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Research Design in Earth, Energy & Sustainability


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Academic Writing, and completion of Quantitative Research Methods is strongly recommended (though not required).


How do you identify gaps in the current literature? And how do you translate this into a good research question? What methods should you use to answer that research question? And what is the difference between a modelling study, quantitative and qualitative research, and (maybe more importantly) what do they have in common? How do you conduct a systematic literature review?

These are some of the topics which will be discussed in this course, and which will provide you a foundation for your capstone. The first two weeks are focused on the concept of knowledge, and how to scope the literature and identify research gaps. Next, we will explore the various research methods used in the EES major, ranging from quantitative to qualitative methods, as well as modelling and systematic reviews.

The assignments are skills focused, and will train you in writing an outline and turning the outline into a capstone proposal, as well as on how to conduct a systematic review.

Course Objectives

After completion of this course students are able to:

  • Scope and identify gaps in the literature, and use this to develop an outline for a research proposal;

  • Explain the concepts of validity and reliability in the context of research design;

  • Setup a systematic literature review, and know how to apply the PRISMA approach


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This is a methods course, which means there is less room for discussion than in other courses. The main mode of instruction will centre around lectures and excersises on research design. In addition, students are required to complete individual and group assignments. To facilitate completion of these assignments, there will be some time set aside during lectures to discuss and work on assignments (the remainder of the work is conducted outside class hours). Attendance is compulsory for students.

Assessment Method

  • Individual assignment - Research outline and annotated bibliography: 30%

  • Individual assignment - Research proposal: 30%

  • Group assignment - Systematic literature review: 30%

  • Participation: 10%

Reading list

Will be made available prior to the start of the class.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Thijs Bosker,