Applied Methodology

Core Course | 6 ECTS | Course: CMM 24 / CRD 24

Instructor: Dr. Veronica Méndez Aragón and Dr. Matthias Kokorsch

Course Catalog Description

About the Course

The core idea of the methods course is really about how to ask good research questions, and then how to answer those questions. The first section of the course covers research design specifically oriented towards UW master's thesis types (i.e., natural and social science field studies, feasibility analysis, business plans, literature analysis, laboratory studies, metadata exploration, etc) but these research design skills are also relevant for the working world and therefore the course covers proposal and grant writing tips. The statistics and social science sections of the course offer the foundation for a variety of methods used in coastal studies research and help students to learn how to conduct and identify high quality research for their thesis as well as their future careers as regional developers or coastal managers. The course ends with an elevator pitch where students practice communicating research ideas effectively and give each other feedback. 


Matthias: Regional development, the structural change of communities and socio-economic challenges have always been my major interests. Coming from an old industrial area in Germany where structural change was a living reality, I faced these issues first-hand throughout my childhood and adolescence. I was also always fascinated by the everyday lives of people living in remote places, particularly in the circumpolar regions. My main current research interests include community resilience, regional development, particularly in sparsely populated regions, structural changes of old-industrial areas, and resource management in combination with aspects of justice and decision-making processes. 

Verónica: I am a conservation ecologist with a particular interest in migratory systems and in understanding the consequences of global environmental change for biodiversity. My current research investigates migratory decisions, individuals’ responses to environmental changes, and their consequences for population demography and distribution. I address all these issues studying one of the most beautiful birds in Iceland, the Eurasian Oystercatcher!


The course provides students with knowledge, skills and competence in applied methods. The course explores key methods used in coastal studies and covers topics such as sampling design, data collection, processing and interpretation. Strength and limitations of relevant methods are discussed. The course includes a series of guest lectures presenting the range of methods used in the field. In addition, connections among methodologies and theoretical issues are addressed. 

In practical sessions, students discuss research articles in relation to coastal studies and their methods. Throughout the course, students apply different methods and acquire the tools for conducting a scientifically sound survey.

On completion of the course, a student:

  • can recognize and explain the most commonly used research methods within coastal studies.
  • can prepare, conduct and interpret surveys and interviews.
  • can identify appropriate methods to address different research questions and to increase research quality.
  • can identify limitations in research execution and methods. 
  • can summarize and criticize existing research methods within coastal studies.