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Qualitative Research Methods




Admissions requirements

Statistics and a succesfully completed 100-level course from the HD Major.


This course introduces students to the features of qualitative research methods prevalent in social sciences such as anthropology and sociology. Qualitative methods may encompass participant-observation in a specific community or organization, life-history narratives over a long period with informants, and the convening of a focus group of individuals with shared social markers. Qualitative methods enable researchers to use a structured research process. This encompasses different aspects of research design, from formulating a focused question to post-fieldwork data analysis. Mastering this process enables a comprehensive and empirically-grounded understanding of the social world.

Students in this course will learn to design and carry out basic qualitative research projects, to reflect on appropriate empirical and ethical choices, and to understand how this process conditions data analysis. Various methods will be discussed, including interviewing, mapping, participant observation, and narrative analysis. This course will thus cover the theoretical and epistemological aspects of methods, as well as the ethical and practical dimensions of research design and implementation.

Course objectives

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

  • Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative methods

  • Describe the ethical and epistemological dimensions of interpretive social science

  • Explain and assess various qualitative research methods

  • Operationalize research questions and determine if a qualitative approach is suitable for addressing particular topics

  • Reflect on the design and execution of a self-guided social science project.

Students will become acquainted with different methods of data collection, processing, and analysis within the interpretive social sciences. They will be able to make judgments regarding the reliability and pitfalls of various investigative approaches, and to assess the ethical and epistemological aspects of carrying out their own project.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

This course will consist of two-hour interactive seminars, and draw on both lectures and practical exercises. Guided by the instructor, interactive, hands-on, and reflective activities will be implemented to highlight the course material. The seminars will help students to recognize and apply qualitative research methods.

Students will, in the spirit of a practical methods course, individually engage in a modest fieldwork project in The Hague that will be analysed for their final assignment. This will involve using diverse qualitative methods that will enable students to think as researchers.

Aside from understanding the conceptual aspects of qualitative research within limited time frames, there will be practical exercises that touch on participant observation, interviewing, and mapping material culture. We will also touch on the use of literature reviews, reflections from the field, and incorporating audio and video materials into qualitative fieldwork. The assignments are introduced during the seminars and will offer the students the opportunity to apply their newly gained knowledge and academic skills.


  • In- class participation (on-going from week 1 to 7): 15%

  • Five assignments: a) brainstorming exercise; b) ethnographic reflection; c) mapping reflection; d) observation exercise; e) interview coding (from week 2 to week 7) 5 × 10% = 50%

  • Final essay on individual qualitative research projects (in week 8): 35 %


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

The Blackboard site of the course will give course readings, updates, guidelines, and enable the submission of student assignments.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Ajay Gandhi