Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

PNG0037 Participatory Research Methods, 7.5 credits

Deltagande forskningsmetodik

Syllabus approved: 2011-10-20 

Subject: Rural Development

Marking scale: Pass / Failed
The requirements for attaining different grades are described in the course assessment criteria which are contained in a supplement to the course syllabus. Current information on assessment criteria shall be made available at the start of the course.

To have been accepted as a post graduate student at a university department.

The main objectives of this course are to introduce the learner to the theory and practice of basic field survey research skills. These skills include: qualitative research methodology; Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA), Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Participatory Learning and Action (PLA); and other forms of analysis focusing on qualitative study design, data collection and analysis. The course includes hands on practical exercises and a short field assignment.

After completion of this course the learner should:
- be acquainted with the foundations of natural and social science research principles
- be familiar with the concepts of participatory research methodologies
- have acquired skills in selection and application of participatory methods in the analysis of issues
- be able to participate and contribute in interdisciplinary research teams
- be familiar with analysis, interpretation and communication of participatory research findings

The main thrust of participatory research is skills training in designing, communication and interviewing techniques, and in engaging in interactive learning sessions with stakeholders. The course comprises three modules and more specifically students will in:

Module I. Become acquainted with the foundations of natural and social science research principles; how to identify a research question or questions that can be designed as qualitative study designs requiring participatory research methods. The focus here will be on determining the problem and how to phrase it as a research question, or questions.

Module II. Be familiar with the repertoire of tools essential for designing and conducting participatory research studies using semi-structured interviews, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, participant observation, and developing basic skills in a sample of interactive field survey approaches. Emphasis will be on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Participatory Learning and Action, Rapid Appraisal Procedures (RAP), and qualitative research analysis using SPSS and content theme categorisation.

Module III. The course will include case specific examples from researchers either in the core of their PhD research studies or post-doctoral research that in various ways have employed participatory research tools. Group reflections, analysis and discussions with the researchers will be part of the lecture session’s group work facilitation. A great deal of the work is conducted in small groups and as fieldwork as a means of imparting group dynamic skills.

The participatory research methods course emphasises interactive learning, group dynamics and experiential learning. The learning sessions include discussions, participatory exercises, and videos of participatory research and analysis of PRA exercises in class and in the field. Students will be coached in the importance of rapport building and group dynamics through practicals. The field assignment encompasses tools from the schools of Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). It is the responsibility of each group to plan, execute and analyse the results of fieldwork. Each group will be expected to hand in a written report not exceeding six pages with one and half spacing; 12 points; including references.

An overall theme is identified as the central focus for understanding the use and application of participatory research methods. This acts as a guide for students to undertake their task as a group assignment. Using all the tools and skills gained in the course, participants design an independent study whereby they define their primary and secondary data collection methods; study subjects, method for collecting information from informants, compile and analyse. The whole study is synthesized and submitted as a written report not exceeding eight pages with one and half spacing; 12 points; including references. The report must be submitted two weeks after the scheduled classes in order to pass.


Abbot, J. and I Guijt 1998. Changing views on change: participatory approaches to monitoring the environment. SARL discussion Paper No 2. IIED. London. 96 pages

Ambrose, B. and D. Gibbon. 2001. Diagnostic Workshop Training : understanding and developing logframes. June 2001. Hubli Dharwad Action Planning Project. Bangor Univ. UK.48 pp.

Barrett, C.B., A. Aboud and F. Place 2002. Natural Resources Management in African Agriculture: Understanding and Improving Current Practices -

Bennet, J. 1997. Vision 21 Toolkit. Facilitation, Communication, Awareness, Techniques and Tools and Advanced Tools for involvement . p56. Publ. by Vision 21. 31, St. Georges Place, Cheltenham. GL50 3JZ UK.

BOND, (2003) Logical Framework Analysis Guidance notes No. 4. BOND, Regents Warf, London. 8pp.

Capra, F. (1996) The Web of Life. A new scientific understanding of living systems. Anchor Books. Doubleday. NY.

France, R.L. 2005. Facilitating Watershed Management: Fostering Awareness and Stewardship – pp 400. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Maryland, USA. see:

Gonsalves, J. F.( and many authors) 2005. Participatory research and development for Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management. 3 volumes. IDRC. IDRCISBN 1552501817 See:,M1

Guijt, I. 1998. Participatory Monitoring and Impact Assessment of Sustainable Agriculture Initiatives: An introduction to the key elements. SARL discussion paper No 1. IIED London. 112 pages.

