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Methods and Techniques 2: Qualitative Research


Admission requirements

This course is only open to students of the BA Religiewetenschappen.

Students Religiewetenschappen can enroll for this course only after successful completion of the course 'Methoden en Technieken 1: bronnenonderzoek, objecten en teksten'.


Beyond historical and linguistic studies, the academic study of religion is largely an empirical social science consisting of both quantitative and qualitative approaches. This course will introduce students to the latter, with a special focus on anthropological methods and techniques. In an effort to merge theory with practice, students will be required to design, conduct, and present a simple ethnographic fieldwork project. Each project will include ethnographic description, participant observation, artifact collection, qualitative interviews, and a research report that both analyzes the collected data and reflects on the logic and limitations of qualitative research.

Course objectives

Each student who completes the course will:

  • Develop a broad competence and understanding of qualitative methods and techniques, particularly as these relate to the anthropological study of religion.

  • Be able to explain the logic and limitations of qualitative research.

  • Be able to explain how a qualitative approach can be used in conjunction with other approaches (e.g. quantitative approach).

  • Develop an understanding of research ethics as this relates to issues of field access and field relations.

Transferable Skills

  • Gain firsthand experience designing, conducting, presenting, and writing-up a research report.

  • Gain critical thinking skills, fieldwork skills, oral and written communication skills, and knowledge of diverse cultures.

  • Develop the following practical skills for fieldwork: designing a research project, ‘gaining access’ to communities, conducting qualitative interviews, writing ‘thick descriptions’, taking fieldnotes, and working with qualitative data analysis methods.

  • Identify how the skills gained in the course are transferable outside of academia into fields as diverse as journalism, public policy, business administration, human resources, etc.



Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total Course Load: 10EC’s x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending class sessions: 13 sessions x 2 hours = 26 hours

  • Fieldwork exercises: 24 hours

  • Reading assigned texts: c. 300 pages at 7 pages/hour = 43 hours

  • Writing reading reports: 13 hours

  • Preparing oral presentation: 20 hours

  • Designing and conducting fieldwork project: 84 hours

  • Writing Research Report: 70 hours

Assessment method

The final mark will be determined as a weighted average of three marks:

  1. Fieldwork exercises: 20%
  2. Reading reports: 20%
  3. Research report: 60%

NOTE: students will also be required to make an oral presentation of their research project. While this a practical exercise that is graded as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory and is not included in the final mark, only those students who make a satisfactory presentation can pass the course.

NOTE: to pass the course, students must score at least a 4 on each assignment, with a minimum weighted average of 5.5 for the final grade.


students who have participated in all elements of the course, but scored an overall insufficient mark are entitled to a resit. For the research report, students will be given a chance to hand in a new version. For fieldwork exercises and reading reports, students will be given an alternate assignment.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.



The course makes use of Blackboard in the following ways: (1) all communication will take place via Blackboard; (2) additional information about the course will be available via Blackboard; and (3) assignments must be submitted via Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Stephen E. Gregg and Lynne Scholefield, Engaging with Living Religion: A Guide to Fieldwork in the Study of Religion (London and New York: Routledge, 2015).

  • Engaging with Living Religion will be the primary textbook used for the course and is available as an e-book via the university library catalogue. Additional readings will be made available via Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch


Dr. C.L. Williams