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Qualitative Methods for Social Scientists

This course introduces participants to the essentials of qualitative research methods in social science research. It blends a theoretical and practical orientation, with the two-fold goal of providing participants with tools to (a) become thoughtful consumers of social science research that uses qualitative methods; and (b) begin working towards designing and executing sound research projects using qualitative methods.

Target group
Postdoctoral researcher
PhD candidate
Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl  (Senior assistant professor) Juan Masullo Jimenez  (Assistant Professor)
Training course
11 per day (33 hours total)

Deadline registration is Monday 22 January 2024

This is a three-day course, structured in two parts. Part I discusses what qualitative methods are suitable for, the logic of inference underlying qualitative research, and the most common within-case and cross-case research designs used in qualitative social science, including process tracing and controlled comparisons. Part II turns the attention toward specific methods for data collection and data analysis, covering participant observation, interviewing, focus groups, archival research, content analysis and coding techniques.

Mode of instructions

Mix of lectures, discussion and practical activities.

Reading list

These books below are exemplars of some of the methods covered in the class. Participants should choose at least one book and read it as background for the course.  

Duneier, Mitchell. Sidewalk. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. (ethnography, participant observation)

Finkel, Evgeny. Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival During the Holocaust. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2017. (archival research)

Slater, Dan. Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. (cross-case comparisons, qualitative historical analysis)

Wood, Elisabeth J. Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. (interviewing, sub-national comparisons)


Target group

One day

Two days

Three days

PhD candidates FSW/FGGA




Staff FSW




Other Leiden University PhD candidates








*Externals are PhD candidates related to staff members of FSW (buitenpromovendi) and/or staff members of other Leiden University Faculties.

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