NIFK19002U Qualitative Methods
MSc Programme in Environment and Development
This course provides you with general skills in qualitative methods and thereby puts you in a good position for getting the full benefit of thematic courses, report writing, thesis work, and a post-graduate career. It is a good choice if you are interested in methodology, if you are interested in collecting your own data, and/or if you are just interested in working with people, projects, and environment/development.
In the course, we will, first, discuss what "knowledge" is, what "data" is, and what qualitative versus quantitative and mixed methods are. Hopefully, you will become convinced that 1) qualitative and quantitative methods are not necessarily opposites, 2) that the choice of method should depend on the type of knowledge you want to pursue given available resources and context, and that 3) qualitative methods are indispensable if you want to understand anything about people-nature relationships.
Second, and this is the main part of the course, we will look into theoretical and practical aspects of different specific methods and research designs. This includes when and how to apply the different methods, the pros and cons of each method and of combining them, and how to ensure the quality of data. We will look at how to construct and carry out a questionnaire survey, how to carry out semi structured interviews, focus group interviews, participatory rural appraisal, participatory observation, and case study designs. Finally, the course will provide you with some knowledge about and tools for analysing qualitative data and data resulting from small scale questionnaire surveys.
There will be plenty of exercises during classes. The lectures and exercises draw mainly, but not only, on examples from natural resource management in tropical countries.
More or less in parallel to the classes, you will work with other students on a group project. This includes practical data collection in the neigbourhood, and reporting on process and results. Critical reflections on your own choice of methods, and implications to the quality of your data form part of the report. The topic for data collection and reports will be relevant in a Danish context, and varies from year to year.
The main aim of the course is to obtain essential skills in
relation to conducting qualitative research, including in tropical
countries. The students will demonstrate that they have
obtained these skills through their contributions to group project
reports and through oral exams.
The objective is that, at the end of the course, the students can demonstrate that they have
1.Can describe the research methods, theoretical aspects of these methods, and other aspects of data collection, which have been introduced during the course, readings, and classes
2. Can formulate a research question and/or a research problem, and can define and make the key concepts operational for an empirical enquiry in the field.
3. Can identify and choose research methods suitable for answering a particular research question/problem given a particular empirical context
4. Can argue convincingly for their choice of methods referring to theory as well as to the given empirical context.
5. Can apply the research methods and concepts introduced in the course
6. Can analyse data and draw conclusions in relation to a given research question/problem and reflect critically on own choice of methods and quality of data.
7. Through the project work, the students will demonstrate that they can work in a team under time pressure
See Absalon for a list of course literature.
Useful as introduction: Mikkelsen,B. 2005. Methods for Development Work and Research. A New Guide for Practitioners, SAGE
Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
- Theory exercises
- Project work
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Oral examination, 20 minutesThe exam will include a discussion of the project report (exam registration requirements) and questions that relate to the rest of the curriculum. No time for preparation.
The 20 minutes of examination include assessment.
Weight: Oral exam counts for 100% of final mark.
- Exam registration requirements
Project report passed
- Only certain aids allowed
The student can bring the approved project report and max one A4 page of loosely written notes prepared at home.
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
The same as the ordinary exam
If the student has not handed in the project report, then it must be handed in three weeks prior to the re-exam. It must be approved before the exam.
Criteria for exam assesment
To obtain the grade 12 the student must fullfil the Learning outcome