Course code EDS312

EDS312 Research Methods

Norsk emneinformasjon

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2019 - 2020 .

Course responsible: Elisabeth Molteberg
Teachers: Grete Benjaminsen, Christin Marsh Ormhaug
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:
M-DS, M-IES and M-IR
Course contents:
The course addresses methodological issues and develops competence and skills related to research methods relevant to the three master's programs M-IES, M-IDS, and M-IR, with main emphasis on social science methods. In addition to preparing students for their own master's thesis work, it aims to provide a theoretical understanding of qualitative and quantitative approaches to research design, sampling, data collection, and analysis, and of their epistemological underpinnings and pre-analytical assumptions. In relation to this, issues of interdisciplinary and combining quantitative and qualitative approaches are discussed. Data collection methods and research design formats include qualitative interviewing, observation, text analysis (content, discourse analysis), case study research and ethnography,  archive research and document analysis, quantitative survey research, use of visual methods and action/participatory research. The course offers a basic introduction to the use of the statistics software program R.
Learning outcome:

Knowledge, competence: The student has a good understanding of main qualitative and quantitative research tools and approaches in the fields of environment, development and international relations. This includes

  • the characteristics of quantitative and qualitative research questions and design, and the similarities and differences in the logic underpinning these strategies
  • the possibilities and limitations of qualitative and quantitative methods of sampling, data collection, and analysis
  • the quality criteria of qualitative and quantitative research; how 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 develops skills in research design and planning, and is encouraged to experiment with and reflect on use of design and methods tools, and 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
  • critically reflect on methodological challenges in own and other 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. Development of academic writing skills and understanding of genre requirements is emphasized


  • awareness and critical reflection on research implications and consequences of own epistemological leanings and pre-analytical  assumptions, as well as choices and actions when conducting and consuming 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 all aspects of qualitative and quantitative research: topical and conceptual development, design and planning, sampling, data collection and management, analysis, and reporting.
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 term paper writing is encouraged.

Textbook autumn parallel: Bryman, A. (2016). Social research methods. UK: Oxford Univ Press. 5th edition.

Textbook spring parallel: Field, A., J. Miles, Z. Fields (2012). Discovering statistics using R. London: Sage.

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. Attendance is mandatory at first lecture of each course module. Attendance throughout is in practice mandatory due to compulsory activities 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).
Individual term paper on qualitative research in autumn parallel, counting for 35% of course grade; individual research paper on quantitative research in spring parallel, counting for 35% of course grade. Multiple choice quiz and individual paper on methodology at end of spring parallel, counting for 30% of course grade. All hand-ins and papers are given and submitted IN ENGLISH ONLY.
Nominal workload:
450 hours
Entrance requirements:
Minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway (generell studiekompetanse)
Type of course:
1x2 lecture hours per week during autumn parallell + 2x2 lecture hours per week during spring parallell (a total of around 80 hours). Lectures and seminars/workshops with practical exercises and simulations of quantitative and qualitative research design, sampling, data collection, and analysis. In addition, students will do group and individual independent work. The total number of working hours for students is about 450 hours.
Every student must have access to a portable computer where statistics software program "R" can be downloaded.
Examination details: Continuous exam: A - E / F