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Methods and Techniques 3: Qualitative Research


Admission requirements

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

This course is also open to students with an academic interest in the subject. In the case of lack of available places, BA Religiewetenschappen students have priority.


Understanding and conducting research are key components of the BA Religiewetenschappen programme. Building on skills already gained in the methods and techniques learning line, this course introduces students to qualitative research. With a special focus on anthropological methods, the course merges theory with practice by equipping students with key practical strategies and techniques for designing, conducting, and presenting their own simple ethnographic fieldwork projects. Each project will include participant observation, qualitative interviews, ethnographic description, artifact collection, and a research report that analyses and interprets the collected data and reflects on the logic and limitations of qualitative research.

Course objectives

Students will:

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

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

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

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

Transferable Skills

  • Gain first-hand 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 a community; conducting qualitative interviews; conducting digital forms of qualitative social research; writing ‘thick description’; 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.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

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

  1. Fieldwork exercises portfolio: 30%;
  2. Research report: 60%;
  3. Oral presentation: 10%.

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 insufficient mark overall are entitled to a resit. For the research report, students will be given a chance to hand in a new version. For fieldwork exercises, students will be given an alternate assignment.

Reading list

The primary textbook for the course is:

  • 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).

Other readings will be made available during the course.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof