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Qualitative Research Methods


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


This course is designed to teach students the essentials of qualitative research methods. It enables them to set up and complete a research thesis using qualitative methods. Each session builds on the one preceding it and topics covered include: Causal inference from comparative case studies and process tracing, data collection by means of ethnography, interviewing, observations, archival and document research and interpretative phenomenological analysis. In addition, the issues of validity, generalizability, historiography and reliability are addressed.

Course objectives

  • Be able to set-up and follow through a qualitative research design using appropriate techniques;

  • Understand the inherent benefits of qualitative research and what type of questions it can answer;

  • Understand and acknowledge the limits of qualitative designs;

  • Understand what interpretative approaches are, and how and when to use them;

  • How to collate and interpret qualitative data.


November 1st to Dec 20th, every Thursday 9 to 11; 13 to 15.

Mode of instruction

The seminars for this course consist of two-hour sessions which include discussions of the readings in the form of lecture and group activities. Students are expected to have completed the set readings prior to the seminar and to have participated in the online quizzes in advance of the sessions. Students are responsible for locating the assigned journal articles in the library catalogue.

Course Load

5 EC

Assessment method

  • Participation in Seminars (12.5%)

  • Online Quizzes (12.5%)

  • Written Assignment 1 (25%): Research proposal

  • Written Assignment 2 (25%): Designing a questionnaire

  • Written Assignment 3 (25%): Wrapping up

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.
Students may only resit the failed written assignments. Assignment requirements will remain the same. The failed assignment must be on a new topic. Due to their nature, small online quizzes and participation cannot be retaken. The resits are scheduled in the first week of June 2019.


On Blackboard course site, students will find all relevant information for this course and reading materials not available via Leiden University’s electronic library holdings (such as academic manuscripts and research papers).

Reading list

Journal articles, manuscripts and academic research papers.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Dr. H. van Meegdenburg Dr. V.F. Newby Dr. M. Bobic