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FE409 Methods course for Renewable Energy

Course description for academic year 2020/2021

Contents and structure

The method course has three parts. The first part concerns themes from scientific theory such as cause-effect, different types of explanation models (causal, functional, intentional) and the relation between reason and observation, induction and deduction in scientific accumulation of evidence. The students will learn about the hypothetico-deductive and the hermeneutical methods in formulation and testing of hypothesis. Formulation of causal diagrams with specified hypothesis about the relationship between different variables will be essential.

The second part deals with qualitative method and case studies. Design and implementation of interviews as well as selection of informants will be essential.

The third part concerns quantitative methods. Essential parts will be design of questionnaires,  sampling techniques, collection of data and statistical analysis for generalization to a larger populations. Students will learn different statistical forms of analysis such as chi-square test, t-test, analysis of variance as well as bivariate and multivariate regression analysis. The concept of statistical control will be considered integral in the presentation of multivariate regression as well as deduction of direct, indirect, spurious as well as interaction effects in a causal diagram.

The method course will also introduce students to simple concepts within energy analysis such as energy source, energy transition, energy carrier as well as efficiency. Students will also learn about energy chains and how energy carriers are transformed to mechanical, chemical or electrical work in chains of input and output. Energy chains are a principal part of LCA analysis.

Additionally, students will acquire basic knowledge about registrations of energy in public accounts and they will learn how to critical assess different international energy accounts.

Learning Outcome

The course provides a basic introduction to use of quantitative and qualitative methods in research projects. Students will acquire knowledge about conditions and limitations by applying different methodological approaches. Students will learn to choose research design for a given research question and evaluate a)  what data must be collected, , b) how these data may be analysed, and c) what conclusions may be inferred based on a chosen design. Further students will acquire knowledge about basic themes in scientific theory such as source of knowledge (reason end empirical observation, induction and deduction) as well as different form of verifying knowledge (hermeneutics and the hypothetico-deductive method).


  • Have knowledge about the relation between reason and observation in scientific accumulation of evidence
  • Have knowledge about designing research projects
  • Have knowledge about basic principles in quantitative and qualitative  research methods
  • Have knowledge about conditions and limitations in applying different methodological approaches
  • Have knowledge about the best method to apply to a given research question
  • Have knowledge about what data best fits a given methodological approach
  • Have knowledge about how data are collected
  • Have knowledge about formulating and testing  hypothesis with a given set of collected data
  • Have knowledge about how to analyze a given set of collected data
  • Have knowledge about basic concepts in energy analysis  (energy source, energy transition, energy carrier, efficiency, energy chains)
  • Have knowledge about energy accounting, how different forms of energy production and consumption are registered in public energy accounts
  • Have knowledge about how energy data are collected and how their quality may be assessed
  • Have knowledge about energy data and energy accounts internationally  and in Norway  


  • How to choose a methodological  approach for a given research question
  • How to collect data for a given research question
  • How to use tools for data treatment and statistical analysis  (Excel)
  • How to use tools for qualitative analysis
  • How to analyse value streams in LCA-analysis.
  • How to collect, compare and critical assess data from different international energy accounts


  • Acquire knowledge about conditions and limitations by applying different methodological approaches
  • Perform a critical assessment of application of scientific methods in scientific publications
  • Identify methodological problems in in formulating research questions, both in own research and in other scientific publications
  • Apply reflection over scientific accumulation of evidence in other studies. To what degree is the researcher part of the scientific object?
  • Acquire basic challenges in LCA-analysis

Entry requirements


Recommended previous knowledge


Teaching methods

Lectures, assignments. Students will acquire basic competence in use of Excel.

Compulsory learning activities

Three approved assignments. One with qualitative method, one with quantitative method and one with collection and analysis of data based on a self-designed model.


Written exam in 4 hours. 

Grading scale: A-E/F where F means failed. 

Examination support material


More about examination support material