Course code PAE306

PAE306 Agroecology: Action oriented research

Norsk emneinformasjon

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2022 - 2023 .

Course responsible: Anna Marie Nicolaysen
Teachers: Vebjørn Egner Stafseng, Geir Hofgaard Lieblein, Tor Arvid Breland
ECTS credits: 10
Faculty: Faculty of Biosciences
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
Spring parallel and June block. The seminars will be given in the Spring parallel with submission of the master’s thesis proposal and the field research report in the end of May.
Course frequency: Annually
First time: Study year 2022-2023
Preferential right:
Course contents:

In this course students will prepare a master’s thesis proposal and a field research report. The focus is on the introduction to a thesis research project, choice of topic, research questions, methods for data collection and annotated bibliography. The course offers students the possibility to acquaint themselves with participatory action research, field research methods, in particular a range of qualitative methods and basic quantitative methods. The course gives emphasis to issues of complexity and change, and challenges of doing research in unfamiliar situations and locations. Critical reflection on various approaches for data collection and analysis, and on the relationship between specific research problems and related methods will be essential.

Attention is given to:

  • the participatory action research process;
  • challenges of doing action research, how to schedule the work, resources;
  • basic understanding of epistemological and methodological issues;
  • the strengths and weaknesses of different methods for data collection, analysis, and processing;
  • choice of appropriate sample: selection of case(s)/participants and sampling within cases;
  • reflection on field research and ethics;
  • writing: the thesis proposal; how to present and report field research
Learning outcome:

After completion of this course students are expected to have the following knowledge, skills and general competences:


  • Can design a thesis research proposal
  • Know how get an overview of an area of research and present relevant literature related to this
  • Can describe the topic of the master’s thesis research within this area
  • Can describe the purpose of the topic and why it is relevant
  • Can develop research questions and argue for this choice of questions
  • Know how to present yourself to others as a researcher, the instrument through which we view the world
  • Have knowledge about the ethics of action research
  • Can design and conduct action research using the range of qualitative and quantitative methods and techniques introduced in the course


  • Ability to describe the research strategy and methods
  • Ability to define the core terms in the work and explain how you will "measure" them
  • Ability to describe what kind of research this is, what the data sources are, what methods will be used for data collection, and why?
  • Ability to assess the strengths and limitations of a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods and their complementarity in action research contexts
  • Ability to assess the use of different research methods, techniques and procedures of analysis
  • Ability to systematically record, organise, code and analyse empirical field material
  • Ability to critically reflect on the various approaches for data collection and analysis, and on the relationship between specific research problems and related methods that you have become familiar with
  • Ability to discuss the reliability and validity of the study and the results

General competences

  • Ability to take the proper steps for handling of personal data in research and data management plans
  • Ability to reflect on and critique the research process and what you learned about the techniques and about yourself as a researcher
  • Ability to give your fellow students peer feedback in a positive and constructive way
  • Ability to write a master’s thesis proposal
  • Ability to report research that builds on own findings.
Learning activities:
Course contents are conveyed through presentations and workshops combined with individual and group work, with a strong emphasis on discussion and exercises. The exercises are scheduled as part of the preparation of the thesis proposal and the field research report, in order to facilitate an active learning process. Students will engage on a practical basis with research design, methods for data collection and analysis, and reporting research.The course ends with a presentation of the thesis proposal and the field research report.
Teaching support:
Presentations and workshops, practical exercises and other information will be made available in Canvas. During the course students will share and present their work in groups and in plenum and get peer- and teacher feedback.

Lynn P. Nygaard. 2017. Writing Your Master's Thesis. SAGE Publications

Choose between the following methods books:

Bernard, H. Russell. 2017. Research Methods in Anthropology. Sixth Edition. AltaMira Press


Bryman, Alan. 2016. Social Research Methods. Fifth Edition. Oxford University Press

Additional course readings will be made available in class.

Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:

Participation in class (80 % required) and compulsory activities (group work, assignments, peer feedback, submission of a master thesis proposal and a field research report and a final presentation of these documents). 

Physical attendance is expected.

Participation in class and group work 30%, assignments 30%, presentation and submission of a master thesis proposal and a field research report 40%. The thesis proposal and the field research report must be approved before a passing grade is given.
Nominal workload:
250 hours
Entrance requirements:
Minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway
Reduction of credits:

5 credits reduction with PAE304.

5 credits reduction with PAE305.

Type of course:
Lectures/workshops: 56 hours / 4 hours per week.Practical exercises: 54-64 hours, individually or in groups with other students.Work with master thesis proposal, field report, presentations and self-study: 110-130 hours
An external evaluator will contribute to the appraisal of the master thesis proposal and the field research report.
Examination details: Portfolio: Letter grades