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Thematic Seminar: Research Methods: A Matter of Context: Including Environmental Issues in Research - 1


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 25.
Some topics may have more than one group to choose from.


This seminar aims to incorporate environmental issues into socio-economic and political research by exploring political ecology's methodologies and research paradigms. This provides a more holistic understanding of the relational aspects of social problematic. Political Ecology is a multidisciplinary field of study which incorporates research methods from sciences, humanities and social sciences. Methodologies and methods to be discussed include ethnography, critical discourse analysis, intersectionality, reflexivity and positionality. Students do not need prior experience in the fields discussed or their methodologies but an interest in interdisciplinary research methods is desired.

Why do we conduct research and what are the possibilities and limitations of research in international studies? What does a good research question look like and how can I make sure I am designing and conducting a research project properly? These are common questions that students have and this course is designed with these questions in mind.

Understanding and conducting research are key components of the BA International Studies programme and this course introduces students to qualitative, quantitative, and mixed approaches and methods of research. The aim of the course is threefold: to provide an understanding of the philosophical assumptions behind doing academic research; to equip students with key practical strategies and techniques for different types and processes of data collection, analysis, and interpretation; and to merge theory and practice by having students design, conduct, and write-up a small research project.

The course utilizes a combination of general lectures and thematic seminar meetings. The general lectures are attended by all students and are meant to provide an overview of academic research, the logic and limitations of qualitative and quantitative methods, and the basics of research design. The thematic seminar groups provide a thematic focus based upon the research expertise of the seminar leader. These groups are meant to introduce students to mixed methods research, operationalizing research questions, issues of verification and reliability, different types of data collection and data analysis, and how to structure and write a research report.

Course objectives

The purpose of this course is to prepare students to understand, design, and conduct academic research. After successfully completing the course students will:

  • Understand the importance of academic research in acquiring knowledge and how this relates to philosophical issues of ontology, epistemology, and the position of the researcher.

  • Be able to explain the logic and limitations of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research.

  • Possess the practical skills necessary for designing research, conducting research, and writing up a research report.

  • Understand how to formulate and operationalize research questions, collect different types of data, identify and address issues of verification and reliability, and learn how to analyze and interpret collected data.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


The three lectures will take place during weeks 37, 39, and 40.


There are six seminar sessions in this course (weeks 38, 41, 42, 45, 46, and 47). Attending all seminar sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance. Being absent at more than two of the seminar sessions will result in a lowering of your Final Research Report grade (75% of the end grade) with 0,5 point for each session missed after the first two sessions.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), which equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 3 lectures x 2 hours = 6 hours

  • Attending seminars: 6 seminars x 2 hours = 12 hours

  • Reading assigned texts: c. 350 pages at 7 pages/hour = 50 hours

  • Research Proposal: 12 hours

  • Final Research Report (including designing, conducting, and writing-up): 60 hours

Assessment method

Assessment & Weighing

Partial Grade Weighing
Research Proposal 25%
Final Research Report 75%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of the Research Proposal and Final Research Report.

  • Please note that if the Final Research Report is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the Research Proposal grade.


If the End Grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the Final Research Report is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the 75% of the Final Research Report. No resit for the Research Proposal is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Report grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the Research Proposal grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2018 – 2019.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for seminar groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

  • W. Lawrence Neuman, Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (7th Edition). ISBN: 9781292020235

  • Any additional literature will be announced on Blackboard before the start of the course.


  • Enrolment through uSis for Lectures and Seminars is mandatory.

  • Please note that enrolment for the seminar and the lectures is done with different uSis codes. Both codes are displayed at the top of this page.

  • The Research Seminars make use of a waiting list for the enrolment in uSis. If you are on the waiting list for a Research Seminar, this does not guarantee you a spot in this Seminar.

  • Enrolment in only one Seminar is allowed. Students are more than welcome to remain on one or more waiting lists, as well as an actual enrolment.

  • If a Research Seminar and its corresponding waiting list is no longer available for enrolment in uSis, this means it is full. Do not try to obtain a spot through other means.

  • General information about uSis is available here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


For lectures:

Dr. C.L. Williams

For the seminar:

Dr. E.E. Burgos Martinez

When contacting the lecturer, please include your full name, student number, as well as which seminar group you are in.


The deadline for submission of the Final Research Report is Friday 14 December 2018.