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MOA256 Scientific theory and methods

Course description for academic year 2023/2024

Contents and structure

The course gives the students an overview over the theory of science and methods. The emphasis is on various scientific methods useful for approaching the literature critically, and to be able to make analyses and carrying out simple research or solutions for the master thesis. During the course, students will learn to formulate problems at stake and operational research questions. Through practical exercises, the students will get training in data collection and getting an insight on the challenges. The course will also give an introduction to ethical requirements for research. The aim of this course is also to make a project description for own master thesis. The course must be taken before starting up with the master thesis.

Learning Outcome


The candidate

  • Has understandings on the importance of formulating good scientific problems.
  • Has knowledge on the choice of theory and methods for the writing of scientific works.
  • Has advanced knowledge on planning and on completing scientific works, including academic writing connected to the discipline land use planning, property and land use management.


The candidate

  • Can formulate good scientific problems and hypothesis useful for own master thesis.
  • Can make a plan of own master thesis.
  • Can connect and integrate various theories of science and methods.
  • Can analyse and evaluate the quality of own and others research.

Overall competence

The candidate

  • Can critically explain the scientific basis for research reports and literature within the field of own research discipline.
  • Can critically reflect upon ethical problems connected to various types of research.
  • Can implement a small research project and present analyses and conclusions to specialists and to the general public.

Entry requirements

The programme's admission requirements.

Teaching methods

The teaching will take place in forms of lectures, discussion, short exercises and supervision of the project description. Students must take responsibility for their own learning through both active participation in teaching and self-study.

Compulsory learning activities

Submission of abstract of tentative master thesis (ca 500-800 words) in the middle of the semester and an oral presentation of this.


  • An individual project description/semester assigment for up to 5000 words.

The project description shall describe the problem at issue, theories and the choice of methods related to the master thesis. Furthermore, an implementation plan of the master thesis must be presented. The students choose their own topic.

When failing, an improved version of the individual project description must be done.

Grading scale is A-F where F is fail.

Examination support material

All support material is permitted.

More about examination support material