EDS312 Research Methods

Credits (ECTS):15

Course responsible:Elisabeth Molteberg

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Limits of class size:90

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:375 hours

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in Autumn parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Autumn parallel, Spring parallel.

About this course

EDS312 is a broad introductory course in research methods at master’s level. The course allows students 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. The course covers a range of tools and skills to prepare and carry out the students' own master's thesis research, and considers how design and execution of research affects what knowledge claims one can make and defend, as well as of ethical implications involved. To this end, the course discusses research ethics, epistemological premises and assumptions shaping research, and issues of interdisciplinary and combining quantitative and qualitative strategies.

The course covers the following research methods and design features:

- Quantitative module (autumn parallel): quantitative research design, sampling, data collection, and statistical analysis

- Qualitative /methodology module (spring parallel): 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:

  • 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
  • potentials and limitations of qualitative and quantitative methods of sampling, data collection, and analysis
  • 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 working across disciplines, strategies, and epistemic communities
  • 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 choose to apply in course assignments. Having taken advantage of the opportunity given in the course to experiment with and reflect on use of design and methods tools, 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.

  • The course is oriented towards practice and has a blended learning format: contents are conveyed through readings, pre-recorded and in-class lectures, discussion and practical exercises, and independent group research project assignments covering all stages of a quantitative and a qualitative research process.
  • Ample time for teacher input and support in project assignment work is set aside during teaching hours. 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.
  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent
  • Portfolio assessment, letter grades A-F. The course grade is based on the following assignments:

    • Individual written assignment on quantitative research methods, counting 35% towards course grade
    • Individual written assignment on qualitative research methods consisting of two installments, these are given one overall grade which counts 65% towards course grade

    Passing the course requires a passing grade on all graded assignments. All assignments are given and submitted IN ENGLISH ONLY. Students who fail to pass the graded assignment(s) for a module can apply to the course responsible to complete any remaining assignment(s) the following semester, or re-register for the course and complete remaining assignments the following year. This is granted ONLY ON AGREEMENT.

    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).

    Continuous exam Grading: Letter grades Permitted aids: A1 No calculator, no other aids Portfolio Grading: Letter grades
  • External examiner is involved in formulation of graded assignments and in evaluation of a selection of submissions.
  • Several group assignments related to the two group research projects. Some individual exercise submissions. Attendance is mandatory for first lecture of each course module, and a few 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. All mandatory activities for a course module must be completed and approved during the same course period.

  • 1x2 class hours per week during autumn parallell + 2x2 class hours per week during spring parallell (a total of around 80 hours). In addition, students do group and individual independent work.
  • M-GDS, M-IES and M-IR
  • Minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway (generell studiekompetanse)