Amsterdam, Netherlands

Difficult Settings: Preparing for Fieldwork

when 1 July 2023 - 15 July 2023
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 1050

"This course can help you write an explicit fieldwork plan and enhance your capability of carrying out qualitative research in practice. Most qualitative research methods courses offer theoretical framework, research planning, data collection and analysis in one course within one semester. For Master and PhD students in earlier stages who will prepare and conduct qualitative fieldwork, many opportunities, challenges and potential risks are not discussed well enough. This relates for instance to finding and including respondents in your sample, but also dealing with time and delay, and even violence and other forms of sexual harassment, which are all issues that until now are hardly discussed in preparations. The most careful planning can mean little once the researcher encounters the real world.

In this course, by openly discussing specific issues, students have the liberty to make a choice regarding to each different situation. This course can bring to light the gap between textbook theory and methods in practice. Due to the short period of time for this course, it focuses on two qualitative research methods: in-depth interview and field observation through scenario-based training in each session. Each topic includes one specific scenario under provided contexts. There are some awkward and worrisome situations, sometimes risks, in each scenario for students to cope with. It seems that the global pandemic might stay with us for a while. This course will take this opportunity to further discuss how to deal with its impact on your data collection period and it will be involved in this topic session."

Course leader

Fiona Shan

Target group

1) The course is intended for master level students who want to embark on a PhD in social science, and PhD candidates in their early stage of the projects who have knowledge of qualitative research in social sciences and have interests in interdisciplinary studies. 
2) Candidates experiencing obstacles or setbacks in financial, mental and other perspectives due to the global COVID pandemic.

Course aim

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

- know how to cope with unexpected problems under difficult conditions.
- reflect on your positionality, including your interactions with participants and boundaries, as a researcher in the field.
- understand how to better protect yourself as a researcher and your participants from potential negative effects.
- learn how to be flexible in your recruitment strategies due to the limited contact with people in the field during the global pandemic.

Credits info

3 EC
Contact hours: 45

Fee info

EUR 1050: Tuition fees two-week course

VU Students/PhD candidates and employees of VU Amsterdam* or an Aurora Network Partner €700
Students at Partner Universities of VU Amsterdam €950
Students and PhD candidates at non-partner universities of VU Amsterdam €1050
Professionals €1250

Early Bird offer
Applications received before 15 March (14 March CET 23:59) receive €50 Early Bird discount!


VU Amsterdam Summer School offers two kinds of scholarships: the Equal Access Scholarship and the Photographer Scholarship. More information can be found on the VU Amsterdam Summer School website.