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Case Study Research: Method and Practice

Course Dates and Times

Monday 7 – Friday 11 August 2023
Minimum 2 hours of live teaching per day
09:30 – 12:00 CEST

Ingo Rohlfing

Universität Passau

This course offers an immersive online learning environment that employs state-of-the-art pedagogical tools. With a maximum of 16 participants, our teaching team can provide personalised attention to each individual, catering to their specific needs. The course is designed for a demanding audience, including researchers, professional analysts, and advanced students.

Purpose of the course

This course covers key elements of qualitative case studies and process tracing for the purpose of making causal claims about effects or mechanisms. Before the course starts, for each of the sessions, you can watch a recording that sets the stage for the live online sessions.

By the end of the course, you will have a solid understanding of the key concepts and techniques covered, as well as practical experience in their application. This knowledge and experience will equip you with valuable skills that can be applied to your research or professional work.

ECTS Credits

4 credits - Engage fully in class activities and 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.


Key topics covered

The course covers a combination of introductions of selected topics with interactive live sessions. 

Day 1

Discover the key dimensions of qualitative research useful for understanding the features and goals of a study, for example in terms of the distinction between hypothesis exploration and hypothesis tests.

Day 2

Address the challenge of case selection and types of cases such as the typical case and most-likely case. Discuss different types, what they are good for, and what case selection strategies they imply.

Day 3

Process tracing is introduced, and you will learn how it can be used to study mechanisms. You will distinguish different ways of studying processes, and their pros and cons from a practical and methodological perspective.

Day 4

Learn about 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 pairwise comparisons. 

Day 5

Discuss different types of sources and how to use them to derive qualitative observations. This discussion will be complemented by a distinction between different modes of making causal claims, for example, by focusing on the ideas of 'uniqueness' and 'likelihoods'.

In each live session, you will work with your own projects or published case studies to illustrate concepts from the methods literature.

As a part of this course, you will have the opportunity to complete a post-class assignment that allows you to apply the insights gained during the course. This assignment can take the form of an exposé, where you will utilise the course concepts and techniques to analyse and evaluate your own project. Alternatively, you can choose to write a short, methods-focused review of a published case study, demonstrating your understanding of the course material and its practical application.

How the course will work online

The course combines asynchronous pre-class assignments, such as readings and watching pre-recorded videos, as well as daily 2.5 hours live sessions with Zoom. To prevent Zoom fatigue, the course pedagogy includes small-group work, short, focused tasks and troubleshooting exercises using a range of online apps that support collective work and engagement with the course content.

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

Each course includes pre-course assignments, including readings and pre-recorded videos, as well as daily live lectures totalling at least two 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 two 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.