The second week of my Master of Research has been interesting.

I have completed all the bulk of my data-driven research, or at least enough to proceed. Last week I made a dataset of directly-elected heads of state, heads of government, and legislators. This week I reviewed the constitutions of each country to determine what “nationality-based” limitations, if any, exist for those public offices.

Generally, I have found the following nationality-based limitations:

  • Total and permanent prohibitions on naturalised citizens standing for office.
  • Minimum periods that must elapse before a naturalised citizen is eligible for election, ranging from four years to 25 years.
  • Minimum residency periods that may disproportionately affect naturalised citizens.
  • Requirements that a person be solely the citizen of the country in which they are standing for election.
  • Requirements relating to the citizenship of a person’s parents.
  • Requirements relating to the citizenship of a person’s spouse.

Having completed this part of the research, my attention has now turned to my literature review, where I will need to examine what other authors have already written on the subject. At the start of the week I had some doubts about my research topic, but having reviewed a few commentaries on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, I am feeling more confident that I have an original and uncharted area of human rights law. In other words, I think there’s a “gap in the literature” for me to fill.

I also had my first meeting with my supervisor, Sarah. I was a little apprehensive because I hadn’t met her before. Sarah was not my first choice of supervisor for that reason alone. I initially chose my international human rights law lecturer, Carolyn, because she was familiar with the topic and my writing already, but she was on leave. The Law School was quite accommodating in quickly arranging a replacement for me.

Having a supervisor is quite different to having a lecturer. I have had many coursework teachers, and have simply not gelled with some of them. This is normal, I think, but they’re usually one teacher of a handful, so the relationship is more distant and diluted. With a supervisor you have a much closer working relationship.

Fortunately Sarah and I got on well and have a similar outlook when it comes to research and writing practices. We agreed that I should aim to have a few thousand words of my literature review prepared by the end of February, giving me about six weeks of reading and writing time. After that there will be about a month or so until the literature review is due.

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