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Research in Public Administration (English)


Admission requirements

Students need to be admitted to either the PA or the CSM pre-master program. Students in the MPS pre-master need to take Bestuurskundig Onderzoek (Nederlandstalig).


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;

  • 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;

  • Apply basis research methodologies



Methods of instruction

This course consists of lectures and workshop.

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 two written exam (mid-term and final). 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. Students need to earn a grade between 3 and 5,5 for their assignments to qualify for a retake. The mid-term counts 40% and the final exam 60% towards the final grade.

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have taken the first sit and earned a mark between 3 and 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam
Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.


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

Other course materials/literature

The readings will be announced on Blackboard no later than one week prior to the start of the course.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Dhr. Dr. G.E.Breeman