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Research Design


Admission requirements

Only students of the Master’s programme Crisis and Security Management can take this course.


This course will provide students with an understanding of the principles and basic requirements of developing a research design that fits the specific needs of research in the field of crisis and security management. The course is not a research methods course. We assume that students are familiar with research methods from the BA methods courses. This course develops the different stages in elaborating an interesting, relevant and feasible research design. Lectures will be dedicated to the interconnectedness of research question, research design and research methodologies and address topics as the art of drafting a good research question, relationship with the body of knowledge, defining concepts, and the operationalization of concepts, data sources and questions concerning validity. Further, different research designs will be presented and discussed as well as an overview of capstones and research projects students can join in order to write their master thesis. After this course students can train themselves in specific research methodologies relevant for their thesis project in the course Thesis Preparation.

Course objectives

  1. Students are able to construct a significant, meaningful, valid and feasible research design proposal that can be of use for the master thesis;
  2. Students are able to formulate an innovative, interesting and feasible research question and point out the scientific (knowledge gap) and societal relevance of the research domain of their choice;
  3. Students are able to detect and develop the best suitable method to research the RQ of their choice, taken into account relevant literature, methodological issues and practical constraints (feasibility);
  4. Students are able to develop a correct operationalization, link the RQ to topics, detect and develop indicators to be assessed in the empirical setting and make an inventory of suitable sources;
  5. Students are able to analyze and evaluate empirical research findings from other scholars in the broad security field.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of seven lectures (including guest lectures).

Participation in lectures, discussions and exercises is required in order to obtain a grade. One lecture may be missed.

Course Load

Hours required for lectures and quest lecturers: 7 weeks X 3 hours/week = 21 hours
Self-study hours: 119 hours

Assessment method

Students have to hand in two assignments:

(1) Mid-term assignment (25% of total grade) (2) Final paper: outline of a research design (75% of total grade)

Compensation rule: Only assessments with the weight lower than 30% are compensable. This means that one does not have to pass an assessment if it weighs less than 30% in order to pass the course, if the average of all assessments combined is at least a 5.5. In addition, assignments with less than 30% are not re-sitable, meaning that if one failed an assessment of less than 30%, one is not allowed to redo it.

The resit takes the same form.


The corresponding Blackboard course will be made available one week prior to the first lecture.

Reading list

To be announced on Blackboard.


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 there.


All communication should be directed to Dr. W. Broekema: