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Research in Public Administration- in English


Admission requirements

  • Only Premaster students can take this course.

  • Pre-Master students who continue in the master Management van de Publieke Sector take the course Bestuurskundig onderzoek voor schakelstudenten.


What makes research academic? What is the role of theory development in the social sciences? How does one translate abstract concepts into observable indicators? This course offers an introduction to the fundamentals of social science research, with a particular focus on the field of public administration. Using examples from research in public administration, we explore the differences and similarities between qualitative and quantitative approaches to the social sciences. We will discuss the role of theory, ideas about causality, and issues of measurement. We will also discuss a range selection of research techniques employed in the social sciences. Finally, we will consider the importance of research design, including the formulation of a strong research question, the development of a theoretical framework, and the selection of an appropriate methodology to carry out the project. This course will not only help students develop the skills to critically assess the methodological underpinnings of research presented in academic books and articles, but also introduces them to the methodological skills required for their Master’s thesis.

Learning objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the basic principles of academic research;

  • Situate a research project within quantitative and qualitative traditions of social research research;

  • Broadly explain the advantages and disadvantages of various research techniques;

  • Identify different types of theory development and how they relate to specific methodologies;

  • Critically assess the methodological underpinnings of a social scientific research project;

  • Produce a research paper.



Methods of instruction

This course consists of lectures.

Study load

Total study load is 140 hours, of which 12.5 contact hours and 127.5 self-study hours.

Method of assessment

Assessment for this course consists of a final exam (60%), a research paper (40%). Students need to earn a grade of 5,5 or higher for each of the assignments. It is not possible to compensate for partial grades within the course.


Yes, the Blackboard site will become available a week prior to the start of the course.

Other course materials/literature

Students are required to purchase the following book. Other readings will be announced in the syllabus.

  • Alan Bryman 2012, Social research methods, 4th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The readings for the first week of the course will be announced a week in advance on Blackboard.


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.


Dr. Natascha van der Zwan