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Research Seminar in International Development


Credits: 4 ECTS

Second semester

Compulsory courses




This course provides a broad introduction to qualitative research in the social sciences. Its main focus is on issues of research design. As such, the course will be less concerned with introducing students to specific methodological techniques (e.g., interviewing, archival work, participant observation). Rather, the course is primarily about the essential logic that underpins social scientific research. You will learn about how to come up with a research question, how to construct theories and translate them into testable hypotheses, how to think about research questions in terms of variables, how to select cases that are appropriate to answer your research question, how to move from concepts and theories to the measurement of empirical indicators, and how to make descriptive and causal inferences. At the same time, you will learn to think critically about all these different elements of research design in academic literature you read more widely.

During the first nine sessions of the course, we have regular seminar classes covering the different building blocks of research design. During the last three classes, we discuss previously circulated student research proposals.

The course builds on the methods course you have taken in the first semester in two key ways: first, it focuses on qualitative rather than quantitative research design and methods; and second, it emphasizes the application of what we are studying to your own final research projects.


Evaluation details:

  • Theory and hypotheses (c.1000 words): 25%
  • Presentation of draft proposal during the last three classes: 10%
  • Discussion of another student’s draft proposal: 15%
  • Final dissertation research proposal (c.2000 words): 50%

Competences, learning outcomes and teaching activities (PDF)