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Theories and Methods



The goal of this course is to help students develop the skills that are necessary to evaluate existing research and to design and carry out their own empirical research projects, in particular an MA thesis. The course assumes basic familiarity with research methods and statistics. It will help students to develop broad analytical skills and provide them with the tools to test falsifiable hypotheses with empirical evidence.
The course will focus on the following aspects: Identifying research questions that can be answered using standard methods of research; Finding theoretical literature on the topic of research; Establishing the relevance of research questions for theory and society; Thinking in terms of causal relationships between variables; Developing hypotheses concerning the relationship between variables that are based on the theoretical literature; Understanding the principles that relate to the support or rejection of hypotheses and theories; Being able to present hypotheses and findings in a coherent and comprehensible manner; Presenting a written work that satisfies the criteria required in scientific publications, including proper citation and bibliographical forms. Finally, the course will also cover some basic descriptive and inferential statistics.

Students are expected to be prepared to discuss the assigned literature and to actively participate in class discussions.

Methods of Instruction

Lectures and class discussion.

Study material

  • Punch, Keith F. 2005. Introduction to Social Research. Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. 2nd ed. London: Sage.

  • A selection of articles (announced on Blackboard).


Students will be evaluated on the basis of the weekly assignments and/or a research proposal to be handed in at the conclusion of the course.


All meetings are in room 13.43 building Stichthage The Hague (except on 16/11)
Tuesday 2 November from 18.00-19.45
Tuesday 9 November from 18.00-19.45
Tuesday 16 November from 18.00-19.45, room 13.26
Tuesday 23 November from 18.00-19.45
Tuesday 30 November from 18.00-19.45
Tuesday 7 December from 18.00-19.45
Tuesday 14 December from 18.00-19.45
Tuesday 21 December from 18.00-19.45