14.1. – 17.3.2019

Introduction to Research Methods

Introduction to Research Methods
Course title: Introduction to Research Methods
Coordinating university: University of Helsinki
Coordinators: David Lawson 
Email: unipidresearchskills@gmail.com and david.lawson@helsinki.fi
Teaching language: English
Credits: 5 ECTS
Course dates: 14.01.2019 - 17.03.2019
Registration dates:  01.12.2018 - 10.01.2019

NOTE: SIMHE Courses are directed at asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. To browse UniPID courses for students at Finnish universities,click here.

Course Summary:

Understanding, and being able to implement, research methods is fundamental for enabling students to critically analyse research literature in terms of their methodological foundations and allow them to understand how this relates to major policy issues.

This course provides an introduction to the background issues of research methods, by providing an overview of research processes, the importance of understanding literature on a research subject, and a focus on ethical considerations that are required. The course provides an outline of quantitative, qualitative and mixed research methods thus enabling students to understand how to use such methods in understanding the global policies.

Students will be able to generate, quantitative data - whether this be to use as background statistics for their own research questions or to form part of more in depth quantitative research. We will also review qualitative and mixed methods research. This course will provide students with quantitative and qualitative research skills required for undertaking data analysis for global issues.

The course will commence with an overview of research methods and ethics. The first of 2 main sections of the course will provide an outline of different types of quantitative research, basic concepts, quantitative research process and examples from applied research, and introduce some basic quantitative indicators. The assignments will require students to undertake their own data analysis exercises from an online database of their choice e.g. GapMinder, OECD - SIGI Gender Institutions and Development Index, with associated practice sessions prior to this. The 2nd main section of the course will focus on qualitative research methods outlining how to design participatory and life history and mixed methods and applying these.

The reading list for each lecture will be distributed at the start of each lecture. There is no single text that covers the full range of materials studied in the course. Readings will also be provided via moodle - that will host all the course material and can provide guest access for non-Finnish university registered students.

The lecture series will comprise:

Section 1: Background to Research Methods

Week 1: Introduction to Research Methods and the Research Process and link to Research Ethics and Integrity

Week2: Critical appraisal of Research Methods/Internet Forum Discussion Week / Practice Short (1 page) Essay:  Assignment 1 - Evaluation 0-5 (0% of overall marks  - practice assignment).

Section 2: Quantitative Research

Week 3: Introduction to Quantitative Research, Study Designs and Methods

Week 4&5: Examples of Analysis and Interpretation of Quantitative Data e.g. GapMinder, OCED-SIGI index. Online material + practice exercise.

Week 6: Application of Quantitative Research - Short Data Assignment Using Online Applied Quantitative Data set - Assignment 2 - Evaluation 0-5 (40% of overall marks).

Section 3: Qualitative Research (and Mixed Methods)

Week 7: Introduction to Qualitative (Mixed Methods) Research, Study Designs and Methods

Week 8: Analysis and Interpretation of Qualitative (Mixed Methods) Data and Practical Examples

Week 9: Student Work Session - Application of Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research - Assignment 3 - Essay Evaluation 0-5 (60% of final mark).

Overall, the lecture, supplementary reading, videos, and use of internet etc. will provide an applied quantitative learning environment, and will allow students to link this to global issues that they find of interest. Students will become familiar with some of the most well used development database. No prior knowledge of research skills are required, however a keen interest in learning and implementing research skills is required.


On completion of the unit students will be able to :

  • Apply research methods and understand ethical issues: Assignment 1: Evaluation 0-5 (0% of Final mark- Practice Assignment)
  • Use international database
  • Demonstrate competence in assessing quantitative data in a critical way: Assignment 2 - Evaluation 0-5 (40% of final mark)
  •  Appropriately use quantitative and qualitative research methods for analysing issues related to global studies:
  •  Critique quantitative and qualitative methods and data, understand/demonstrate awareness of their importance for development studies: Assignment 3 - Evaluation 0-5 (50% of final mark).
  • Communicate effectively in written formats

Learning methods:

  • Compulsory      pre-course questionnaire/short assignment on the motivations for doing the course.
  • The first assignment will be a non-assessed practice assignment of 1-2 pages. Comprehensive written feedback and suggested mark will be provided within 1 week for each student, in order that they understand how to improve essays (where needed).
  • Following the first non-assessed-essay  -  There will be 2 subsequent work sheet exercises, from which students will be required to submit answers. The first of these will be based on an online database exercise. These 2 assignments can be undertaken during the allocated weeks, when forum discussions will be used - with the tutor providing guidance.
  • In recognizing that deadline flexibility may also be required. Students also have the option of submitting the assignments at the end of the course.
  • Forum discussion
  • Reading, Videos.
  • Lectures (ppoint)
All materials will be in English

Study materials:

Moodle, Texts, www-materials - access to internet essential.


Grade 0-5.

The final mark will consist of two work assignments

These will require students to access the online database (mentioned above) undertake analysis, generate simple descriptive statistics and understand qualitative methods. and produce a short report.

To ensure excellent student interaction the maximum number of students will be set at 20. Only those who complete the pre course questionnaire will be provided with materials - if this is more than 20, then the pre-course questionnaire answers will be used to determine participation.

Registration for this course opens 1.12.