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Methods: Analysing Social Processes


Admission requirements

This course is part of the MSc Industrial Ecology (joint degree between Leiden University and Delft University of Technology). In order to follow this course, a basic knowledge in Statistics which is provided in the online preparation module for the IE program will be helpful.


This course explains the process of scientific research in the social sciences and introduces the main methods used in the field. It helps students in theorizing and thinking like a
researcher, which are often prerequisites of empirical and modelling research. The course covers the whole process of research from building hypotheses and collecting data, to modelling and simulation. Topics include: case study research, surveys (questionnaires and interviews), mixed-methods, modelling and simulation.

Course objectives

After completing this course, students will

  • have knowledge on different research approaches and methods that can be used to study social phenomena.

  • know the requirements and limitations for different types of research methods.

  • be able to judge which kind of method fits which type of problem.

  • be able to design a research process based on the societal issue and research questions given to them.

  • know how to develop theories and propositions about social phenomena using their research design.


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

The course consists of a series of theoretical lectures and practical sessions where the theories are applied to specific cases.

Assessment method

The assessment includes a written open-book exam and 3 assignments in groups of two students. The students will also have weekly quizzes that have to be completed to pass the course but the quiz grades will not be part of the final course grade. The final grade will be 50% final exam and 50% assignments.

Reading list

The course will be mainly based on the book: Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices. In addition, some research papers and supplementary material will also be provided.


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.


Coordinator(s): Amineh Ghorbani