PECOS4021 – Research Methods

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course presents and discusses a set of methodological issues and techniques that are essential to empirical research in the social sciences in general, and the study of peace and conflict more in particular. The course covers, firstly, basic concepts and debates in epistemology. Secondly, general principles of research methodology are accounted for, alongside issues relating to research questions and choice and structuring of research design. Finally, different types of data collection and different techniques for analyzing data are presented and discussed.

A central aim of the course is to provide students with the tools to critically evaluate empirical research and carefully construct their own research designs.

Learning outcome


Students will

  • be well acquainted with some of the most important threats to descriptive and causal inferences, and with strategies for mitigating such threats;
  • know the most important types of research design, and understand their relative strengths and weaknesses in different contexts;
  • know how different types of interviews are conducted, and understand their strengths and weaknesses;
  • understand how to properly use textual data in research, and know how to make use of archive material;
  • be acquainted with essential features of archival research and their role in tracing and accounting for historical events and processes.


Students will

  • be able to trace and critically read historical sources of various types and apply this knowledge to their own work;
  • be able to critically read and evaluate studies on peace and conflict topics;
  • be able to approach and construct designs for answering research questions on peace and conflict topics;
  • be able to apply various techniques for analyzing different types of data, and learn how to properly test hypotheses, interpret results, and draw careful conclusions.


Students will

  • enhance their capabilities in carrying out thorough, independent and critical analysis of complex questions;
  • enhance their capabilities in critically evaluating empirical research;
  • enhance their understanding of various elements of the scientific process, including aspects of the relation between theory and empirical evidence and between concepts and measures.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

For incoming students

All Master's courses in Political Science must be registered manually by the Department, they will not appear in Studentweb. Contact your international coordinator at UiO.


Recommended previous knowledge

Knowledge of research methods.


Lectures and seminars. 

The seminars are not compulsory, but we recommend that you follow them. They have two primary purposes. Firstly, they assist the development of students’ term papers through presentation and discussion of sketches. Secondly, they enable preparations for the school exam on the basis of previous exam questions.


3 hour school exam and term paper.

The term paper must:

The school exam counts more than the term paper. You receive one overall grade. You must pass the term paper and your written examination in the same semester.

Previous exams and guidelines

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.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

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

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

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.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2021

This course is discontinued


Last exam is autumn 2022.

Teaching language