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Methods in Global Public Health Research




Admissions requirements

Students are recommended to take Medical Anthropology before starting this course. If you did not take Medical Anthropology please contact the instructor prior to the course.


In this course students are given an introduction into research methods used in Global Public Health with a focus on qualitative methods. We will focus on what binds different disciplines that make up Global Public Health. Social sciences and Anthropology in particular are framed as disciplines that through their methods provide the information needed to ask the right questions in survey research.

The sessions include case-studies where methodological designs in epidemiology and social sciences are analyzed. Differences between epidemiology and social sciences are elucidated by reflecting on the ways in which ideas about measurement and what counts as evidence is defined and studied in these two disciplines. Students are presented with a number of social science and epidemiological studies dealing with diverse human health problems, including cardio-vascular disease, depression and HIV/AIDS. The main goals of the course are to teach students how to 1) use qualitative research methods and conduct data-analysis, 2) to critically comment on the validity of scientific arguments in epidemiological and social science articles by analysis of the methodology used. Students will also learn the basics of conducting a systematic literature review and employ these skills in their final assignment. Three teaching methods will be applied: Conducting a mini-research, where students will learn how to use qualitative data-collection techniques, analysis of articles through weekly presentations and writing a research proposal consisting of a) a systematic literature review and b) a qualitative research design

Week 1: Research Methods in Global Public Health
1.1 Studying Health and Disease
1.2 Conducting a systematic literature review

Week 2: Research tools in Qualitative Research
2.1 Observations
2.2 In-Depth Interviews

Week 3: Research tools in Qualitative Research II
3.1: Other tools: Documentary analysis, Visual anthropology & the Internet
3.2 Qualitative Data-Analysis software

Week 4: Data-analysis in Qualitative Research/ Case-studies I
4.1 Qualitative Data-analysis practical
4.2 In-Class Practical, Students work on systematic literature review/research file

Week 5: Anthropology and Epidemiology
5.1 Oral Presentations on Risk
5.2 Oral Presentations on Hypertension and stress

Week 6: Difficult Diagnosis and the problems of measurement
6.1 Oral Presentations on Asthma and Diabetes
6.2 Oral Presentations on HIV/AIDS

Week 7: Presentations
7.1 Presentation of Mini-research
7.2 Presentation of Mini-research

Week 8: No Class
Deadline Research File and Research proposal based on Systematic Review

Course objectives

By the end of the course students will:

  • have learned how to conduct a systematic literature review in global public health using different qualitative research methods.

  • Compare and contrast different methods in global public health

  • Be able to compare methods sections and the presentation of evidence in scientific articles.

  • have acquired the necessary research skills to conduct a small-scale qualitative study, using observation, interviewing and focus-group discussions and to analyze these data.

  • are able to write a research proposal, selecting the appropriate research methods for the selected research question.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The two-hour twice weekly session will be run as a seminar, consisting of introductory lectures, literature presentations and practical guidance on assignments. You are expected to attend every class session, to carefully read the articles, and to hand in your assignments on the specified deadlines.


Assessment 1: In-class participation
Weight: 10%, deadline: weeks 1-7

Learning aim: Interactive engagement with course material, measured through attendance, and being able to apply the readings in assignments

Assessment 2: Individual Presentation of Scientific Articles and 750 word methodological commentary
Weight: 15%, deadline: weeks 5,6

Learning aim: Students can describe the main thesis statement of an article, and critically reflect on the methodology used and the evidence this methodology produced in relation to the thesis statement. They can contrast public health methodologies and anthropological methodologies and describe the value of a particular methodological approach for a particular research question

Assessment 3: Mini-research
Consisting of two parts:

  • Group presentation of mini-research. This presentation will be individually graded and will provide a proof of the ability of students to conduct qualitative data-analysis.
    Weight: 15 %, deadline, week 7, session 1 & 2

  • Research files, including reflection, transcribed interviews/observations, methodological guides and summary of analysis
    Weight 25%, Deadline, week 8, end of session 1

Learning aim: Students can work in teams to complete a mini-research project in which they individually acquire skills in three qualitative research methods: observation, interviews and a facultative method (FGD, Life-History, Visual, Source-analysis). Students also acquire basic qualitative data-analysis skills.

Assessment 4: Final Research Design Paper
Consisting of two parts:

  • Systematic Literature review leading to problem statement (conducted in groups of 3 a 4 students). Students each write a separate part of the literature review, and will be individually graded for their section.
    Weight: 20%, deadline: week 4, session 2

  • Appropriate research design based on problem statement
    Weight: 15 %, deadline: week 8, session 2

Learning aim: Students are able to individually conduct part of a systematic literature review and write a coherent section which clearly outlines a gap in knowledge. Students are then able to design an appropriate research design to answer this particular question.


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



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


Dr. Josien de Klerk,


The focus of this course is on qualitative research methods. Workload outside of class is extensive, due to the home-assignments that are part of the mini-research. Students are expected to have this time available. Reading time for this course is limited however.