Methodology courses and philosophy of science

Course information

ECTS: 2.5 
Number of sessions: 4
Hours per session: 4
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • € 575,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


Telephone: +31 (0)10 4082607 (Graduate School)

In the academic year 2023-2024 this course will take place offline.

Session 1
February 6 (Tuesday) 2024
Mandeville building (campus map), room T19-01

Session 2
February 7 (Wednesday) 2024
Mandeville building (campus map), room T19-01

Session 3
February 8 (Thursday) 202
Mandeville building (campus map), room T19-01

Session 4
February 9 (Friday) 2024
Mandeville building (campus map), room T19-01

Enrolment available from the end of October.


Q methodology provides a foundation for the systematic study of subjectivity, people’s views, attitudes or beliefs about a particular topic of interest. From its introduction in 1935, Q methodology was applied in the fields of educational, political and behavioural sciences. Over the past two decades, Q methodology has rapidly gained popularity with scholars across the world and from many other disciplines, such as environmental and health sciences.

Q methodology can be regarded a mixed methods approach as it combines characteristics of quantitative and qualitative methods. In a Q methodology study, participants are provided with a set of carefully sampled items, asked to rank these items according to some specific instruction, and to explain their ranking of the items during a follow-up interview. By-person factor analysis is used to identify significant clusters of correlations in the quantitative data. The resulting factors, together with the qualitative data obtained through the interviews, are interpreted and described as the views, attitudes or beliefs about the topic of study. Q methodology can thus be used to distinguish groups of people based on their views (rather than their socio-demographic characteristics) and to identify points of consensus and disagreement in views on a particular topic. In addition, the results of a Q methodology study can be used to evaluate the effects of events or interventions on views, and to develop questionnaires or measures that cover an issue more comprehensively for the target population. Hence, Q methodology is an interesting addition to the toolbox of both qualitative and quantitative researchers.

Working method

This hands-on course consists of four intensive sessions of four hours each and three assignments in-between sessions. The sessions are a mix of lectures, demonstrations and in-class exercises, covering the relevant background you need for conducting your own Q methodology study. Study materials will be supplied online, please bring your own laptop. 

Learning objectives

After completion of this course, students are able to:

  • Understand the key principles of Q Methodology
  • Develop a Q methodology study in their own research area
  • Interpret the results of a Q methodology study

Session descriptions

Session 1: Introduction to Q Methodology

  • Key principles
  • Design a study
  • Assignment

Session 2: Data collection

  • Experience a study
  • Collect data
  • Assignment

Session 3: Data analysis and interpretation

  • Analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Assignment

Session 4: Miscellaneous topics

  • Resources for Q methodology
  • Q Methodology and survey methods
  • Q&A

Job van Exel is professor at the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management. His main research interests include the methodology of health economics, in particular the study of health behaviours, perceptions and expectations, and the valuation of health and broader well-being effects of interventions in health care. He is also affiliated to the Erasmus Centre for Choice Modelling (ECMC), the Erasmus Centre for Health Economics Rotterdam (EsCHER) and the Tinbergen Institute. Job has more than 15 years of experience with Q Methodology.