Master’s studies

Syllabus for Social Scientific Methods

Samhällsvetenskapliga metoder


Decisions and guidelines

This course is a compulsory skill course within the Master Programme in the Social Sciences.

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, the student should:

  • be able to formulate scientific problems and argue for their basis in the philosophy of science.

  • be able to justify a research design and its operationalisation with a starting point in different philosphical perspectives.

  • be able to discuss how analysis and results are influenced by methodology.

  • carry out analyses of social scientific data where methodology is of central importance.

  • be well equipped to critically review and discuss the methodological considerations and philosophical foundations that underlie scientific studies.


The course aims to provide the students with advanced knowledge in the area that encompasses the philosophy of science, methodology and methods. By means of the thematic starting point "research design" the students can acquire a method of working that includes knowledge of how philosophical starting points and choice of methods are dependent on one another. One aim of the course is that the students should acquire a sound knowledge and understanding of different perspectives and methods within the main areas and themes of the social sciences.

The course is organised around the theme of "research design", which means that the course starts with the importance of different philosophies of science for the formulation of a problem, choice of methodology and operationalisation. Thereafter, there is further discussion regarding some of the central methods used by social scientists and how these methods have developed parallel with the development of different philosophical perspectives. Central concepts are subject-object, agency-structure, case studies and ethnographical studies, and the possibility to generalise versus the specific. Finally, different analytical approaches and the presentation of results are discussed.

A considerable part of the course is devoted to seminar discussion of texts where research design and methodology as well as philosophical perspectives are "traced" and discussed.


The teaching can consist of lectures, lessons, group exercises and seminars.


The course is examined through written assignments and active seminar participation.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 27, 2016

  • Gaddis, John Lewis. Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past

    Oxford University Press, 2002

    Find in the library


  • Gieryn, Thomas F. Cultural boundaries of science : credibility on the line

    Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999

    Find in the library


  • Hancké, Bob Intelligent Research Design : a guide for beginning researchers in the social sciences

    Oxford: OUP Oxford, 2009.

    Find in the library


Articles assigned by instructor.

Reading list revisions