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Qualitative Research Methods




Admissions requirements

Successful completion of GC Diversity and at least one 100 level course in the major.


This course introduces students to the features of qualitative research methods prevalent in social sciences such as anthropology and sociology. 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 the comprehensive and empirical understanding of the social world of the people we study. Qualitative methods may encompass participant-observation in a specific community or organization, life-history narratives over a long period with informants, and the gathering of a focus group of individuals with shared social markers.

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. These topics will be contextualized in terms of the distinction between quantitative and qualitative research methods. 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

The objectives of this course are to acquaint students with different methods of data collection, processing, and analysis, and to be able to make judgments regarding the reliability and pitfalls of various methodological approaches.

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

  • Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative methods

  • Describe the philosophical and epistemological features of qualitative research

  • Explain and assess the most important qualitative research methods

  • Operationalize research questions and determine if a qualitative approach is suitable for answering specific research questions

  • Reflect on choices made in designing and executing a qualitative research project


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

This course will mainly consist of two-hour interactive seminars, and draw on both lectures and practical tutorials. 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, 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 pragmatic exercises that touch on participant observation, interviewing, drawing maps of material culture, and shadowing. We will also focus on
understanding the use of literature reviews, reflections from the field, and incorporating audio and video materials into qualitative fieldwork.

Students will be expected to come to class prepared and to participate actively in discussions. They will be required to join in activities both in class and during field exercises. The assignments are introduced during the seminars and will offer the students the opportunity to apply their newly gained knowledge and academic skills. Attendance of class meetings is compulsory.


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

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

  • Final assignment based on original research conducted by student (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 Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Ajay Gandhi (