SDMM15004U Core Course 4: Research Methodology and Ethics

Volume 2024/2025

Master of Disaster Management - compulsory

This course is offered to MDMa full programme students only. 


See homepage for  MDMa course dates


The course introduces the principal study designs, methodological approaches and ethical considerations in disaster research; with a focus on research development.

Specifically, the course covers:

  • Critical literature review for identification of relevant knowledge gaps, research problems and questions.
  • Quantitative methods for primary and secondary data collection - including definition of outcomes and variables; target population; sampling; and questionnaire design. Central issues on data management, validation, and analyses using statistical software (e.g. SPSS) are also covered.
  • Qualitative methods for primary data collection including focus group discussions; key informant interviews; and participant observation. Data management validation and analyses including field note analyses are also covered.
  • Mixed methods approaches in terms of the rationale for use, common procedures, and limitations.
  • Basic principles and statutes on research ethics focusing on the specific challenges within disaster research.
Learning Outcome

On completion of the course, students should be able to:


  • Critically appraise relevant scientific research methodologies and their application in disaster management.



  • Retrieve and critically review scientific literature and information from peer-reviewed and grey literature sources.
  • Identify research problems and formulate relevant research questions within the field of disaster management and define and delimit study objectives.
  • Choose study designs and identify appropriate methods for data collection and analysis.
  • Discuss possible ethical considerations and limitations.
  • Critically interpret and discuss research findings in relation to existing evidence within the field.



  • Formulate a consistent and clear synopsis in preparation for a small-scale research project.
  • Communicate research findings according to the IMRAD structure for scientific literature.


Literature list is available in Absalon.

See admission/course registration requirements at​admission-and-application/​
This course consists of a variety of teaching/learning methods (blended learning) ranging from class-based lectures, journal clubs, group work and student led presentations as well as individual preparation and study time. All in-class sessions are moderated by faculty staff members. Students are expected to contribute actively through oral and written presentations as well as constructive feedback to colleagues during sessions.

The teaching/learning methods could be listed as follows:
• Lectures - Imparting knowledge, concepts, theories and models
• Journal clubs – discussion of relevant papers with emphasis on analytical skills and knowledge gain
• Group work – guided with a set of questions or an (software) exercise based on specific case
• Presentations – of group or individual student assignments
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Class Instruction
  • 16
  • Preparation
  • 103
  • Exercises
  • 31
  • Exam
  • 16
  • Total
  • 208
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Written exam feedback is given in the case of the grade, FAIL.

7.5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
Course Assignment (5 page Synopsis)
A synopsis is a brief outline of the student's proposed thesis.
The required length of the synopsis is 5 pages, excluding the cover page and reference list (1 page = approximately 2,400 keystrokes, font size 12 pt. line space 1.5).
All aids allowed

The use chatbots and/or  similar tools is not allowed in and for exams.

Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner
Exam period

See the MDMa Exam Schedule


The exam form for the reexam is the same as the ordinary exam. See dates in the  MDMa Exam Schedule

Criteria for exam assesment

To achieve the grade, PASSED, the student must be able to:


  • Identify and critically evaluate the relevance and validity of scientific literature and data within the field of disaster management.



  • Describe relevant research problems and formulate specific research questions and objectives to be addressed within the framework of a master thesis research project.
  • Determine appropriate study designs and critically discuss relevant quantitative and/or qualitative data collection and analysis methods that align with these designs.



  • Apply knowledge of general concepts for ensuring good academic and research practice including the key concept in research ethics.
  • Synthesise all of the above into a consistent synopsis adhering to the conventional structures for scientific literature.