Cancelled Qualitative Methods: From Interviews and Observation to Analysis

Course content

Do you plan to use interviews, document analysis, or observation for your thesis or in a future job? Would you like to learn about case studies and other qualitative research designs, and about how to analyze and present data acquired through such methods and designs? Would you like to understand the theoretical and scientific foundations for qualitative data collection methods and research designs?

This course equips you to understanding people and their interactions with natural resources, the climate, and the environment by applying qualitative methods. Take the course in preparation for fieldwork, for writing your thesis or other assignments that include qualitative data. The course may also help you to gain deeper insights into practical and theoretical aspects of methods you have previously applied.

During the course, we will discuss how people’s experiences, rationalities, beliefs, and values are relevant in the study of biophysical phenomena. We will discuss what data is, what qualitative versus quantitative and mixed methods are, how they relate to different types of knowledge, and what the role of theories and concepts is in data collection and analysis.

We will examine theoretical and practical aspects of specific data collection methods and research designs. This includes when and how to apply these methods and designs, the pros and cons of each method and of combining them, and how to ensure the quality of data. You will learn how to construct and carry out a small-scale questionnaire survey, semi-structured interviews, elite interviews, focus group interviews, participatory rural appraisal, and participatory observation. With regard to research designs, our focus will be on different types of case studies, but we will also look at other research designs and discuss what determines their applicability.

In addition, the course provides you with hands-on experience with analysis of qualitative data: how to organize your data, when and how to use different types of coding, how to present your data (E.g.; Quotes? How many? How?), and how to interpret and analyze data within a selected conceptual and/or theoretical framework.

There will be plenty of exercises during classes. The lectures and exercises draw on a broad range of examples relevant to natural resources and the environment, such as climate change, nature conservation, agriculture, forestry, food waste, water, etc. The examples may come from all parts of the world, although with some emphasis on the Global South.  

During the course, you will work on a group assignment on a topic relevant in a Danish context. The assignment includes data collection in the neighborhood, and analyzing and reporting processes and results within a conceptual and/or theoretical framework defined early on during the course. Critical reflections on your choice of methods and implications to the quality of data form part of your final group report. You can chose from a broad range of predefined topics. The topics will vary from year to year, but could include food waste, climate change adaptation, forest certification, nature and health, fair trade, etc.

The basic premises of the course are that a) qualitative and quantitative methods can be defined on a continuum and are complementary rather than contradictory; b) choice of methods must follow from the type of knowledge you want to produce given the research context and available resources, and that c) qualitative methods are indispensable if you want to understand people and their interaction with the environment.



MSc Programme Climate Change

Learning outcome

At the end of the course, the students can


1.Describe major scientific theoretical directions and understand how they underpin different approaches to data collection and analysis

2.Describe key qualitative data collection methods and research designs.

3.Describe key strategies for qualitative data analysis.



  1. 1.Formulate a research problem and question of relevance to a scientific debate
  2. 2.Develop an analytical framework and formulate operational sub-questions for data collection
  3. 3.Select and apply relevant data collection methods
  4. Organize qualitative data



  1. 1.Analyze data by relating them to a particular research question and analytical framework.
  2. 2.Reflect on how choice of methods, designs, and strategies may have impacted on analysis and results.
  3. 3.Work in a team under time pressure (project work).


Lectures, group project with practical exercises, case descriptions, theoretical exercises

See Absalon for a list of course literature.

Useful as introduction: Mikkelsen,B. 2005. Methods for Development Work and Research. A New Guide for Practitioners, SAGE

This course is open to all students who want to improve their skills, competences and knowledge about qualitative data collection methods, such as interviews, participant observation, text analysis, etc. Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

The course is identical to the discontinued course NIFK19002U Qualitative Methods. Therefore you cannot register for NIFK21003U - Qualitative Methods: From Interviews and Observation to Analysis, if you have already passed NIFK19002U Qualitative Methods.
If you are registered with examination attempts in NIFK19002U Qualitative Methods without having passed the course, you have to use your last examination attempts to pass the exam in NIFK21003U - Qualitative Methods: From Interviews and Observation to Analysis. You have a total of three examination attempts.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 25 minutes
The exam will include a discussion of the project report (exam registration requirements) and questions that relate to the rest of the curriculum. No time for preparation.

The 25 minutes of examination include assessment.

Weight: Oral exam counts for 100% of final mark.
Only certain aids allowed

The student can bring the approved project report and max one A4 page of written notes prepared at home. 

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

To obtain the grade 12 the student must fullfil the Learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 22
  • Preparation
  • 70
  • Theory exercises
  • 10
  • Field Work
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 80
  • Guidance
  • 3
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 206