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Qualitative Research Methods


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


This course is designed to teach students the essentials of qualitative research methods to prepare them for researching a thesis using qualitative methods. Each session builds on the one preceding it. The main topics covered are:

  • Research Design: qualitative research design, causal inference, and the logic of case selection for single and comparative case studies.

  • Data collection: Interviews and document research.

  • Data analysis: Students will learn the basics about some of the most commonly used methods of analysis: process tracing, discourse analysis, and content analysis.
    In addition, the issues of validity, generalizability and reliability are addressed.

Course objectives

  • Be able to set design qualitative research project using appropriate techniques;

  • Understand the inherent benefits of qualitative research and what type of questions it can answer;

  • Understand and acknowledge the limits of qualitative designs;

  • Understand how to collect and analyse qualitative data;

  • Understand the most commonly used approaches to qualitative research in international relations.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-Prospectus you will find a link to the online timetables.

Mode of instruction

The seminars for this course consist of two-hour sessions which include discussions of the readings in the form of lectures and group activities. Students are expected to have completed the set readings prior to the seminar and are responsible for locating the assigned journal articles in the library catalogue.

Study load : 140 hours

Assessment method

  • Assignment 1: Online test (35%)

  • Assignment 2: Written assignment (35%)

  • Take home assignment (30%)

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.

Partial grades will remain valid for one academic year.

Should a student fail the overall course, s/he can complete the course in the second year of the programme.

Reading list

Books and academic peer-reviewed journal articles.


The programme will register the students in Usis based on the group division. Use Brightspace for course information.


Dr. V. F. Newby

Dr Juan Masullo Jimenez