Qualitative comparative analysis (QCA)

Methodology courses and philosophy of science

Course information

ECTS: 2.5 
Number of sessions: MOOC and 2 offline sessions
Hours per session: 4
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • €475,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


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

Session 1
April 11 (Thursday) 2019
Location will be announced soon

Session 2
April 18 (Thursday) 2019
Location will be announced soon


Need to analyse causation across cases and not sure how? Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is an alternative to conventional statistical methods. The method can be used in qualitative research to analyse how causes and outcomes in multiple cases relate to each other. The method is suitable for analyses of a limited number of cases, but it can also be applied to large samples. 

QCA, introduced by Charles Ragin in the 1980s and developed further since, is gaining prominence in various social sciences, including political science, economics and business, management, pedagogical sciences, health sciences, sociology, and environmental sciences.

Aims and working method

This is an introductory course. It is designed for people who have no or limited experience with QCA. Participants will first have to follow (individually) our Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Coursera.org. The MOOC is mandatory and contains about 2 hours of videos that discuss the methodological foundations of QCA as well as how to conduct the method. After this, participants will meet offline to discuss questions and do exercises.After the course, participants will know how:

After completion of the course, participants will know how:

  • QCA has historically developed and in which academic context;
  • a QCA study can be designed and under which conditions;
  • to conduct a QCA method with the use of software;
  • to report the results.


QCA is particularly useful for comparative studies with relatively small numbers of cases (e.g., 10-100 cases), but can also be applied to larger samples. 

Session descriptions


  • Historical development and the research field of QCA;
  • Perspective on causation in QCA;
  • Designing your research;
  • The different research phases in QCA;
  • Conducting QCA and the use of software;
  • Interpreting and reporting formal output.

Session 1

  • Discussion of questions following from the MOOC
  • Exercises in doing QCA
  • Bring a laptop with you (fully charged)

Session 2

  • Peer-review of your own report
  • Reflection on the pros and cons of QCA

About the instructor

Dr. Fadi Hirzalla is the Graduate School senior lecturer and methodology consultant. He specialises in quantitative and qualitative methods and methodology, next to his substantive interests in citizenship and new media, with a particular focus on intercultural relations and young people. Prior to joining the Graduate School, he worked at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University.