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Methods: Qualitative Data Collection and Analysis


Admission requirements

Students of the Research Master in Political Science and Public Administration can take this course.


The goal of this course is to help students develop their research skills in qualitative methods, as well as the ability to critique and evaluate academic works employing such methods. The course covers three broad topics. First, we will briefly review the history of the political science and public administration disciplines and consider how the debate between quantitative and qualitative methods has evolved in the post-war period. Second, we will evaluate various strategies for the design of qualitative studies, including concept formation and case selection. Both methods for comparative analysis and within-case analysis will be discussed. Finally, we will interrogate the practicalities of doing qualitative research in light of various research techniques, such as in-depth interviewing, archival research and participant observation. The required readings of the course consist of peer-reviewed journal articles and selected chapters from the textbook. We will read both theoretical articles on qualitative methodology and empirical articles in which such methods are employed.

Course objectives

By taking this course, students will be able to:

  • Show proficiency in critically reading, analyzing, evaluating and discussing scholarly contributions to qualitative political science and public administration;

  • Position scholarly work within the methodological debates regarding quantitative and qualitative social science research;

  • Produce a critical analysis that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of a qualitative methodological approach;

  • Engage in classroom discussion in a thoughtful and respectful manner, both as a participant and as a discussion leader;

  • Identify the appropriate research technique to investigate social science research questions;

  • Create a sophisticated research design for case study research.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total study load is 140 hours, of which 16 contact hours and 124 self-study hours.

Assessment method

Assessment for this course consists of two written assignments (30% and 50% respectively) and class participation (20%). Class participation consists of an introduction to the course readings and participation in class discussions.


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

Reading list

Course readings will be announced in the syllabus. Readings for the first week of the course will be announced on Blackboard no later than one week prior to the start of the course.


See Preliminary Info

See Registration for exams




Dr. Natascha van der Zwan,