Research Skills


Course Objective

This course lets the student reflect on how to conduct research and what
is necessary to make a research project a success. In order to reach
this greater goal the student must be able to:
• know and apply The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific
• reflect on his/her own favourite learning style;
• find adequate literature for his/her own research project;
• recognize the difference between rhetorical and scientific
• evaluate and write at different levels;
• evaluate literature that discusses his/her research topic;
• apply methodological literature;
• write a coherent, well-defined and methodologically correct research
• integrate feedback from different angles.

Course Content

Research outcome mainly hit the tabloids for two reasons. It is either
an enormous breakthrough in some field of science or it is proven
enormously fraudulent. These circumstances, however, are two extremes of
a vast area in which scholars are doing their best to come to good
research results. No course can instruct a student how to reach a
breakthrough, but a course in research skills can at least teach how to
avoid the extremity of fraud and flawed science. This course aims for
more, namely to show you how to set up good research, starting with the
research question – everything within the boundaries of a correct
argumentation scheme and with an eye for several phenomena relevant to
theology and the study of religion(s)..

Teaching Methods

Lectures in period 3, both required and voluntary.
Tutorials in period 3, in which the research proposal will be reviewed.

Method of Assessment

A: Two reviews of the book by Van Eemeren & Snoeck Henkemans (30%).
B: Analysis of two self-chosen scientific articles (20%).
C: Statement that the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific
Practices has been read (5%).
D: Outcome of a thorough library search (5%).
E: Summary of two methodological chapters or articles (10%).
F: Definitive research proposal according to the give format (30%): this
proposal must be approved by the tutorial leader and a possible thesis
supervisor before the course can be passed.


- M. Stausberg & S. Engler (eds). The Routledge Handbook of Research
Methods in the Study of Religion. Oxon: Routledge, 2011 (e-book UBVU).
- The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice: Principles of
good academic teaching and research. ‘s-Gravenhage: VSNU, third revised
edition, 2014 (website of vsnu).
- F.H. van Eemeren & A.F. Snoeck Henkemans. Argumentation: Analysis and
Evaluation. New York & Oxon: Routledge, 2nd edition, 2017.
- Guidelines for Writing a Thesis ThRS (or: Nederlandse richtlijnen voor
het schrijven van een scriptie), see Canvas or VUnet.

Target Audience

This course is for all students of the three Master's programmes of the
faculty Religion and Theology, with two exceptions:

not follow the course in the third period, but in the fourth period.
They will study Christine E. Gudorf, Comparative Religious Ethics:
Everyday Decisions for Our Everyday Lives (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,
2013). They will prepare their research proposal during the Master

Students of the RESEARCH MASTER will follow a different pathway during
the third period. They will do tutorials on how to write a scientific
article by studying Aleth Bolt & Walter Bruins, Effective Scientific
Writing: An Advanced Learner's Guide to Better English (Amsterdam: VU
University Press, 5th edition, 2017). They will prepare their research
proposal during Research Design 1-2.

Additional Information

(1) One cannot enter this course without having submitted a preliminary
thesis proposal before 15 December 2018.
(2) This course can only be completed if the definite research proposal
is approved by the tutorial leader and a professor in the field of the
research proposal.
(3) Part time students are allowed to do assignments A and B in the
first year and assignements C through F in the second.

Custom Course Registration

Although not every student of the Master's programme will follow the same lectures and tutorials, every student is to enroll in this course in order to receive the earned 6 EC. Parttime students may follow the course in two years. It is recommended to do assignments A and B in the first year and assignments C through F in the second.

General Information

Course Code G_RESSK
Credits 6 EC
Period P1+2+3
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Religion and Theology
Course Coordinator dr. E. van Staalduine-Sulman
Examiner dr. E. van Staalduine-Sulman
Teaching Staff prof. dr. C. van der Kooi
prof. dr. M. Moyaert
dr. A.L. Vroom
prof. dr. H. Amirav
dr. L. Minnema
prof. dr. A.F.M. van der Braak
prof. dr. L.J. Lietaert Peerbolte
dr. E. van Staalduine-Sulman
dr. V.A. van Bijlert
prof. dr. E.V. Tolstoj

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture, Study Group
Target audiences

This course is also available as: