Due to the Corona virus education methods or examination can deviate. For the latest news please check the course page in Brightspace.


nl en

Thematic Seminar: Research Methods: Post-colonialism and Human Rights


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 23.
Some topics may have more than one group to choose from.


Within this seminar students will be introduced to post-colonial theories like gender and subaltern studies as well as the role of Human Rights - especially children's rights - within the Global South, Africa in particular. The aim is to learn how to approach topics about the Global South from a non-Western perspective and create a fitting research idea or question.

Why do we conduct research and what are the possibilities and limitations of research in international studies? What does a good research question look like and how can I make sure I am designing and conducting a research project properly? These are common questions that students have and this course is designed with these questions in mind.

Understanding and conducting research are key components of the BA International Studies programme and this course introduces students to qualitative, quantitative, and mixed approaches and methods of research. Building on skills gained in courses such as Academic Reading and Writing, the aim of this course is threefold: to provide an understanding of the philosophical assumptions behind doing academic research; to equip students with key practical strategies and techniques for different types and processes of data collection, analysis, and interpretation; and to merge theory and practice by having students design, conduct, and write-up a small research project.

The course utilises a combination of general lectures and thematic seminars. The lectures are attended by all students and are broadly applicable to research in the humanities and social sciences. They are meant to provide an overview of academic research, the logic and limitations of qualitative and quantitative methods, and the basics of research design. The thematic seminars provide a focused engagement based upon the research expertise of the seminar leader. The seminar meetings are meant to assist students in designing a small research project and writing up the tentative results in a research report. While each seminar is unique, all students will be introduced to mixed methods research, field specific research design issues, multiple data collection and analysis methods, research ethics, operationalising research questions, issues of verification and reliability, and how to structure and write a research report.

Course objectives

The purpose of this course is to prepare students to understand, design, and conduct academic research. After successfully completing the course students will:

  • Understand the importance of academic research in acquiring knowledge and how this relates to philosophical issues of ontology, epistemology, and the position of the researcher.

  • Be able to explain the logic and limitations of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research.

  • Possess the practical skills necessary for designing research, conducting research, and writing up a research report.

  • Understand how to formulate and operationalise research questions, address issues in research ethics, collect different types of data, identify and address issues of verification and reliability, and learn how to analyse and interpret collected data.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


The three lectures will take place during weeks 37, 38, and 39.


There are six seminar sessions in this course (weeks 40, 41, 42, 44, 48, and 49). Attending all seminar sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance. Being absent at more than two of the seminar sessions will result in a lowering of your Research Report grade (75% of the end grade) with 0,5 point for each session missed after the first two sessions.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), which equals 140 hours, broken down by:

Component Estimated time
Attending lectures 6 hours
Attending seminars 12 hours
Reading assigned texts 57 hours
Research Design 20 hours
Research Report (including (re)designing, conducting, and writing-up) 45 hours

Assessment method

Assessment & Weighing

Partial Grade Weighing
Research Design 25%
Research Report 75%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of the Research Design and Research Report.

  • Please note that if the Research Report is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the Research Design grade.


If the End Grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the Research Report is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the 75% of the Research Report. No resit for the Research Design is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Report grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the Research Design grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Retaking a passing grade is not possible for this course.
Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2019 – 2020.

Exam review and feedback

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 organised.


Blackboard will be used for seminar groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after you have been enrolled in uSis.

Reading list

  • W. Lawrence Neuman, Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (7th Edition).

    ISBN: 9781292020235

This text will be utilised for the lectures. While some thematic seminars may also use this text, any additional literature will be announced on Blackboard before the start of the course.


Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 15 July 2019:

1) On 15 July 2019 you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
2) Indicate there which are your 5 preferred Research Methods courses, in order of preference.
3) Based on preferences indicated by 29 July the Coordinator will assign you to one specific Research Methods course by 23 August.
4) Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
5) All students are required to enrol for their group in Blackboard to access all course information.

Students cannot register in uSis for the Research Methods courses, or be allowed into a Research Methods course in any other way.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


For lectures:

Dr. C.L. Williams

For this seminar:

[Dr. D.M.S.M. Natermann]

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number, and tutorial group number.
Please use your University email-address (uMail) when communicating with any person or department within Leiden University.

Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies


The deadline for submission of the Research Report is Friday, 10 January 2020.