SUM4100 – Research Methods and Project Design

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Course content

This course aims to provide students with a thorough understanding of the interdisciplinary research process. The course uses the students’ actual research interests as point of departure for the students to get immersed in developing their own research project. The course examines different research methods and the theoretical assumptions behind each and how they can be employed in practice. We also discuss values, ethics and politics of research. The focus of the course is on each student’s research ideas and project.

The course starts with a reflection and discussion about interdisciplinarity, where students define their research theme. Hence, we recommend students to start thinking about their chosen topic early on. Throughout the course, the students work with developing their research questions and choose the appropriate methodological approach for their research project. The course consists of a combination of lectures, group discussions, labs with practical exercises, assignments, and four extended peer-review workshops. Students are expected to participate actively in all activities of the course. 

Learning outcome

After completing the course, the students will


  • Have acquired insight in different research traditions and epistemologies 

  • Have realized a deeper understanding of how research as a process is conducted 

  • Be able to apply and evaluate methodological concepts and techniques at an advanced level 

  • Be able to identify and discuss the challenges and dilemmas involved in applying methods in concrete, practical contexts 


  • Have command over a broad spectrum of perspectives within different research traditions (quantitative/qualitative/mixed-methods) 

  • Be able to apply a critical perspective regarding how methods are used in research 

  • Be able to summarize, present and independently reflect on methods and research 

  • Be able to collaborate with other students in class 

  • Be able to criticise and comment the work of fellow students in a respectful, reflected and constructive manner.  

General knowledge

  • Have developed a deep understanding and respect for the academic way of thinking
  • Have developed academic curiosity and respect for academic and ethical values


This course is only for students who are enrolled in the Master Programme Development, Environment and Cultural Change (DECC) 

Overlapping courses


An average of three sessions (lectures or seminars) per week. We expect students to attend all sessions. This is how you apply for a valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance:


2020: A portfolio of activities and a 10 pages project description graded pass/fail. 

  • Assignment 1: Research theme and research question (half a page). 
  • Assignment 2: Defining research aims and objectives (half a page). 
  • Assignment 3: Essay tba (1000 words). 
  • Assignment 4: Research proposal. (10 pages) 

All activities are obligatory.  


2019:  A portfolio of activities and a 10 pages project description graded pass/fail. All activities are obligatory.

  • Assignment 1: Research theme and research question (half a page).
  • Assignment 2: Defining research goals and objectives (half a page).
  • Assignment 3: An essay on the issue “interdisciplinary research” (1000 words).
  • Assignment 4: Research proposal (10 pages).

Assesment guide/sensorveiledning

2018 - : A 10 page project description, graded pass/fail. In addition, students must submit obligatory assignments throughout the duration of the course. 

Assesment guide/sensorveiledning 

2017: 4 hour School exam in November (reduced because of transition to digital exam instead of hand written). In addition, students must write a 10 page project description to complete the course. The project description is graded pass/fail. 

2015 - 2016: 5 hour School exam in December and to complete the course, students must in addition write a 10 page project description (students are awarded either a passing or a failing grade on the project description).

2012-2014: The course has a 3 day Home Exam of maximum 10 pages. To complete the course, students must in addition write a 10 page project description (Students are awarded either a passing or a failing grade on the project description).

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Evaluation Autumn 2012

Facts about this course

Every autumn
Every autumn
Teaching language