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Case Study Research: Method and Practice

Ingo Rohlfing

Universität Passau

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.


Course Dates and Times

Monday 25 – Friday 29 July 2022
2 hours of live teaching per day
10:00 – 12:00 CEST

Prerequisite Knowledge

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

Short Outline

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 be able to implement a sound case study.

ECTS Credits

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

Long Course Outline

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

Day 1

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 also briefly discuss the role and importance of populations. 

Day 2

Explore the menu of case types available for analysis (typical, most-likely, etc) and learn how to choose the case you need to achieve your research goal. 

Day 3

We introduce different types of comparisons. You'll learn how they relate to the types of cases and their choice, and the benefits – and limits – of informed comparisons. 

Day 4

We introduce process tracing and learn how it can be used to study mechanisms. We'll discuss the pros and cons of different types of sources, and their organisation in the research process. 

Day 5

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

Our course consists 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 involve Q&A sessions on the recordings. The main part will be applying general methodological principles to published case studies, and to your individual projects. Each live session will last about 3 hours in total per day.

Additional Information


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.