INF9220 – Qualitative research methods

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Course content

This course teaches basic qualitative research methodologies and methods that are used within Information Systems research. The course will provide an understanding of research issues and teach skills in qualitative research methods that can be used in master and doctoral thesis work and in system development projects.
The course will take you through different philosophical assumptions about research, and you will learn about what characterizes qualitative versus quantitative research.  You will learn about the research methodologies action research, case study, ethnographic research, and grounded theory, and methods for gathering qualitative data. You will gain introductory experience in analysis, interpretation, and writing based on field data, and learn about legal and ethical frameworks for conducting qualitative research. The assignments will give you practical experience in qualitative research methods in use by carrying out interviews and observations in projects relevant to domains of students' interests. The final assignment is to write a research proposal based on experiences in the earlier assignments. 

Learning outcome

After you have completed this course, you:
•    know about different qualitative methodologies and methods that are used within the Information Systems field when generating empirical material
•    know the differences between these methodologies and can argue for your methodological choices
•    have practical experiences with interviews and observations
•    have an understanding about the relationship between research questions, methodologies and paradigms
•    can present and relate research literature to your own work
•    have learned what a research design proposal should contain and have practical experience with formulating one
•    know about the legal and ethical framework for the conduct of research in Norway


PhD candidates from the University of Oslo should apply for classes and register for examinations through Studentweb.

If a course has limited intake capacity, priority will be given to PhD candidates who follow an individual education plan where this particular course is included. Some national researchers’ schools may have specific rules for ranking applicants for courses with limited intake capacity.

PhD candidates who have been admitted to another higher education institution must apply for a position as a visiting student within a given deadline.


Recommended previous knowledge

Bachelor degree in computer science, information systems or similar. No other prerequisites.

Overlapping courses


2 hours of lectures per week. Discussion and group work. An oral presentation in class and seven group assignments must be submitted. For Ph.D.- students an additional assignment is required.


Oral Exam (or written if the student number is high). The oral presentation in class and the group assignments must be approved in order to take the exam.

Grading scale

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

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Students who can document a valid reason for absence from the regular examination are offered a postponed examination at the beginning of the next semester.

Re-scheduled examinations are not offered to students who withdraw during, or did not pass the original 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.

It will also be counted as one of your three attempts to sit the exam for this course, if you sit the exam for one of the following courses: INF5220.

Facts about this course






Every spring

This course will be replaced by IN9000 from 2018.



Every spring

Teaching language