MA-thesis topic. The first reader bears primary responsibility for the supervision of the MA-thesis writing.


  1. Students start thinking about a research topic from the start of their MA-studies.
    Students are free to contact a staff member from the department of Arts and Culture for advise.

  2. When a student has an idea about a topic, he or she asks one of the staff members to be the supervisor.
    When both supervisor and student agree, they fill out the MA-thesis form together.
    If you are not sure about any aspect of starting your MA-thesis (e.g. who you might approach as a possible supervisor), you need to contact the studies coordinator for advice.

  3. The student hands in the form to the studies coordinator during the first semester of their MA-study: before 15 November or before 15 April (depending on starting date).

  4. The Board of Examiners decides if the supervisor and MA-thesis topic are suitable and officially appoints the supervisor.

  5. Please note: The supervisor is appointed until the end of the Academic year (or the end of January in case the student started the Master in February). When a student has not graduated by the end of that period, he or she needs to file a request to the Board of Examiners in order to extend the period of supervision.

  6. The supervisor advices the Board of Examiners about a suitable second reader. The board officially appoints a second reader. The second reader reads and evaluates the final version of the MA-thesis. He or she is not involved in the supervision process.

Format MA-thesis

The MA-thesis of the programme Arts and Culture counts for 20 EC. This comes to 17.000 words, excl. notes, references, appendices, and illustrations (or 20.000 words all included; circa 40 pages with line spacing 1.5). The MA-thesis should be written in English.

Please take a look at the guidelines for more information (preferred lay-out, structure, references, do's and don'ts).

Fraud and Plagiarism

Fraud is regarded to mean any action or negligence carried out by a student aimed at completely or partially hindering a correct assessment of the student’s knowledge, understanding and skills. When a MA-thesis supervisor or second reader discover a case of fraud or suspicion of fraud, he or she is obliged to report this to the Board of Examiners.

For more information on fraud and plagiarism and the disciplinary sanctions that can be imposed by the Board of Examiners, please consult Article 6.5 of the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Examiners.

Deadlines for handing in your MA-thesis

Graduation date: 31 August 2016
Friday 27 May 2016: First (complete) version: Feedback will be given by your supervisor.
Monday 20 June 2016: Final and complete version of your MA-thesis.

Graduation date: 31 January 2017
Monday 14 November 2016: First (complete) version: Feedback will be given by your supervisor.
Monday 19 December 2016: Final and complete version of your MA-thesis.

Graduation date: 31 August 2017
Monday 29 May 2017: First (complete) version: Feedback will be given by your supervisor.
Monday 19 June 2017: Final and complete version of your MA-thesis.

Submitting your MA-thesis before these deadlines will guarantee feedback from your supervisor before the holidays and will allow you to graduate in time.

Finishing your MA-thesis

Student Repository and Blackboard
Students are required to hand in two paper versions: one for the supervisor and one for the second advisor/reader. They also need to upload the MA-thesis in the Blackboard module 5794MATH via Turnitin (Assignments).

Further, students are required to upload the final version of their MA-thesis in the Student Repository.

The Student Repositoryforms an independent part of the Leiden Repository and offers an online archive that makes Leiden University student MA-theses easily searchable and publicly available (when desired). Students have to fill in the form of consent for the publication of a MA-thesis and hand the form in at the student administration (Huizinga-building/Room 0.01).

The evaluation form is used in grading the MA-thesis. It lists the specific criteria supervisors and readers will use in the evaluation of your MA-thesis. As a student you have the right to consult the forms completed by the first reader/supervisor and the second reader.

Go to the evaluation form.

There is no MA-thesis defense. When you have handed in your final version and your supervisor and second reader are ready to give you your grade, you can request a final meeting to discuss the results.

Finishing the MA-thesis is in most cases the final step before graduation. Students who want to graduate need to take into account the graduation procedure.

The graduation ceremony usually takes place in the first week of October and the first week of March. You will be informed about the specific date and time when you hand in your graduation form.

Last Modified: 06-06-2016