Research Design

Course introduction

Designing and implementing academic research in the field of urban studies is a major component of the master’s programme at IHS. This Research Design (RD) course guides students to design academic research within the social sciences and to develop their thesis proposal. Together with two Urban Data Analytics (UDA1: quantitative and UDAII: qualitative) courses, it provides students a practical guide for the design and implementation of their thesis research. The sequencing and connection of the various courses is specified in the table.

Course objectives

The course introduces the basics of social science research and offers a practical guide to developing the research design.

After completion of the course students will be able to:

  • Apply criteria to design a consistent problem statement, research objective and research question as building blocks for thesis proposal.
  • Explain how ethics are involved and can be addressed in social science research as well as reliability and validity.
  • Develop a systematic review of relevant academic literature and develop a conceptual framework that is linked to this review.
  • Draft a research design that is coherent in terms of its problem statement, research question, research strategy, theory, and methods for data collection and –analysis.

Course content

This course will develop an understanding of the basics of research design and writing a research proposal offer practical guidance for it by working with hands-on exercises. The course will focus on how various elements of a proper research design should be developed in social science research, including: 

  1. Problem statement, research objectives, research questions
  2. Literature review and conceptual framework,
  3. Operationalization
  4. Research strategy (survey, case study, desk research, quasi-experiment)
  1. Identification of appropriate data collection and analysis methods
  2. Important design considerations: validity, reliability, ethics

The Research Design course, UDA1 & 2 and the Research Workshops (RWs) of the different master tracks are closely aligned with each other. Within those courses students learn and apply methodological skills that support them in completing their theses.

Course information


Urban Management and Development


Block 3




Bahar Sakizlioglu and Saskia Ruijsink




Workshops, lectures, self-study, peer review and group work


Formative assessment plan


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