Borderland: Critical Approaches to Field Research in the Global South

Course content

This course is designed to provide students with an opportunity to think critically about the research process in the conduct of research. It combines classroom learning with field engagement and immersion in local environment that include placement with local NGOs or ongoing research projects in and around Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand.

Emphasizing the research process rather than the mastery of a specific topic or method, the aim is to provide students with the tools to raise and address critical questions in their own research and a foundation from which they can apply the knowledge and practices from the course to future projects. We envision that, by the end of the course, each student will have produced a polished draft of a research project proposal (5-7 pages) that could be used for future engagement with the Global South.


Short video from the course, Summer 2018:



Summer school course 2019.



Learning outcome
  • For students to have a deeper understanding and insights of the issues facing the Global South and the world in the 21st Century.
  • For students to be able to raise and address critical questions in their own research.
  • For students to engage with local NGOs and ongoing research projects, and integrate their knowledge/insights into their own research process.
  • For students to have a critical foundation from which they can apply the knowledge and practices from the course to future projects.
  • For students to be able to apply their knowledge and understanding to the development of a research proposal.

Lecture, seminar style discussion and reflection, and field research.

The course is divided into four phases:
1. Pre-departure preparation: reading, online research on topics and contexts.
2. Introduction week: Classroom lectures, seminars, group work, field trips and preparation for entering the field
3. Field research: Placement with NGOs and research projects.
4. Evaluation and writing: Group presentations for invited stakeholders, writing and finalizing project proposals

The program schedule may be subject to change since this is a field course and we need to build in some flexibility in order to be able to accommodate local circumstances and exigencies if necessary.

Course literature will be avaible via dropbox in the end of May.

The course is open to students from all fields and disciplines. Priority is given to students with interests in global development and the Global South, which can be approached from many different disciplinary angles. It is an advantage if the students have taken a field and/or methods course prior to enrolling in this field course.

Proficient English skills (written and oral) are a must.

This course is open for Postgraduate (Master level) students and advanced bachelor (undergraduate) students.

Jointly developed and offered by University of Copenhagen and UC Berkeley as a collaborative initiative of the IARU GSP and the Global Transformation Initiative.

For questions and more details about the course, contact Andreas Egelund Christensen at

Student experiences from the course, Summer 2018: https:/​/​​newslist/​usek-news/​student-experiences-in-northern-thailand/​

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, .
Course participation, .
Assessment will be based on a) active participation in the course including group work and b) submission of a well-developed research proposal.

The research proposal must be 5 to 7 pages (2400 key strokes pr. page)
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 24
  • Field Work
  • 88
  • E-Learning
  • 72
  • Exam
  • 32
  • English
  • 216