Social science research methods in sustainable development
Syllabus and other information
HU0007 Social science research methods in sustainable development, 15.0 CreditsSamhällsvetenskapliga metoder för hållbar utveckling
Education cycleBachelor’s level
Advanced study in the main fieldFirst cycle, has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
Bachelor’s level (G2F)
The grade requirements within the course grading system are set out in specific criteria. These criteria must be available by the course start at the latest.
Prior knowledgeKnowledge equivalent to 60 credits in sustainable development, of which 10 credits in social science theory.
The course aims to develop the students' ability to collect, organize and analyze empirical material in preparation for the independent degree project that concludes the program. The students discuss strengths and weaknesses of different methodological choices, including ethical aspects. During the course the students will learn about methods like interviews, focus groups, participant observation, surveys and discourse analysis. Both quantitative and qualitative ways of analyzing the empirical material are included and contextualised in current sustainable development research. The course develops general competences via practice in academic writing.
After completing the course, the student should be able to:
- discuss methodological and analytical choices in scientific work within sustainable development and relate these to different scientific philosophical perspectives
- reason about the strengths and weaknesses of different methods
- carry out independent collection and analysis of empirical material with an emphasis on qualitative methods
- identify and discuss ethical concerns that arise when using a specific method and throughout the rest of the research process
- perform basic qualitative and quantitative analysis of collected empirical material
- create a basic plan for a scientific work
- follow basic rules regarding academic writing.
The main emphasis of the course is for the students to learn to use common social science methods as well as organize and analyze collected empirical material in preparation for the independent degree project. The students' own ideas about the independent degree project and questions about methods and analysis will largely shape the teaching.
Part 1: The research process and research methodology
This part of the course discusses the different ways researchers approach a particular research question and why they do so. What are the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, including the use of different methods and ways of analyzing empirical evidence? What ethical aspects arise in the research process and what can a researcher/student do to minimize ethical risks?
Part 2: Research methods with a focus on qualitative research
In this part, a number of common methods such as interviews, focus groups and observations are covered. The methods are concretized partly through examples from ongoing research and partly through seminars that give the students more tangible experiences and the opportunity to discuss and experiment.
Part 3: Methods and analysis in sustainable development
In this part, different, common ways of doing research in sustainable development are discussed. Common methods of collecting data are discussed (in addition to those already discussed in Part 2 above) and supplemented with different ways of analyzing empirical material. Quantitative data collection using surveys is addressed. A simpler quantitative analysis is also included in this part.
Part 4: Plan for scientific work and scientific writing
In the last part of the course, the students get to practice combining methods and analysis together with relevant theory in a simple plan for a scientific work. The developed plan aims to get the students to start actively thinking about their own intended degree project and to practice scientific writing.
The course uses different teaching methods to promote the students' learning and discussions through a combination of introductory lectures and workshop-type exercises, which are presented and discussed during seminars. The course prepares the students to write their independent degree project by opening up to reflections on the intended topic and active experimentation with different methods and ways of analyzing the empirical material for later use in the independent degree project. The course's learning about methods and analysis is concretized in a basic plan that aims to form a starting point for the degree project.
The literature is covered partly in lectures and partly in seminars and is expected to be used actively in the discussion of the case studies.
The course focuses on the following general competencies: academic writing; scientific methods; critical thinking; written communication.
The course includes mandatory attendance at seminars.
Grading formThe grade requirements within the course grading system are set out in specific criteria. These criteria must be available by the course start at the latest.
Formats and requirements for examination
Approved written assignments, approved participation in mandatory seminars.
If a student has failed an examination, the examiner has the right to issue supplementary assignments. This applies if it is possible and there are grounds to do so.
The examiner can provide an adapted assessment to students entitled to study support for students with disabilities following a decision by the university. Examiners may also issue an adapted examination or provide an alternative way for the students to take the exam.
If this syllabus is withdrawn, SLU may introduce transitional provisions for examining students admitted based on this syllabus and who have not yet passed the course.
For the assessment of an independent project (degree project), the examiner may also allow a student to add supplemental information after the deadline for submission. Read more in the Education Planning and Administration Handbook.
The right to participate in teaching and/or supervision only applies for the course instance the student was admitted to and registered on.
If there are special reasons, students are entitled to participate in components with compulsory attendance when the course is given again. Read more in the Education Planning and Administration Handbook.
Department of Urban and Rural Development