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Case Study Research: Method and Practice

Course Dates and Times

Monday 27 ꟷ Friday 31 July 2020
2 hours of live teaching per day
Courses will be either morning or afternoon to suit participants’ requirements

Ingo Rohlfing

Universität Passau

This seminar-type course provides a highly interactive online teaching and learning environment, using state of the art online pedagogical tools. It is designed for a demanding audience (researchers, professional analysts, advanced students) and capped at a maximum of 12 participants so that the Instructor can cater to the specific needs of each individual.

By the end of this course...

You will have learned about all elements of comparative case studies and process tracing, and able to implement a sound case study.

ECTS Credits

3 credits Engage fully with class activities 
4 credits Complete a post-class assignment

Instructor Bio

Ingo Rohlfing is Professor of Methods of Empirical Social Research at the University of Passau

He researches social science methods with a focus on qualitative methods (case studies and process tracing), Qualitative Comparative Analysis and multimethod research.

Ingo is author of Case Studies and Causal Inference (Palgrave Macmillan) and he has published articles in Comparative Political Studies, Sociological Methods & Research and Political Analysis.


The course organisation follows the research process. 
We will cover each of the following topics step by step.

Day 1

You will learn about the landscape of case study designs and identify the design that fits your research question. Starting with a brief discussion of concepts, we will also briefly discuss the role and importance of populations. 

Day 2

You will learn about the menu of types of cases that you can choose for analysis (typical, most-likely etc) and how to choose the case you need to achieve your research goal. 

Day 3

We introduce different types of comparisons, how they relate to the types of cases and their choice, and what the benefits and limits of informed comparisons are. 

Day 4

You will be introduced to process tracing and how it can be used to study mechanisms. This includes a discussion of the pros and cons of different types of sources and their organisation in the research process. 

Day 5

We conclude by arranging all elements in a broader picture and discuss the generalisation challenge in small-n research.

Our course will consist of multiple components. 

First, pre-recorded sessions introduce you to the methodological principles of case study research. The recordings come with small quizzes and sets of questions for self-paced practice. Watch the videos before the course starts. Interactive live online sessions use Zoom, along with tools such as etherpads.

The live sessions will involve Q&A sessions on the recordings. The main part will be the application of general methodological principles to published case studies and your individual projects. Each live session will last about 180 minutes in total per day.

Prior training in research design and qualitative methods is recommended, but not required.

Each course includes pre-course assignments, including readings and pre-recorded videos, as well as daily live lectures totalling at least three hours. The instructor will conduct live Q&A sessions and offer designated office hours for one-to-one consultations.

Please check your course format before registering.

Online courses

Live classes will be held daily for three hours on a video meeting platform, allowing you to interact with both the instructor and other participants in real-time. To avoid online fatigue, the course employs a pedagogy that includes small-group work, short and focused tasks, as well as troubleshooting exercises that utilise a variety of online applications to facilitate collaboration and engagement with the course content.

In-person courses

In-person courses will consist of daily three-hour classroom sessions, featuring a range of interactive in-class activities including short lectures, peer feedback, group exercises, and presentations.


This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc.). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.