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Social Science Research Methods MEE115

This course will provide a platform for participants' lifelong learning. It will contribute to the research skills for students through hands-on training in planning and conducting research projects. Methods are drawn from major social science disciplines such as psychology, sociology, political science, and organization studies.

Course description for study year 2022-2023. Please note that changes may occur.

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Research methodology and research methods are at the heart of the course and attached to two major societal challenges: 1) how to study the political, economic, environmental, and social processes involved with the transition towards a sustainable future, and 2) how to study the challenges of societal safety.

This includes scientific frameworks that shape research designs, thereby giving practical scientific work direction. Further, this includes specific research methods to gather and analyze data on specific phenomena such as the discussion and/or implementation of specific sustainability, safety, or security measures.

The course consists of three main, intertwined parts:

Part one places great emphasis on research designs, i.e. development/clarification of the problem to be addressed and what aspects should be investigated, choice of theoretical and conceptual background, and the use of qualitative methods (i.e., interviews, text analysis, discourse analyses, data collection and analysis, and report writing). In this part, participants will start exploring their master thesis-project.

In part two, different approaches to case-study designs will be explained ("most-similar", "small-N", "medium-N" etc.).

The third part mainly covers quantitative research methods, ways of collecting primary and secondary data, applying standard data handling and analysis systems; analyze and report the findings; interpret the results, and critically evaluate the quality of their work.

Learning outcome

It is expected that the students after completing the course will have the following knowledge, skills, and general competencies:


Students who successfully complete the course will:

  • know and understand the principles of doing research in social sciences
  • have knowledge about philosophy of science as a foundation for doing research in social sciences


Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • participate in the methodology discourse in empirical social sciences
  • evaluate social science research
  • design and conduct research, i.e., be able to choose and implement an appropriate research design, including:

               - develop a problem statement and research questions

               - choose a research strategy

               - develop an analytical/theoretical framework

               - use different qualitative and quantitative methods

               - develop sound measurements

               - design an adequate sampling plan

               - analyze the data and report findings appropriately

               - have a good understanding of the quality and validity of their findings


General competence

Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • critically evaluate their own and others' empirical research
  • update their knowledge of research methodology
  • research and write a readable and scientifically sound master thesis
Required prerequisite knowledge
MEE140 Philosophy of Science and Research Methods
Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Written exam 1/1 5 Hours Letter grades Dictionary

Coursework requirements
Compulsory student assignments

During the semester, the students are to develop a research design for a master thesis. This can be done individually or in groups of maximum three people. 

Students on Master in Energy, Environment and Society shall submit all work in English. Students on Norwegian programs may choose to submit in English, bokmål or nynorsk.

Course teacher(s)
Course coordinator: Oluf Langhelle
Course teacher: Thomas Michael Sattich
Course teacher: Torvald Øgaard
Head of Department: Oluf Langhelle
Method of work
Lectures, assignments, discussions and group work.
Open for
Energy, Environment and Society - masterstudium Societal Safety, Master's Degree Programme
Course assessment
Student evaluation will be carried out in accordance with the Faculty of Social Science evaluation system.
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