Planning Interdisciplinary Research

Course content

This course requires students to prepare a proposal for a research study, typically within natural resource management and governance, and preferably in preparation for their MSc thesis. We will consider traditional disciplinary projects as well as explore the possible synergies and pitfalls of planning and conducting interdisciplinary research. In-class and online activities will guide students to critically access their own projects through careful attention to philosophy of science and disciplinary scientific practices. The course is therefore particularly relevant for students who seek to develop research projects that use insights and data collection methods from different disciplines within the social and natural sciences.    

Working on the research proposal in pairs is possible. Students’ research proposals must incorporate a literature review, a clear statement of hypotheses or questions to be addressed, an outline of the methods to be used and an assessment of risks and ethical issues involved. The literature review is expected to contain a critical appraisal of the assembled material and must be produced to journal standard. Identification and assessment of risks and ethical issues are essential to ensure that projects are carried out safely and with due regard to other people and the environment. The values of scholarship are addressed through evaluation of published scientific literature and student peer reviews of proposal drafts produced during the course.

During the course, support from a disciplinary supervisor, e.g. the MSc thesis supervisor, is an advantage, as is the identification of a topic area prior to the course.

To accommodate the diversity of student projects, teaching is provided by a group of teachers with both social and natural science background.


MSc Programme in Agricultural Development

MSc Programme in Forest and Livelihoods (SUTROFOR)

MSc Programme in Sustainable Development in Agriculture (Agris Mundus)

MSc Programme in Forest Ecosystems, Nature and Society (SUFONAMA)

MSc Programme in Forest and Nature Management

Learning outcome

The aim of the course is to provide tools for, and experience with, systematic design of research projects. Presentations from teachers mainly use examples from research within natural and social science aspects of natural resources management and governance, but the principles apply generally. An additional important aim is inculcation of the values of scholarship: inquiry, reflection, integrity, open mindedness, evidence-based thinking, and collegiality.

After completing the course the students should be able to:



Reflect on the quality of research design.

Argue cogently and think critically within the parameters of a particular academic discipline.



Apply principles for good research design, including critical discussion of literature and problem identification, development of hypotheses and research questions, determination of data requirements, and selection of appropriate methods for data collection and analyses.


Reflect on risks and ethical issues in relation to project implementation.



Demonstrate independent learning skills necessary for the foundation of lifelong learning.

Tackle scientific problems by collecting, analysing and evaluating appropriate qualitative and quantitative information and using it creatively.

Display the competencies, key skills, behaviour and attitudes in relation to individual and group work required in professional life.

Blended learning combining e-learning and class-room activities. E-learning is centered around internet-based teaching modules and online exercises. Class-room sessions will be used to: discuss the reading material, provide a thorough understanding of concepts through theoretical exercises and provide space for critical peer discussion of student work and development of constructive comments.

Specific activities include: introduction to course; formulation of individual research problems; presentation of research design principles; online exercises; formation of thematic groups; student peer review; reflection on learning.

General texts are included in the online course compendium. Each student will develop his/her own course literature list according to the subject chosen for investigation.

The course is identical to the discontinued course LFKK10270U Research Planning. Therefore you cannot register for NIFK18001U - Planning Interdisciplinary Research, if you have already passed LFKK10270U Research Planning.

If you are registered with examination attempts in LFKK10270U Research Planning without having passed the course, you have to use your last examination attempts to pass the exam in NIFK18001U - Planning Interdisciplinary Research. You have a total of three examination attempts.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

During the course, students will develop their research plan. A central learning activity is the formative feedback provided by teachers and students.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
The final research proposal counts for 100 % of the grade. Students will work on the proposal during the course, and they hand in the final proposal at a time specified by the course responsible.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

To obtain the mark 12 the student must demonstrate to have obtained the skills, knowledge and competencies described in the Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 5
  • E-Learning
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 65
  • Lectures
  • 10
  • Colloquia
  • 20
  • Theory exercises
  • 10
  • Project work
  • 74
  • Guidance
  • 2
  • English
  • 206