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Comprehensive Introduction to Research Methodology and Design

This programme provides students with a deep-dive into qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, as well as the basics of (mixed-method) research design. This programme is designed primarily for students who are entering UvA master's programmes (internal candidates) and also accepts applications from external candidates interested in honing their research methodology skills.

  • Programme at a glance
    Mode of instruction: On-site (3 weeks) 
    Academic dates: Sunday 18 July - Wednesday 11 August 2021*
    Housing dates: Saturday 17 July - Wednesday 11 August 2021*
    Academic fees external: €1650* read more about what is included.
    Academic fees internal:  €875* read more about what is included.
    Housing fees: €650* and a €75 refundable deposit. For more information, see Housing and practical matters.
    Credits: 6 European Credits. Read more about credits and credit transfer.  
    Early admission deadline: 1 February 2021
    Regular admission deadline: 1 April 2021
    Who is this programme for? Incoming UvA Masters students in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences have priority, however each year we accept 4-5 external (non-UvA) candidates. All students must have a Bachelor's degree (minimum). For external candidates, preference is given to current Master and PhD students.

    *Dates and prices are tentative and subject to change, and will be finalised by 1 December 2020. 

  • Programme description

    This course aims to lay a solid, diverse and integrated foundation of knowledge and skills for conducting first-rate qualitative and quantitative research, and for embedding it in effective and feasible mixed-method research designs. At the end of this intensive course, students should have acquired a good understanding of the most important principles and practices of social science research. They should also be able to improve their knowledge and skills independently after the course, and thus pursue their substantive research interests without methodological hindrance.

    The course starts with the presentation and discussion of the most important qualitative methods (participant observation as a key element of ethnographic research, the interview, and the focus group discussion), paying attention to their epistemological foundations and to their practical application in different disciplines such as anthropology, sociology or political science. In these sessions, issues related to the collection, analysis and presentation of qualitative data will be discussed, with a special emphasis on the semi-structured interview and on every step of qualitative text analysis. The course then focuses on the inferential possibilities and limitations of various case selection strategies, which will introduce students not only to a crucial issue of research design, but also to an essential topic in the vast domain of (comparative) case study research.

    The quantitative component of the course introduces students to the statistical analysis of social science data. Topics include quantitative research design, descriptive statistics, and inferential statistics. In this part of the course, each session is paired, on the same day, with a lab session where students will become acquainted with the statistical software SPSS, while working with real-life survey data.

    Finally, the course delves into the thorny issue of bridging the qualitative-quantitative divide, with a session on mixed-method research designs. Each of these three components of the course (qualitative, quantitative, research design) ends with its own practical assignment.

    Programme goals

    At the end of this course, students should be able to:

    • understand the key notions and principles behind qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection and analysis;independently conduct qualitative research on a given topic using primarily self-generated interview data;
    • independently conduct a short quantitative analysis on a given topic, using the SPSS software and real-life survey data;
    • independently develop a short but sound mixed-method research design on a given topic, combining different case selection strategies in a meaningful and effective manner;
    • critically assess the value and validity of published research that uses a qualitative, quantitative or mixed-method design.

    Assessment

    The assessment will be based on three short assignments, dealing with: (1) qualitative methods; (2) quantitative methods; and (3) research design. Each of the three assignments needs to be judged as (at least) satisfactory in order for the student to pass the course (i.e. each of them is a necessary condition for passing the course). All assignments will be evaluated and returned to the students with written feedback. A detailed overview of the requirements for each of the assignments will be provided at the beginning of the course.

    Study load

    This is an intensive course, covering in just four weeks material that is usually taught in 2-3 months in a university setting. Participants should therefore expect to need a few hours of work every day; depending on the day, this may mean reading, watching knowledge clips, participating in online live sessions, working on homework, conducting research for the final assignments, etc. However, the programme – now in its 12th edition with the same academic director – is carefully designed to allow for sufficient flexibility in how students organize their work within the various deadlines. Due to a high number of participants, students will be broken down into sub-groups. The daily/weekly schedule will be made available to all participants in the weeks leading up to the programme.

    Credits

    Students applying for this programme as part of the admissions requirements for their UvA Master's degree are not able to gain credits. External candidates opting to take the programme who are not coming for a UvA Master's degree are able to obtain 6 European Credits if they complete all academic components of the programme. 

  • Academic director

    Alex Voicu is a lecturer in the Political Science Department (Afdeling Politicologie) of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG), and is Academic Director of the Comprehensive Introduction to Research Methodology and Design. He has designed and taught courses on party politics, international relations, and social science methodology. His courses, workshops and guest lectures have had audiences from a variety of disciplines (political science, international relations, anthropology, sociology, human geography, development studies, medicine) and academic levels (BA, MA, Research Master, PhD).  Alex received an honorable mention in the UvA Lecturer of the Year (Docent van Het Jaar) 2014 competition, recognizing his place among the top 5 lecturers in the faculty that year. His own research deals with political elite recruitment and its implications for democratic representation in Romania, Hungary and the UK.

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Comprehensive Introduction to Research Methodology and Design
Mode Short-term
Credits 0 ECTS, 4 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in July