Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)Methodology courses and philosophy of science

Course information

ECTS: 2.5 
Number of sessions: 2
Hours per session: 4
Entry level: Advanced
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • €440,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


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

Session 1
April 12 (Thursday) 2018
Mandeville building (directions) T17-01

Session 2
April 19 (Thursday) 2018
Sanders building (directions) S1-08


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, designed for people who have no or limited experience with QCA. There are two sessions consisting of workshops with mini-lectures and practical training directly applied to participant work, specifically during the second course session. 

After 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 low and medium number of cases (e.g., 20 or 30), but can also be applied to larger samples. 

Session descriptions

Session 1:
Background of QCA and the first research phase (calibration)

  • Historical development of QCA
  • Perspective on causation in QCA
  • Designing your research and the different research phases in QCA
  • Calibration and the truth table
  • NOTE: Please bring a laptop, fully charged

    Session 2:
    The second research phase (minimization) and write-up

    • Minimization for systematic cross-case comparison with QCA software
    • Optimizing the truth table
    • Interpreting and reporting formal output
    • Concrete exercise in analysis
    • NOTE: Please bring a laptop, fully charged

    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.