PECOS4021 – Research Methods

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

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.

The course will start with an overview of historiographical approaches and methods relevant for the study of peace and conflict, including the application of international, global and transnational perspectives. It will further provide an introduction in the critical reading of various types of historical primary sources, as well as in the use of archives and digital resources.

In its second, political science part, the course will focus on challenges posed to the drawing of valid inferences on the basis of theory and empirical data. The course accounts for case study and small-n comparative designs, and how case studies may be used in mixed designs in conjunction with statistical analysis. Regarding strategies for data collection, the course presents and discusses among others in-depth interviews, field work and the use of textual sources in empirical research.

Learning outcome


Students will

  • be familiar with the major historical approaches relevant for the study of peace and conflict;

  • know the most important types of research design, and understand their relative strengths and weaknesses in different contexts;

  • be well acquainted with some of the most important threats to descriptive and causal inferences, and with strategies for mitigating such threats;

  • 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.


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 methodically 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.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

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

 Apply for guest student status if you are admitted to another Master's programme.

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.




4-hour written examination. Two term papers.

Term paper 1 draws on topics addressed in lectures 1-4. Term paper 2 draws on topics from lectures 5-10.

The term paper must:

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

Previous exams

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

It is recommended to request an explanation of your grade before you decide to appeal.



The deadline to request an explanation is one week after the grade is published. For oral and practical examinations, the deadline is immediately after you have received your grade.

The explanation should normally be given within two weeks after you have asked for it. The examiner decides whether the explanation is to be given in writing or verbally.

Ask for an explanation

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






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language