YRM-20306 Research Methods in Environmental Science


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Literature study
Course coordinator(s)dr. F Cobben
Lecturer(s)dr. F Cobben
dr. PA Tamas
Examiner(s)dr. H Tobi

Language of instruction:



This course focuses on the design of and methods for research in the environmental sciences. Knowledge that students gain will be directly applied in developing a proper design for a research project.
Three research designs will be discussed using examples from the environmental sciences: the experiment, the cross-sectional study, and the longitudinal design. This course deals with several methods relevant to these designs including sampling, methods of data collection (primary and secondary data) and approaches to data analysis.
Students will draw on the research designs and methods discussed in building a research plan over several assignments. Starting from a practical environmental problem, students formulate a research objective and appropriate research questions. Next they develop a research project using the experimental, the cross-sectional, and the longitudinal research design. For each of these designs the students will hand in an elaborated plan by the end of the course.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain the differences between a conceptual and a technical research design;
- describe the defining features of an experimental, cross-sectional, and longitudinal design;
- discuss the operationalization of one- and multidimensional concepts;
- clarify what random and non-random sampling is about;
- describe the pros and cons of different data collection methods;
- reflect critically on the assessment of causality;
- discuss the reliability and validity of measurements;
- craft elaborated research designs in the environmental sciences.


- workshops in which both lecturing and interactive learning take place in small groups;
- writing a plan in which three types of research designs are elaborated.


- multiple choice exam (50%);
- final research plan (50%).
To pass this course, both the exam and the research plan have to be graded at least a 5.5.
Successful partial interim examinations remain valid until the end of the academic year.


Kumar, R. (2005). Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners. SAGE Publications. 332 p. ISBN: 1-4129-1154-X.

Restricted Optional for: MFNForest and Nature ConservationMSc1MO
MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc1MO, 2MO
MGIGeo-Information ScienceMSc1MO, 2MO
MUEUrban Environmental ManagementMSc1MO, 2MO
MAMAquaculture and Marine Resource ManagementMScC: Marine Governance1MO