Course code EDS312

EDS312 Research Methods

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2022 - 2023 .

Course responsible: Elisabeth Molteberg
Teachers: Cassandra Edson Bergstrøm, Lars Kåre Grimsby
ECTS credits: 15
Faculty: Faculty of Landscape and Society
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
This course starts in Autumn parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Autumn parallel, Spring parallel.
Course frequency: Annually
First time: Study year 2012-2013
Preferential right:
Course contents:

EDS312 is a broad introductory course in research methods at master’s level. Having completed the course, students will have been able to acquire basic research competence and skills relevant to the master's programs M-IES, M-GDS, and M-IR, with main emphasis on social science methods and interdisciplinarity-related methodology issues. They are able to prepare and carry out their own master's thesis research, and they have a general understanding of how choices and execution of research design, sampling, data collection, and analysis have implications to what knowledge claims they can make and defend, as well as ethical implications. To this end, research ethics, epistemological premises and pre-analytical assumptions shaping research are discussed, and issues of interdisciplinary and combining quantitative and qualitative strategies are addressed.

Students are able to acquire a basic understanding of, and limited skills training in, the following research methods and design features: quantitative research design, sampling, data collection, and statistical analysis; qualitative sample selection, qualitative interviewing, observation and text analysis (content, discourse analysis), archive research and document analysis, qualitative data analysis, use of some visual methods. Case study design, ethnography, and participatory action research are discussed.

Learning outcome:

Knowledge, competence: The student has a good understanding of main qualitative and quantitative research tools and approaches used in the fields of environment, development and international relations. The student can make thesis research choices informed by their understanding of:

  • the characteristics of quantitative and qualitative research questions and design, the similarities and differences in the logic underpinning these strategies, and potential implications of combining them
  • the possibilities and limitations of qualitative and quantitative methods of sampling, data collection, and analysis
  • the quality criteria of qualitative and quantitative research; in what ways good research design and practices promote empirically and theoretically strong research outcomes
  • meta-theoretical debates and philosophical issues related to interdisciplinarity and mixed-methods research
  • ethical considerations and methodological challenges related to research involving humans, including power relations in research, positionality, and representation issues

Skills: The student has a basic set of skills in research design and planning, and in application of research methods they chose to apply in course assignments. To the extent the student has taken advantage of the opportunity given in the course to experiment with and reflect on use of design and methods tools, and on the significance of methods choices made to the quality of results, the student is able to

  • formulate good research questions and hypotheses for an empirical study
  • create a theoretical/conceptual framework for an empirical study, incorporating relevant literature
  • develop a robust design and carry out a Master's-level research study, selecting appropriate research methods and justifying methodological choices made
  • effectively apply and evaluate methods for sampling, data collection and analysis
  • evaluate the quality of published qualitative and quantitative research
  • critically reflect on methodological challenges in own and published research involving humans, including ethical and quality issues and demands
  • effectively communicate own research problems, objectives, research design, findings, and conclusions in proposal and thesis. Further develop academic writing skills and familiarity with genre.

Attitudes: The student is aware of, and able to, critically reflect on trustworthiness/validity and ethical implications of own epistemological leanings and pre-analytical assumptions, and of own choices and actions when conducting and using research. The student has a clear understanding of the importance of consciously and meticulously addressing these matters in their own studies and research.

Learning activities:
The course is oriented towards practice. Knowledge of methodology issues and practical skills towards proposal and thesis construction are acquired through a combination of lectures and discussion, exercises, and assignments covering central aspects of qualitative and quantitative research: topical and conceptual development, review of methodology in research literature, design and planning, sampling, data collection and management, analysis, reporting, and peer review.
Teaching support:
Ample time for teacher input and guidance is set aside during teaching hours, support is provided during work on assignments. Additional information and communication through Canvas and via e-mail, appointments for further teacher contact can be made if needed. Use of the Writing Center for support in assignment writing is encouraged.

Textbook: Clark, T. et al. (2021). Bryman's social research methods. UK: Oxford Univ Press. 6th edition. Previous editions of the book diverge from this one and are not fully acceptable alternatives.

Further compulsory literature will be made available by the start of each course module (autumn, spring parallel).

Bachelor's degree or equivalent
Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:
Group and/or individual assignments and hand-ins on qualitative and quantitative research methods and on research methodology.Attendance is mandatory for first lecture of each course module, and any other lectures specified in the syllabus and course schedule. Attendance throughout is necessary, as activities related to mandatory assignments are carried out in classes.

Approval of all mandatory activities is required for receipt of a course grade. The course grade is not released to students who have failed to hand in their signed plagiarism forms to Noragric (normally done during program introduction course).

  • Autumn parallel, quantitative methods module:
    • Written assignment on quantitative research methods, counting 25% towards course grade
    • Multiple choice test on quantitative research methods, counting 10% towards course grade
  • Spring parallel, qualitative methods module:
    • Written assignment on qualitative research methods consisting of several smaller installments throughout semester, total collection of installments counting 40% towards course grade
    • Multiple choice test on qualitative research methods, counting 15% towards course grade
  • Spring parallel, methodology module:
    • Multiple choice test on methodology and research ethics, counting 10% towards course grade

Passing the course requires a passing grade on all graded assignments and tests. All assignments and tests are given and submitted IN ENGLISH ONLY.

Nominal workload:
375 hours
Entrance requirements:
Minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway (generell studiekompetanse)
Type of course:
1x2 class hours per week during autumn parallell + 2x2 class hours per week during spring parallell (a total of around 80 hours). Teaching has a blended format: contents are conveyed through readings, some pre-recorded and some in-class lectures, and practical exercises and simulations of quantitative and qualitative research activities. In addition, students do group and/or individual independent work.
External examiner is involved in formulation of graded assignments and in evaluation of a selection of graded written assignments.
Examination details: Portfolio: Letter grades