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PhD-course in Research Design

This is the study programme for 2020/2021.

Learning outcome

The student will gain knowledge of:
  • What a research design is
  • Different types of qualitative and quantitative designs, and mixed methods designs
  • The foundations and the appropriateness of different design in the social sciences and the humanities.

By the end of the course, the student will be able to:
  • Critically analyse the inherent logic of a research design
  • Discuss and evaluate appropriate research design
  • Reflect on and if necessary revise the design of a research project
  • Develop an appropriate research design

General competence
By the end of the course, the student will be able to:
  • Understand similarities and differences between types of research design
  • Identify and reflect on different challenges related to the development of an appropriate research design

Apply skills and knowledge on research design to develop and refine a research proposal


The course offers an introduction to research design particularly related to quantitative and qualitative approaches and mixed-methods. Lectures will present an overview of different types of design within the three main types, with examples from ongoing or recent research projects. In seminars students will take active part in critical and constructive discussions of the designs of fellow students, discussions of examples of research designs as well as creative design processes. The seminars will be the starting point for the work with the course assignment.

Required prerequisite knowledge



Weight Duration Marks Aid
Portfolio consisting of two papers 1/1 Pass - Fail
Evaluation will be based on a portfolio consisting of two papers (total of 4000 words +/- 10 %), allowing the students to apply their skills and knowledge on research design 1) to refine or reflect on their own PhD projects, and 2) to write a short proposal for a potential project.
The paper may be written in English or in a Scandinavian language. The paper is evaluated pass/fail.

Coursework requirements

Active participation in lectures and seminars, at least 80%.

Course teacher(s)

Course teacher
Kjersti Balle Tharaldsen , Per Henning Uppstad , Lars Edvin Bru , Arne Olav Nygard
Course coordinator
Atle Skaftun

Method of work

The course will be held as lectures and seminars with discussions and student activity.
A detailed timetable will be available to the course participants at the beginning of the semester.

Open to

The course is compulsory for PhD-candidates at the Faculty of Arts and Education and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stavanger. PhD-candidates at PhD-programs at other research institutions may also participate in the course.

The course is taught in Norwegian unless some of the participants do not understand a Scandinavian language. In this case, English will be the teaching language.

Course assessment

The course participants are encouraged to contribute to the course evaluation. An evaluation form will be made available for the candidates after the papers are handed in.


About 500 pages. A compendium will be available at the beginning of the semester.
Creswell, J.W. (2014). Research Design. Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. London: Sage. (240 s.)
Creswell, J.W. (2007). Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design. Choosing Among Five Approaches. London: Sage. (Extracts)
Shadish, R., Cook D. & Campbell D. (2001) Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference. London: Wadsworth Publishing. (extracts)
Maxwell, J. A. (2009). Designing a Qualitative Study. In L. Bickman & D. J. Rog (ed.). The SAGE Handbook of Applied Social Research Methods, Second Edition. London: Sage. [214-250]
Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research. Qualitative Inquiry, 12(2), 219-245.
Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of mixed methods research: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social and behavioral sciences. Sage. Chapter 2.

This is the study programme for 2020/2021.

Sist oppdatert: 06.07.2020