Social Scientific Methods

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 2EH407

Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Economic History A1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 14 May 2018
Responsible department
Department of Economic History

General provisions

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

Entry requirements

Accepted to the Master's 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.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.