IIED 2003. Learning and Teaching Participation. PLA Notes No. 48. Dec. 2003. IIED London. UK.

IIED 2004. Critical Reflections, future directions PLA Notes No 50. Oct 2004

IIED/CTA 2007. Mapping for Change: Practice, technologies and communication. CD. PLA notes No 54.

IIED 2009. Change at Hand : Web 2.0 for Development. PLA notes No. 59.

Fortman, L (ed.) Participatory Research in Conservation: Doing Science Together. Blackwell-Wiley, 2008.

Jiggins, J and D Gibbon 2000. Guidelines for developing thesis research plans. Notes developed during period 1996-2000 when based at SLU, Uppsala, Sweden

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning: experience as a source of learning and development. New Jersey. Prentice Hall.

Leach. M and R. Mearns 1996. The Lie of the Land. Challenging received wisdom on the African environment. pp 240. IAI , J.Currrey and Heineman

Leeuwis, C and R. Pyburn 2002. Wheelbarrows Full of Frogs: Social Learning in Rural Resource Management : International ... -479 p. Van Gorcum, NL. See:,M1

Mikkelsen B. 1995. Methods for development work and research. A guide for practitioners. Sage publications. India

Mukherjee, N. 2002. Participatory Learning and Action: with 100 field methods. Concept Publishing Company , New Delhi 11059. India. Pp335

Mkumbira J, Chiwona-Karltun L, Lagercrantz U, Mahungu NM, Saka J, Mhone A, Bokanga M, Brimer L, Gullberg U & Rosling H (2003). Classification of cassava into “bitter” and “cool” in Malawi: from farmers’ perception to characterisation by molecular markers. Euphytica 132(1):7-22.

Pimbert, M. 2011. Participatory Research and On-Farm Mangement of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe. IIED, London.

Pretty, J.N., I Guijt, J Thompson, I Scoones. 1995. Participatory Learning and Action: A trainer’s guide. IIED London pp267.

Pretty, J. N. 2005. The Earthscan Reader in Sustainable Agriculture – Earthscan. London.

Röling, N. and A. Wagermakers (Eds.) (1998). Facilitating Sustainable Agriculture. Participatory learning and adaptive management in times of environmental uncertainty. Cambridge. CUP.

Scoones, I. & Thompson, J. (eds.). Beyond farmer first, Rural people’s knowledge, agricultural research and extension practice. with a foreword by Chambers, R. 1994. Intermediate technology publications. London

Tyler, S. 2006. Communities, Livelihoods and natural resources: action research and policy change in Asia. IT Publns and IDRC. See:,M1

Warren, P. 1998. Developing Participatory and Integrated Watershed Management. Community Forestry Case studies No 13. FAO Rome.


- ODI London
- IIED, London
- IDS Sussex
- Livelihoods


1. Agroforestry. Video: Fields of Trees ICRAF. Shifts in institutional thinking over time: from technical fix to community forest resource management
2. PRA Methods. Kenya and Zambia. World vision Australia visit Zambian village for PLA exercise
3. Participatory video as a tool for empowerment. The Deccan Shot
Gender, power and effective communication.
4. Second Nature. Alternative perceptions of resource degradation and management. Interdisciplinary research approaches to the study of forest and savanna. Leach and Mearns.
5. More People, More trees.

The examination will be composed of several parts: A diary with reflections on the topics covered in the lectures and working sessions, an eight page word report (including maps, diagrams and tables) on the group assignment, oral presentations and active participation in the group assignments and activities.

Additional information
Venue: Ultuna Campus, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden 31 October - 18 November 2011.

Course team 2011;
- Linley Chiwona-Karltun, PhD International Health, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
- Professor David Gibbon, PhD Agronomy, Rural Livelihood Systems, United Kingdom
- Alex R. Arévalo Vásquez, MSc. Rural Development and Natural Resource Management, Sweden

The course is given as part of the research school Natural Resource Management and Livelihoods in International Development, NRML.

Responsible department
Department of Urban and Rural Development


SLU, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, has its main locations in Alnarp, Skara, Umeå and Uppsala.
Tel: +46 18-67 10 00 • Fax: +46 18-67 20 00  • VAT nr: SE202100281701 •