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FE409 Methods course for Renewable Energy

Course description for academic year 2021/2022

Contents and structure

The method course has three parts. The first part concerns themes from scientific theory such as cause and 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 fundamental knowledge about registrations of energy in public accounts and they will learn how to critically assess different international energy accounts.

Learning Outcome

The course provides a fundamental 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).

The student...

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

The student...

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

The student...

  • will acquire knowledge about conditions and limitations by applying different methodological approaches
  • will be able to perform a critical assessment of application of scientific methods in scientific publications
  • will be able to identify methodological problems in in formulating research questions, both in own research and in other scientific publications
  • will be able to reflect on scientific accumulation of evidence in other studies and assess to what degree the researcher is part of the scientific object
  • will acquire fundamental competences in LCA-analysis

Entry requirements


Recommended previous knowledge


Teaching methods

Lectures, assignments and exercises. 

Compulsory learning activities

Three (3) written assignments, one with qualitative method, one with quantitative method and one with collection and analysis of data based on a self-designed model connected to the course's themes. Three of three assignments must be approved (passed) before one may take the exam.


Written school exam, 4 hours.

Grading scale A-F, where F represents a fail.

Examination support material


More about examination support material