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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, 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:

    • Experiments
    • Survey
    • Field research
    • 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 business 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.


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Lecture, student discussion

Assessment method

  • Assignment 1: Research question and hypotheses (10%)

  • Assignment 2: Nonspuriousness and measurement (10%)

  • Assignment 3: List of publications (10%)

  • Assignment 4: Research proposal (60%)

  • Pop quiz (10%)

Grading policy:

  • Assignment 1-3 are intermediate steps for Assignment 4. Assignment 1-3 and pop quizzes are counted only if their grades are higher than the grade of Assignment 4. If lower, then its weight is assigned to Assignment 4.

  • In order to pass the course, students must have a final grade of at least 5.5 and assignment 4 grade of at least 5. The final grade is rounded off to the nearest half or integer.

  • Students who fail Assignment 4 can re-do the assignment within a specified time frame. The second attempt will be graded using the same criteria as the initial attempt but with a 1-point grade penalty. Students who fail the second attempt will not have a third chance for re-take. No re-takes are offered for Assignment 1-3 or quizzes.

  • The deadline for each assignment is binding; missing the deadline will automatically lead to a grade of 0.

  • Under special personal circumstances, e.g., sickness, family issues, deadline extension can be granted. Please direct such requests to the Study Adviser ( The study advisor is the one to make an assessment of a student’s confidential, personal information, not the teacher.

  • Students who are entitled to more exam/retake time must report to 10 days before the exam/retake takes place.

  • For students who failed in previous terms and take the course again, grades for previous assignments or quizzes will NOT be acknowledged. To gain points for each assignment, students must re-do it. For Assignment 1-3, only submissions that are substantially different from the previous attempt will be accepted, for example, the research question and hypotheses should be different for Assignment 1, the hypothesis should be different for Assignment 2, and the listed publications should be different for Assignment 3. For Assignment 4, it is acceptable to keep the same topic.

Reading list

Earl Babbie, (2020). The practice of social research (15e). Cengage Learning. ISBN-10: 0-357-36076-1, ISBN-13: 978-0-357-36076-7.
Any edition is fine. Chapter numbers in this syllabus are based on Babbie (15e).
Additional readings are listed in the table of class schedule.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


For any questions contact the Business Studies coordinator

Note: If you are an ICTiBPS student, you can contact the programme coordinator of ICTiBPS for any questions about your program.


  • There is only limited capacity for external students. Please contact the programme coordinator

  • Students are responsible for enrolling/unenrolling themselves for (partial) exams/retakes.

  • Students who do not enroll themselves for an exam/retake by the deadline are not allowed to take the exam/retake.

  • Students fail the course if any of the partial components (except the exam) that make up the final mark of the course is assessed below 4.0.

  • Students fail the course if the grade for the (final) exam is assessed below 5.0.

  • The final grade is expressed as a whole or half number between 1.0 and 10.0, including both limits. The result is not to be expressed as a number between 5.0 and 6.0.

  • If one of the components of the final mark constitutes a component that assesses attendance or class participation, students cannot take a retake for this component. Therefore, students fail the course if their mark for this component is less than 4.0.

  • Partial grades, inclusive the exam grade will not be rounded. If partial grades will be communicated, it is possible partial grades are rounded, but unrounded partial grades will be used in the calculation of the final grade. The final grade will be rounded at 0.5 (5.49 will rounded down to a 5 and a 5.5 will be rounded up to a 6.0).

  • Students pass the course if the final grade is 6.0 or higher (5.49 will rounded down to a 5 and a 5.5 will be rounded up to a 6.0).

  • It is not possible to do retakes for group assignments. Therefore, if students fail the group assignment component, they fail the course.

  • For courses, for which class participation is an assessment component, students may not be penalised for an absence if the student has a legitimate justification for this absence. The student must notify the program coordinator via email ( of such an absence BEFORE the lecture, describing the reason for missing the lecture. If the student does not notify the program coordinator before the lecture, the student will be penalised. Students may be required to provide further documentation to substantiate their case, and class attendance requirements are only waived under exceptional circumstances such as illness.

  • Students who are entitled to more exam/retake time must report to 10 days before the exam/retake takes place.