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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: Qualitative Design: Causal inference, comparative case studies and mixed methods approaches. Data collection by means of interviewing, archival and document research. Methods of analysis: process tracing, discourse analysis and content 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 analyse qualitative data.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-Prospectus you will find a link to the online timetables.

Mode of instruction

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

Course Load

5 EC

Assessment method

  • Participation in Seminars (10%)

  • Written Assignment 1 (30%)

  • Written Assignment 2 (30%)

  • Take home exam (30%)

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.

Transitional arrangement for students enrolled in the course in the academic year 2018-19:
The assessment method of this course has changed. Second year students that have valid partial grades for this course, but have not obtained a passing grade for this course, must complete the course in accordance with last year’s assessment methods.


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 Blackboard to register for every course. The programme will register the students in Usis based on the group division.


Dr. J.B. Schulhofer-Wohl

Dr. V. F. Newby