CEDLA/UvA Master Latin American Studies > Research project

In terms of ECs and time input, the Research Project accounts for over half the programme and may be considered the core of the CEDLA’s Master Latin American Studies. The research project trajectory is divided into three stages: Thesis Course 1 and writing of the research proposals; field research in Latin America; and Thesis Course 2. As students are encouraged to conduct research in accordance with their own interests and to elaborate relevant and innovative ideas, the research project trains students in the skills of analysis, critical assessment and design.

Doing research in Latin America is a mandatory requirement of the CEDLA’s Master Latin American Studies. The Master students are supervised by the CEDLA research staff during their fieldwork research and when writing their graduate thesis. Although students choose their own research themes (who their supervisor will be is decided by the research staff), it is advisable to either participate in the ongoing research of research staff members or to further build on the themes and results of past CEDLA research. The follwing link gives an overview of the possibilities for students to do research on the themes of the CEDLA research staff. Please find here the available Resarch Themes.

Stage 1: Thesis Course 1 is designed to prepare students for writing their research proposal and conducting their research in Latin America. Based on the premise that Master students already have some experience with academic research, the course is aimed at refreshing this knowledge, applying it in the Latin American context, placing it in a multidisciplinary perspective and improving students’ writing skills. The core of the course focuses on methods/techniques and operational aspects of conducting research in Latin America. Data collection, analysis, interpretation and conversion into text are the key course elements. All staff members contribute their own research expertise. In ten seminars, methodological principles and tools from different disciplines are presented, applied and discussed. In addition, students are trained in academic writing. 
The skills taught in Thesis Course 1 are assessed by means of assignments that shows students ability to use methods/techniques and that guide students in writing their research proposal. Their research proposal is discussed in class and presented to the staff and other students in different preparation stages. 
After completing the Thesis Course 1, students have some time to refine their research plan in consultation with their tutor/supervisor. By 1 April the research plan must be completed and approved for students to be allowed to travel for their research in May. The CEDLA staff encourages research projects in the framework of the CEDLA research programme. Nevertheless, students are free to choose their own themes in consultation with their supervisor. Taking into account that the Master is open to students who already have a Master’s degree and/or working experience, the staff welcomes research proposals that are related to and/or elaborate on the student’s earlier expertise.

At the end of Thesis Course 1 and in preparation for their field research, students present their proposals to each other and to the teaching staff. Proposal quality is assessed by way of discussions between students and staff members. This format corresponds with the peer review process in use in the social sciences.

Stage 2: Field research
The field research takes place between May and August. Preceding the field research, the supervisor and student have reached clear agreements regarding the research approach, and about how they will remain in touch while the student is in Latin America. These agreements are laid down in the field research contract. During the field research period, the students collect secondary material, conduct interviews, surveys and perform observations or a combination hereof. 
Students report the progress of their field research in two reports that students send to their supervisor half way into their research period and in the week after they return to the Netherlands. These reports also serve to assess and grade the field research. Supervisors discuss the reports with the students orally or in writing and explain their grade.

Stage 3: Thesis Course 2 is designed to encourage and support students in processing their research material and writing their thesis after returning from their research sojourn. It consists of five meetings, organized every two weeks. During the meetings, progress in data analysis and writing are discussed and shared, as are possible problems and their solutions A few days before each meeting, students submit an assignment to the tutor/supervisor. These assignments are the different chapters of the student’s thesis. The students discuss these chapters with their supervisor.

The first draft of the thesis is due by 15 November. The final version of the thesis has to be ready on December 1.