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Research in Public Administration


Admission requirements

Students who are admitted to the minor programme.


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. We will discuss the role of theory, ideas about causality, and issues of measurement. We will also discuss a range 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.

Course objectives

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

  • Identify the basic principles of academic research;

  • identify different types of theory development and how they relate to specific methodologies;

  • situate a research project within quantitative and qualitative traditions of social research;

  • explain the advantages and disadvantages of various research techniques;

  • critically assess the methodological underpinnings of a social scientific research project; and

  • prospectively apply basis research methodologies.


On the right side of programme front page of the Prospectus you will find links to the website, timetables and uSis.

Mode of instruction

The course is structured as a Small Private Online Course (SPOC). It consists of a series of online learning modules covering different aspects of social research (research questions and theory, research design, quantitative data collection, quantitative data analysis, qualitative data collection, qualitative data analysis) combined with three in-person seminars where these topics are discussed. The SPOC allows students to (1) self-assess their (prior) knowledge and progress through multiple choice quizzes, (2) revisit the short video lectures, (3) and learn from each other through peer-reviews of assignments and papers.

140 hours:

Seminars: 6 hours

Miscellaneous: 2 hours

Self-study: 132 hours

Assessment method

Assessment for this course consists of a smaller assignment (30%) and a larger assignment (70% in weight). The total grade is the weighted average of the final grades for the two components. 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.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Brightspace.

Partial grades will not remain valid after the exam and the resit of the course.

Reading list

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


Register yourself via MyStudymap for each course. Registration for this course is possible from Tuesday 11 July, 13.00 h.
Minor students will be enrolled in a workgroup by the programme.

Do so on time, before the start of the course; some courses and workgroups have limited spaces. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in MyStudymap you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.

After registration for an exam you still need to confirm your attendance via MyStudymap. If you do not confirm, you will ultimately be de-registered and you will not be allowed to take the exam.
More information on registration via MyStudymap can be found on this page.

Please note: guest-/contract-/exchange students do not register via MyStudymap but via uSis. Guest-/contract-/exchange students also do not have to confirm their participation for exams via MyStudymap.


Dr. Kohei Suzuki