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Designing research for science and society



In this course the student gains insight in the creative process of setting up and designing real world research in all its facets. The course will include topics such as writing research questions, matching design to question and exploring research methods. Particular attention will be given to applied research in real world settings. The course goes further than research methodology and also includes for example embedding in existing lines of research, networking, financial and management planning, and ethical review. During the course the student will work on a grant proposal for a substantial piece of research on a topic of the student’s own choosing. It is not required to actually submit the proposal, but it is expected that the proposal matches that standard. Several masterclasses will be organized around the course’ themes. Students will give several short updates / presentations of their progress. The course will be concluded by an individual presentation and interview about the developed grant proposal by a mock grant panel.

Course Objectives

After successfully completing the course, the course the student should be able to:

  • Formulate their own research questions

  • Describe the relevance of the research to the practice of Education and Child studies; that is, argue its impact on science and society

  • Choose, describe and defend in public research methods appropriate to the research question

  • Navigate between and appreciate the different approaches in different academic disciplines

  • Make ethical considerations about the research methods, and implement these considerations into the design

  • Draw up a budget, management plan including valorization plans

  • Defend the research design in public.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

Seven 2-hour interactive master classes and a mock-panel session (2-4 hours). During the interactive master classes, a number of topics in designing research pertaining to the course objectives is discussed. Some additional instruction may also be given in video presentations on Brightspace in preparation for the master classes.

Parallel to the master classes, students work on an individual research design in the format of a grant proposal. Students will provide each other with formative feedback on their proposals based on a set of pre-determined assessment criteria and will give several short updates / presentations of their progress.

The course will end in a final meeting (4 hours), where students will present their proposals before a mock review committee.

Assessment method

Students will receive a final grade based on their research proposal (75%) and a presentation/interview (25%). Both grade components should be a pass grade (5.5 or larger).

Both proposal and presentation/interview can only be retaken in case they are below the pass grade. In the case the proposal and/or presentation/interview is deemed insufficient, the student will be given one opportunity to fulfill the requirements to a satisfactory level within a time frame set by the instructors. Participation in the course meeting is mandatory and failure to participate may lead to additional assignments set by the instructors.


During this course Brightspace is used.

Reading List

  • Robson, C & McCartan, K. (2015). Real world research. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd

  • Additional materials provided on Brightspace.


It is mandatory to register for each course via uSis. This applies to both the lectures and the working groups, even if they take place online. Without a valid registration in uSis you will not be able to participate in the course and you will not have access to the Brightspace module of the course.

In addition, it is also mandatory to register separately in uSis for each exam (i.e. both the first exam opportunity and, if necessary, the resit) in uSis. This also applies to partial examinations in a course. This is possible up to 10 calendar days prior to the exam. You cannot take the exam without a valid registration in uSis.

NB If the exam concerns a paper or a practical assignment, you do not need to register in uSis.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

NB After you have registered in uSis, check whether your registration for lectures, working groups and the exam are registered there. This prevents disappointment.

Contact information

The course manager of this course is dr. Harold Nefs