BSc and MSc thesis themes and topics

The PAP group offers a wide variety of interesting BSc and MSc thesis topics. The overview below gives an impression of what the different researchers of PAP have to offer to students. If your interest is with one of the themes and topics listed below, please feel free to directly approach the contact person of the respective topic. If you have a general interest in doing your thesis at the PAP group, please first contact the education coordinator, Dr Robbert Biesbroek.

For opportunities to collaborate in concrete (ongoing) projects, please go to the regularly updated Wageningen University website: You can find examples of completed theses here.

Theme 1: Governance of wicked problems: theories, concepts and methods

Sustainability, climate change, food security, human rights and social injustice are just a few examples of so-called “wicked problems”: societal problems that are not only characterized by sheer complexity but also by controversy on what is the problem and by disagreement on what is the legitimate authority and best governance arrangement to effectively with the problem.

Theme 2: Water governance

Many of today’s water issues, such as drought, availability, flooding, salinization or pollution are not only technical issues but demanding matters of governance. Most water  challenges transcend administrative borders of states and include a wide variety of actors in decision making: citizens, NGO’s, scientists, business, governments, transnational organisations all have a say when it comes to water resource management.

Theme 3: Governance at the boundaries of climate, energy, agriculture, food and water

Food security, obesity or climate change are examples of highly fragmented societal issues. Sectoral policies and instruments only address part of the problem. A popular way of thinking about these fragmented problems is in forms of nexus: different sectors that are linked to the problem or that can contribute to finding a solution to the problem come together in search for ways to collectively solve the challenge.

Theme 4: Food system governance and the right to food

Sustainable production of food and the (right of) access to food are key principles in food system governance. Governance of food is seen as both a challenge and solution to food security. Current (inter)national institutional architectures have failed in producing equitable and just access to food and have been unable to democratise values in food security governance.

Theme 5: Global Governance for sustainability

Sustainability is high on the agenda of global public, business and civil society actors: the expected adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (2015-2030), the increased commitment of multinational agribusiness companies to zero-deforestation, and the call for new forms of public-private governance of sustainability, all signal this.

Theme 6: Informational governance

 Governance of information has become one of the most relevant, complicated, multi-scale and controversial issues in today’s world as a result of  increased capacities to collect, store and share information. A major challenge is to identify governance arrangments that can foster knowledge creation, learning and innovation and social networking but at the same time be responsive to societal concerns on totally free or fully controlled flows of information.

Theme 7: Public administration and policy: theories, methods, concepts

The study of public administration has a long and tradition. Over the years many theories, methods and concepts have been developed to analyse how governments steer around societal issues. This work is often explaining how governments work or ought to work in addressing societal issues,and how they collaborate or should collaborate with business and civil society actors.