PhD course on Qualitative Methods and the Study of Civil War

Please note: This page refers to an event that has already taken place.

Time: Mon 02 (09:00) - Thu 05 (17:00) May 2011
Place: PRIO, Hausmanns gate 7, Oslo

This course is about the application of qualitative methods to the study of civil war. It begins with an overview of the cutting edge in qualitative methods, intentionally casting its epistemological net broadly. We thus assess methods inspired by positivism (case studies, process tracing, counterfactual analysis) and those more interpretative in nature (discourse, ethnography, textual analysis) - the goal being to provide students with a robust set of tools for explaining and understanding the dynamics of civil war. The course also reviews the promise (and pitfalls) of methodological pluralism or so-called mixed methods.

Key readings for this first part include work by Andrew Bennett, John Gerring, Ted Hopf, Evan Lieberman, James Mahoney, Jennifer Milliken and Sid Tarrow.

The stage thus set, the bulk of the course then explores applications of qualitative and mixed methods to the study of civil war. Our focus is not so much what these studies say about the dynamics of civil conflict; rather, we assess their use of qualitative methods. What slippage occurs (and why) between the abstract methodological ideal and real world applications? What counts as good process tracing in the context of civil war? Why are interpretive qualitative methods - and the constructivist theorizing that inspires them - often absent in work on civil war? What are the special challenges of employing mixed methods, and can or should one mix methods across epistemological divides? Here, key readings will include work by Christopher Blattman, Lee Ann Fujii, Stathis Kalyvas, Roger Petersen, Idean Salehyan, Nicholas Sambanis, Jeremy Weinstein and Elisabeth Wood.


Prerequisites: The course assumes a basic knowledge of qualitative methods, as taught, say, at the master’s level.
Requirements: (1) Active participation in class discussions (NB - This means that assigned readings should be completed prior to the start of the course); and (2) preparation of a 6000-10000 word analytic essay (due within three months of the course’s end).

Format: The course will be run as a seminar, where discussion and debate are the norm.
Credits: 10 ECTS
Syllabus: Here is the full syllabus for this year
Registration: The course is fully booked now.

Please contact Andrew Feltham, Chief Administrator, Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo (; +47 22 54.77.25).
Course Fees: TBA.


  • Papers are graded Pass/Fail.
  • MA students are allowed to participate, but this is dependent on available spaces. First come first serve. The requirements are the same: in terms of the syllabus, active participation, and handing in a paper.
  • Usefull tips on accomodation in Oslo (your own responsibility).


    Students are responsible for getting all the litterature on their own. However, a few selected pieces are made available here since they can be difficult to access elsewere. Se the related files list.