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Planning Interdisciplinary Research

7.5 ECTS Copenhagen Year 2 Semester 3 Compulsory Integrative/inter/transdisciplinary NIFK18001U


Are you developing a project proposal, planning a thesis in development research or just tired of your MSc level grant applications not being funded?

Planning Interdisciplinary Research, addresses the challenges of preparing for fieldwork and collection of empirical material with an emphasis on what can broadly be termed ‘development research’. The course requires students to compose a proposal for a research study,  preferably focusing on natural resource management and governance, and in preparation for their MSc thesis.

The course is tailored to 2nd year MSc students. During the course, it is an advantage with support from a disciplinary supervisor (e.g. the MSc thesis supervisor), as is prior identification of a topic area. We will consider traditional disciplinary projects as well as explore the possible synergies and pitfalls of planning and conducting interdisciplinary research. Teaching 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.

Students’ research proposals must incorporate a literature review, a clear statement of research questions and hypothesis to be tested (as appropriate), an outline of proposed methods including analytical approach (i.e. identification strategy – as appropriate) and an assessment of the 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. Methods must consider research design, sampling strategy, identification strategy (as appropriate) and considerations about benefits and disadvantages of different methods/models. 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 proposals produced during the course.

Recommended Academic Qualifications

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.


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.

Learning outcomes

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


  • Identify and apply the core elements of a research proposal, including critical discussion of literature and problem identification, development of research questions and hypothesis (as appropriate), determine data requirements, and select appropriate methods for data collection and analyses.
  • Situate own research in the context of relevant empirical and theoretical literatures.
  • Reflect on risks and ethical issues in relation to project implementation.


  • Write a well structured research proposal
  • Demonstrate independent learning skills
  • Identify and situate knowledge gaps in the relevant literature and design projects to address these gaps by collecting, analysing and evaluating appropriate qualitative and quantitative information creatively.

Teaching and learning methods

Blended learning combining e-learning and class-room activities. E-learning is centeredcentred 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.

Topics addressed include: the problem statement, philosophy of science, interdisciplinarity, hypothesis, conceptual framework, and ethics and practicalities. Guest lectures will present on individual topics.


  • Lectures                      10 hours
  • Class instruction       20 hours
  • Preparation                65 hours
  • Theory exercises       10 hours
  • E-learning                  20 hours
  • Project work               74 hours
  • Guidance                     2 hours
  • Total                             206 hours


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.

Type of assessment

  • Individual
  • Written assignment
  • The written assignment consists of a research proposal. Students will work iteratively on the proposal during the course, and they hand in the final proposal in week 8 of the course. The research proposal counts 100 % of the grade. In order to qualify for the final examination, students must hand in three peer review reports.


  • Location : Copenhagen
  • ECTS granting : University of Copenhagen
  • Organisation : University of Copenhagen


Martin Reinhardt Nielsen