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Research in Public Administration (English)


Admission requirements

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

  • Or, Students who are enrolled in the minor ‘Public Administration: Multilevel Governance’

  • Or, Erasmus exchange students.


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 future research projects.

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


On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables and uSis. .

Methods of instruction

The course is structured as a Small Private Online Course (SPOC). The SPOC allows students to (1) self-assess their (prior) knowledge and progress through multiple choice quizzes, (2) revisit the short video lectures, (3) learn from each other through peer-reviews of assignments and papers, (4) and to have access to additional explanation by the instructors through three live web-conferences.

Study load

140 hours self-study.

Method of assessment

Assessment for this course consists of a smaller assignment (30%) and a larger assignment (70% in weight). 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.

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
More information is posted on (LMS) see below.


No, the course uses an alternative Learning Management System (LMS), that is, NEO LMS.

Reading List

Neuman, W. Lawrence (2014), Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, Seventh Edition, Harlow: Pearson Education.


Students are required to enroll for the course in usis. Upon registration, students will receive an e-mail allowing them participate in the online learning environment on the platform NEO LMS.


Dr. J. v.d. Voet (Joris):

P.E.A. v.d. Bekerom MSc (Petra):