NIFK18001U Planning Interdisciplinary Research

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Environment and Development
MSc Programme in Forest and Nature Management
MSc Programme in Sustainable Forest and Nature Management (SUFONAMA)
MSc Programme in Global Forestry 


Are you developing a project proposal, planning a thesis in development research or just tired of your MSc level grant applications not being funded?

Planning Interdisciplinary Research, addresses the challenges of preparing for fieldwork and collection of empirical material with an emphasis on what can broadly be termed 'development research'. The course requires students to compose a proposal for a research study,  preferably focusing on natural resource management and governance, and in preparation for their MSc thesis.

The course is tailored to second year MSc students. During the course, it is an advantage with support from a disciplinary supervisor (e.g. the MSc thesis supervisor), as is prior identification of a topic area. We will consider traditional disciplinary projects as well as explore the possible synergies and pitfalls of planning and conducting interdisciplinary research. Teaching activities will guide students to critically access their own projects through careful attention to philosophy of science and disciplinary scientific practices. The course is therefore particularly relevant for students who seek to develop research projects that use insights and data collection methods from different disciplines within the social and natural sciences. 

Students’ research proposals must incorporate a literature review, a clear statement of research questions and hypothesis to be tested (as appropriate), an outline of proposed methods including analytical approach (i.e. identification strategy – as appropriate) and an assessment of the risks and ethical issues involved. The literature review is expected to contain a critical appraisal of the assembled material and must be produced to journal standard. Methods must consider research design, sampling strategy, identification strategy (as appropriate) and considerations about benefits and disadvantages of different methods/models. Identification and assessment of risks and ethical issues are essential to ensure that projects are carried out safely and with due regard to other people and the environment. The values of scholarship are addressed through evaluation of published scientific literature and student peer reviews of proposals produced during the course.

Learning Outcome

The aim of the course is to provide tools for, and experience with, systematic design of research projects. Presentations from teachers mainly use examples from research within natural and social science aspects of natural resources management and governance, but the principles apply generally. An additional important aim is inculcation of the values of scholarship: inquiry, reflection, integrity, open mindedness, evidence-based thinking, and collegiality.


After completing the course the students should be able to:



Reflect on the quality of research designs.

Argue cogently and think critically within the parameters of a particular academic discipline.




Identify and apply the core elements of a research proposal, including critical discussion of literature and problem identification, development of research questions and hypothesis (as appropriate), determine data requirements, and select appropriate methods for data collection and analyses.

Situate own research in the context of relevant empirical and theoretical literatures.

Reflect on risks and ethical issues in relation to project implementation.



Write a well structured research proposal

Demonstrate independent learning skills

Identify and situate knowledge gaps in the relevant literature and design projects to address these gaps by collecting, analysing and evaluating appropriate qualitative and quantitative information creatively.

General texts are included in the online course compendium. Each student will develop his/her own course literature list according to the subject chosen for investigation.


Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Blended learning combining e-learning and class-room activities. E-learning is centeredcentred around internet-based teaching modules and online exercises. Class-room sessions will be used to: discuss the reading material, provide a thorough understanding of concepts through theoretical exercises and provide space for critical peer discussion of student work and development of constructive comments.

Specific activities include: introduction to course; formulation of individual research problems; presentation of research design principles; online exercises; formation of thematic groups; student peer review; reflection on learning.
Topics addressed include: the problem statement, philosophy of science, interdiciplinariety, hypothesis, conceptual framework, and ethics and practicalities. Guest lectures will present on individual topics.
The course is identical to the discontinued course LFKK10270U Research Planning. Therefore you cannot register for NIFK18001U - Planning Interdisciplinary Research, if you have already passed LFKK10270U Research Planning.

If you are registered with examination attempts in LFKK10270U Research Planning without having passed the course, you have to use your last examination attempts to pass the exam in NIFK18001U - Planning Interdisciplinary Research. You have a total of three examination attempts.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 10
  • Class Instruction
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 65
  • Theory exercises
  • 10
  • E-Learning
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 74
  • Guidance
  • 2
  • Exam
  • 5
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

During the course, students will develop their research plan. A central learning activity is the formative feedback provided by teachers and students.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
The written assignment consists of a research proposal. Students will work iteratively on the proposal during the course, and they hand in the final proposal in week 8 of the course. The research proposal counts 100 % of the grade.
Exam registration requirements

In order to qualify for the final examination, students must hand in three peer review reports.

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

The re-examination is an oral exam and lasts 25-30 minutes. The re-examination will be an oral defence of the student's research proposal. The research proposal could be the same as the one from the ordinary exam, or the student can submit a new research proposal. It should be sent to the teachers three weeks prior to the re-exam.


The exam registration requirements must be fulfilled three weeks prior to the re-exam.


The oral examination counts 100%


Criteria for exam assesment

To obtain the mark pass the student must demonstrate to have obtained sufficient skills, knowledge and competencies described in the Learning Outcome