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Research design CSM

Vak 2014-2015

Admission requirements

Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management can take this course.


The research environment of crisis and security governance is challenging, complex and often political and policy inspired. Analysing and evaluating scientific research findings from academic peer-reviewed Journals is a basis requirement for Master students. In order to critically review scientific empirical research findings, students much gather insight in different research methods used in the crisis and security domain, and be aware of it’s special context. Furthermore, conducting empirical research is a key element of the master thesis.

This course will provide students with an understanding of the basic principles of research design in crisis and security governance. This course develops the different stages in elaborating an interesting and feasible research design, in order to prepare the master thesis. Attention will be paid to the feasibility of research questions, the development of an interesting research question, the setting up of the research design using a precise methodology, with a specific focus on the multiple and single case study design. Qualitative research methods (interviewing, focus groups, desk top research & content analysis) as well as quantitative methods (survey) will be addresses.

Theoretical lectures will be alternated by expert-guest lecturers explaining their research experiences in the field and their view on advantages and disadvantages of specific methods. This is a mandatory course, where an active input (class discussions, practical exercises and presentations) are required. The individual output of each student will be a research proposal that can serve as a basis for the master thesis.

Learning objectives

The learning objectives of the course are:
1. Students will gain theoretical insights in research design and different scientific methods used within the context of crisis and security governance
2. Students will be able to analyze and evaluate empirical research findings
3. Students will develop analytical and critical writing skills by writing a research proposal for the master thesis
4. Students will be able to work in groups and provide a high-level presentation



Methods of instruction

This course consists of lectures, self study and a presentation. This course is compulsory.

Study load

140 hours

Hours required for lectures and quest lecturers: 7 weeks X 3 hours/week = 21
Self-study hours: 119 hours

Method of assessment

The final grade consists of two mandatory assessments:

(1) Port folio consisting of 3 main assignments and some smaller ones that have to be made individually or in group

Each week students will have to work on small assignments. The assignments include answering a question or reflecting on a guest lecturer, and developing step-by-step a research proposal. Only three assignments composing the port folio will be graded. Submitting all assignments on time is a necessary condition for passing the course. Graded assignments in the port folio are:

  • Literature review (analyses and critical assessment) and feasibility study of the research subject (20%)
  • Development of the research question including the most suitable methodology (20%)
  • Analyses and evaluation of empirical research findings using the methodology students proposed (20%)

(2) Final paper: individual research proposal (40%)

The grade for each of the two exam-forms (60/40) has to be at least 5.5. The weighted average of these two assignments must be at least 5.5.

If students complete all assignments but receive a final grade that is not sufficient to pass the course, they will have a chance to retake the final version of the individual research proposal.


Instructors use Blackboard. Blackboard is indispensable for this course. All assignments will be made available and need to be handed in via Blackboard. This page is available approximately 10 days before the course starts.


(1) Punch, K.F. (2006). Developing effective research proposals, London: Sage. 2nd edition.
(2) Swanborn, P.G. (2010). Case study research : what, why and how? Los Angeles: Sage. (ISBN: 9781849206112/ 9781849206129)

and several articles assigned for each session. See Blackboard

Course material is mandatory for the final proposal as far as it is set out in sheets, handouts and other information media.


Registration for every course and exam in USIS is mandatory. For courses, registration is possible from four weeks up to three days before the start of the course.
For exams, registration is possible from four weeks up to ten days before the date of the examination.


E. Devroe (coordinator 75%) (office B207).
Office hours: Monday-Thursday 09-18 h

J. Van Buuren (assistance 25%)