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Social Research Methods: Process Tracing Methods in Practice

The registrations for this course are closed. Applying for this course is not longer possible.

Date: 27 June - 1 July
Early bird fee: €518 or €431(deadline 1 April 2022)
Regular fee: €575
Application deadline: 1 May 2022


Course Description

This course is offered as part of the Summer School in Social Research Methods, which is developed and coordinated by MethodsNET in collaboration with the Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University. MethodsNET is a global methods excellence network that offers world class training in social research methods, through its top instructors from renowned universities worldwide. This course of the Summer School in Social Research Methods has a unique approach: the morning is fully dedicated to the course topics mentioned in the course description. In the afternoon, you can choose to take part in a rich set of extra optional training activities to broaden or deepen your skills and knowledge.

Process tracing is a research method designed to learn how things work in real-world cases. Increasingly used across the social sciences and in applied policy evaluation, process tracing involves unpacking causal processes as they play out within cases and tracing them empirically, enabling within-case causal inferences about the processes that link causes and outcomes together.

The aim of this five-day course is to provide participants with a hands-on understanding of the core elements of process tracing as a distinct social science case study method and how it can be used in your own research. The three core components of process tracing are explored during the week, using a combination of published examples and your own research. Participants are encouraged to use their own research in two short daily exercises to explore how Process Tracing methods can improve your own design.

The course starts by exploring the theory-side of what we are actually 'tracing' (i.e. theorized causal processes or mechanisms), and how we can theorize better causal process theories that both shed light on the generative processes whereby causes contribute to produce outcomes, while at the same time not being excessively complex.

Days 3 and 4 focus on how causal processes can be traced empirically using 'mechanistic evidence’, using published examples and your own work to practice evaluating what empirical material can act as evidence of.

The final session deals with case selection and how process tracing can be combined with other methods, focusing on the combination of QCA and PT. The sessions will combine lectures and discussions with small group work designed to better understand the method.

Course Leader

Derek BeachProfessorDepartment of Political Science
University of Aarhus

Learning Outcomes

After this course you are able to:

  • Employ process tracing designs in your own research.
  • Develop better causal process theories.
  • Engage in systematic evidence evaluation of how processes work in actual cases.
  • Select appropriate cases and design a generalization strategy.

Level of participant

  • Master
  • PhD
  • Post-doc
  • Professional

The course is designed for

This PhD level course is open to all researchers aiming at bringing their research to the next level. It is particularly designed for those who are interested in using process tracing designs in their own research, and have some experience in applying the method.

Admission Requirements

The course is designed for participants who have an understanding of the fundamentals of process tracing designs (e.g. from the introductory week 1 course), and are interested in using the design in their own research.

Admission Documents



27 June - 1 July 2022

Application Deadline

1 May 2022

Course Fee


Early Bird Discounts

  • 10% early bird discount for all applicants
  • 25% discount early bird discount for:
    • students and PhD candidates from partner universities and Radboud University
    • alumni of Radboud Summer School and Radboud University

Mode of study

This course will be offered on campus.

Number of ECTS credits

2 ECTS credits, with the possibility of an extra 1-3 ECTS credits depending on additional course work and assignments handed in during or after the summer school (for a possible total of up to 5 ECTS). For more information, visit this page.