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Research Methods


Admission requirements

Not applicable


Sound research design skills are critical for business students’ long term success, either for designing and executing their own research to solve various business problems or for engaging with academics and consultants to gain insights for business development. The goal of this course is to provide students with an overview of research design, for business research in particular and social research in general. The course covers the logic of scientific research and research design across a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, in order to develop a general understanding of the problems of research design and the specifics of implementing various research methods.
The course consists of lectures, student presentations, discussions, and assignments. Students are expected to come to class having completed the readings. Class lecture and discussion aim at gaining a deeper understanding of the arguments and problems that each week’s readings are addressing.

Topics covered

  • Logic of science

  • Principles of research design

  • Theory and hypothesis

  • Measurement

  • Sampling

  • Different modes of observations:
    o Experiments
    o Survey
    o Field research
    o Unobtrusive research

Course objectives

This course provides students with skills and knowledge which are necessary in the research process and the application of qualitative and quantitative research methods in order to solve the business problems. At the end of this course students will be able to

  • Raise interesting and relevant research questions;

  • Develop good hypotheses;

  • Conduct an in-depth literature review;

  • Think critically about prior studies, in particular various threats to validity;

  • Understand principles of research design;

  • Understand basic components of various research methods, as well as their strengths and weaknesses;

  • Design a rigorous research project, covering the complete process from conceptualization to operationalization;

  • Draft an academic research/project proposal with scientific rigor.


The schedule can be found on the Leiden University student website

Detailed table of contents can be found in blackboard.

Mode of instruction

Lecture, student discussion and presentation

Course Load

10 3 hour lectures
Preparation and assignments

Assessment method

Individual assignments (all assignments should be submitted on Blackboard)

  • HW1: Research question and hypotheses (10%)

  • HW2: Research proposal (60%)

Group assignment

  • Presentation (20%)

Class participation

  • Pop quiz (10%)


  • In order to pass the course, students must (a) have a total grade of at least 5.5 and (b) each grading component (i.e., individual and group assignments, class participation) at least 5. The final grade is rounded off to the nearest half or integer.


  • Students who get a grade below 5 for class participation will automatically fail the course, and there will be no re-take opportunities.

  • Students who fail individual or group assignment can re-take the assignment within a specified time frame, which will be graded using the same criteria as the initial attempt but with a 2-point grade penalty. Students who fail the second attempt will not have a third chance for re-take.

Individual assignment deadline

  • Extension of deadline can be granted under special circumstances. The criteria are: unanticipated + uncontrollable + major impact. Examples of legitimate reasons: sudden death of close family members, major accidents and sickness. Example of insufficient reasons: busy schedule, occupied with other courses and projects, holiday travel.

  • Deadline extension should be requested before the assignment deadline, not after.



Reading list

Earl Babbie, (2016). The practice of social research (14e). Cengage Learning. ISBN-10: 1-305-10494-3, ISBN-13: 978-1-305-10494-5. [Any edition is fine. Chapter numbers in this syllabus are based on Babbie (2016, 14e).]
Additional readings are listed in the table of class schedule.


You have to sign up for classes and examinations (including resits) in uSis. Check this link for more information and activity codes.

There is only limited capacity for external students. Please contact the programme Co-ordinator


Programme Co-ordinator: ms. Esme Caubo


Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.