Jump to content

MGUSA503 Social studies 3, module 3 - Research methods and source critisism

Course description for academic year 2024/2025

Contents and structure

The course endeavors to equip students with a comprehensive understanding of disciplinary methodologies, facilitating a nuanced comprehension of the intricate interplay between research design and data collection. Emphasis is placed on empowering master's program participants to autonomously conduct research.

Furthermore, the course situates methodological frameworks within the broader epistemological landscape of social science research. Key themes such as subjectivity, objectivity, methodological individualism, collectivism, reflexivity, and constructivism are critically examined to provide students with a foundational understanding. Through this lens, students engage with diverse methodological approaches, with a particular focus on refining research design, executing data collection methodologies, and navigating methodological challenges.

Key teaching topics include:

  • Epistemological grounding of social science research.
  • Quantitative methodology: emphasis on acquainting students with quantitative techniques, such as surveys, and their application within social science research.
  • Qualitative methodology: emphasis on planning and conducting qualitative research interviews, observations, and text analyses.
  • Source criticism: students will work with various types of sources and develop a reflexive attitude towards the critical apparatus of source criticism.

Learning Outcome

The student shall have the following learning outcomes defined in knowledge, skills, and general competence:


The student

  • has knowledge of the scientific theoretical basis for the social science method
  • has knowledge of various quantitative and qualitative methods
  • has knowledge of research ethical laws and guidelines, as well as good research practices.
  • has knowledge of various forms of data collection, analysis, and presentation of data
  • has knowledge of important databases and archives.


The student

  • can create a research design for their own master's thesis and justify the choice of method in writing and orally
  • can assess relevant tools for collecting and analyzing empirical material for use in their own teaching practice.

General Competence

The student

  • can see connections between the research question, research design, data collection, and final research results and make appropriate choices of method based on these connections.
  • has a reflective attitude towards source criticism.

Entry requirements


Recommended previous knowledge

MGUSA101/102, MGUSA201/202, MGUSA301/302, MGUSA401/402

Teaching methods

The instructional approach encompasses a blend of lectures, independent study, and seminar discussions, fostering an interactive learning environment. Active engagement from students is encouraged, with seminar participation serving as a pivotal component. Students are tasked with crafting a project outline delineating the framework for their forthcoming research endeavor within their master's thesis. Throughout the outline's development, segments will be subject to thorough examination and debate during seminar sessions. This pedagogical framework prioritizes critical analysis, reflective inquiry, and collaborative discourse, thereby nurturing a scholarly ethos conducive to robust intellectual exploration.

Compulsory learning activities

There are two mandatory learning activities in the course.

Mandatory Learning Activity 1: Students are required to participate in task seminars where they will present their own project outline and also serve as an opponent to at least one other project outline.

Mandatory Learning Activity 2: Students are required to write a project assignment of up to 4000 words, which presents the research design and methods for their master's thesis. Guidelines for the project assignment will be provided at the beginning of the course. The project assignment must be approved by the supervisor.

Completion of the mandatory learning activities is necessary for students to be eligible to take the exam.


Oral examination lasting up to 30 minutes. During the oral examination, students will be questioned on the common syllabus and methodological issues related to their own project assignment.

Grading scale A-F, where F corresponds to a failing grade.

Examination support material


More about examination support material