STV4028 – Process Tracing, Ethnography and Discourse Analysis

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course offers an in-depth presentation of three key methods for empirical research applying qualitative data. It discusses the theoretical foundations that inspire these methods and presents nuts and bolts for how they are carried out. The students are first invited to explore the meta-foundations for qualitative research design, introducing the main epistemologies and the way qualitative methodologies are anchored in those intellectual traditions.

Both rationalist and interpretivist approaches are covered, with emphasis on the common criteria for assessing research and the ways in which they contribute to theoretically vibrant social inquiry.

Three different sets of methods are highlighted

  1. process tracing
  2. political ethnography
  3. discourse analysis

Reading material for each of the three combines original theoretical contributions, textbook chapters and empirical articles. The aim of the course is to provide the students with the skills and resources to produce research that is theoretically grounded, methodologically sophisticated and empirically innovative.

Learning outcome


Students will:

  • obtain in-depth and instrumental knowledge of three essential research methods applying textual, spoken or observational data
  • get first-hand experience with the strengths, weaknesses and challenges associated with qualitative research and data collection
  • develop enhanced awareness of epistemological and theoretical debates underpinning qualitative research


Students will be able to:

  • construct and conduct sophisticated research designs applying qualitative methods.
  • reflect critically on the epistemological foundations of qualitative research within the social sciences.
  • critically assess research by clearly defined criteria such as validity, transparency and replicability


Students will enhance their ability to:

  • create innovate qualitative research designs
  • conduct high-quality qualitative data collection
  • critically engage in scholarly debates on qualitative methodologies


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

The students are strongly recommended to have completed STV4020A – Forskningsmetode og statistikk + one of the 10-credit modules STV4020B-E.



Lectures are held during five weeks, with examination in the sixth week.


Term paper and individual oral presentation.

The term paper must:

  • be between 6000-7000 words.
  • be on a topic related to the curriculum but selected by the student.
  • address and analyze an empirical research question by applying methods discussed in the course literature. It should also include methodological and theoretical reflection on the relationship between theory and method.
  • meet the formal requirements for submission of written assignments

The individual oral presentation consists of:

  • a presentation addressing a topic chosen by the course convenors
  • short examination on the basis of the course syllabus

The oral presentation counts 25% of the final grade. You receive one overall grade. You must pass the term paper and the individual oral presentation in the same semester.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

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

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or 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.


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

Facts about this course






This course is discontinued. Last taught spring 2017.


This course is discontinued. Last taught spring 2017.

Teaching language