Qualitative Methods

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The aim of this course is to discuss basic concepts and methodologies, train students in identifying relationships between theory and data, and enable them to develop such relationships on their own. The course will teach students the relevance of positivist, hermeneutic and discursive approaches to the study of organization and politics with a view to developing a research design of their own. Furthermore, the course aims at presenting specific methods to the students in order to assist them to a wide variety of research methods in connection with the Master thesis writing. As a preparation for conducting their own literature reviews the course will train students in understanding and assessing critically different methods used in other research contributions. A recurring topic will be research design. Thereby, the course aims to illustrate how the various parts of the research process are interconnected. Finally, an aim is to illustrate how methodological choices are related to different traditions in the philosophy of sciences.

The course consists of the following components:

  1. Philosophy of Science and Basic Conceptual Analysis
  2. Research Design
  3. Case as Research Strategy
  4. Textual Analysis and Documentary Data
  5. Qualitative Interviews

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student can

  • Discuss basic concepts and methods of the discipline
  • Identify relationships between theory and data
  • Explain the relevance of positivist, hermeneutic and discursive approaches
  • Understand and critically discuss methods in the empirical works of others


The student can

  • Argue for the choice of methods approach on the basis of a research question
  • Apply different methods in empirical analyses
  • Integrate different methods in a research design
  • Construct well grounded research designs
  • Integrate the different parts of a research design

General competence

The student can

  • Apply different perspectives from the philosophy of sciences in order to argue for a specific choice of methods
  • Develop one's own research design
  • Support other sudents in developing research designs

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge

AORG101, AORG104, AORG103 /  AORG107 / AORG109, AORG215 


GOV101, GOV104, GOV103 / GOV107 / GOV109, GOV215

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
  • AORG323A (10 ECTS)
  • AORG232B (10 ECTS)
  • AORG318 (10 ECTS)
  • AORG320 (10 ECTS)
  • GOV353 (10 ECTS)
  • Access to the Course

    The course is open for students who have been accepted to Master programmes at the Department of Government.

    Exchange students at master level may be accepted upon application. Applications may be rejected due to capacity.

    Teaching and learning methods
    6-8 lectures and 3-4 seminars.
    Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

    Presentation of an essay (about 2000 words) to be written on the basis of the syllabus. In addition, each student is required to at least one time comment on another students' written/oral presentation.

    The compulsory assignment must be approved in order to take the exam. Approved compulsory assignments are valid in the current and following two semesters.

    Forms of Assessment

    Written essay, approximately 5000 words (+/- 10%, excluding the title page, table of contents, references, tables, and all attachments).

    The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.
    The exam answer can be submitted in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish. It is also possible to submit in English.

    Grading Scale
    Graded A-F
    Assessment Semester

    Assessment in teaching semester.

    A retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5 in the UiB regulations.

    If there is a retake exam, this will be available for students with the follow results/absences:

    • Medical certificate/valid absence
    • Interruption during the exam
    • Fail/failed

    If you have the right to take a retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absences, you can sign up yourself in Studentweb after January 15.

    Reading List
    The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 Decemeber for the spring semester. 
    Course Evaluation
    All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
    Programme Committee
    The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.  
    Course Administrator
    Department of Government at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.