BARN8007 - Participatory Action Research and Knowledge Production


New from the academic year 2023/2024

Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Paper
Grade: Passed / Not Passed

Evaluation Weighting Duration Grade deviation Examination aids
Paper 100/100

Course content

This course examines the genesis, epistemological foundations and principles of participatory action research and its application for transformative knowledge production. Anchored in interdisciplinary debates (e.g., childhood studies, development studies, education, geography, health research); the course offers critical insights into the theoretical, methodological, societal and ethical imperatives of collaborative participatory research with potentials for empowerment of participants. Through a variety of learning approaches, course participants will acquire knowledge on the theories and practices of participatory action research in diverse social, cultural, community, and institutional settings. The course’s starting point is the methodological conviction that the researcher is a committed participant and learner in all stages of the research process. Valuing participation, the topic/subject/method of research originates from the research participants; and the problem is defined and analyzed by them so that the knowledge created contributes to the radical redefinition of social reality and improvement of their lives. The course will be grounded in idea(l)s of empowerment, community engagement, activism, social justice, participation, and advocacy. It will be relevant for doctoral candidates and early career researchers who will work with disadvantaged/powerless/marginalized/vulnerable populations of different generations, gender, cultural and social backgrounds.

Learning outcome

By the end of the course the student has achieved the following learning outcomes:


  • Has in-depth understanding of the principles of participatory action research and their application in research in a variety of social, cultural, spatial and institutional contexts.
  • Is familiar with action-oriented research methods and how their applications connect to broader structures of economics, institutions, cultures within which knowledge is situated
  • Has critical insight into the potentials and limits of participatory action research and how to conduct it in ways that both empower research subjects and enhance social transformation
  • Can appraise the underlying debates on how power, politics, and ethics play out in collaborative knowledge production.


  • Can write, design, carry out, implement and assess participatory action research projects
  • Can resolve social, ethical, practical dilemmas that emerge when undertaking participatory action research in a variety of contexts
  • Can deploy different formats and strategies of making research outcomes available to participants and those working in fields of practice, policy, and advocacy

General competence

  • Able to make the connection between epistemology, methodology, and methods
  • Has insights into the processes, ethics, and politics of knowledge production using participatory approaches

Learning methods and activities

The course involves interactive lectures, discussion (both plenary and short breakaway sessions), and workgroups resulting in presentations, workshops (including debates, videos/film), and active use of relevant Internet sites. In addition to course readings, participants will identify and engage with relevant readings connected to their specific research. To ease the study load of reading, the required readings will be covered by distributing the task of reading for presentation summaries and comments in class.

The course is taught in two block meetings, set apart by eight weeks. The first meeting will last for three days involving lectures (ca 12 hours), interactive workshops, and discussions. The second meeting will be two-days seminar based where students present and discuss their papers. During the intervening period, students undertake self-study/reading/individual work. The course is offered when teaching resources are available and can be changed or canceled if less than 5 Ph.D. candidates are registered. Maximum: 10 Ph.D. candidates.

Compulsory assignments

  • Attending lectures is compulsory

Further on evaluation


Individual paper (10-12 pages) within the remit of the course content and related to the course literature.


Compulsory activities

Participation in class and course activities. 

Required previous knowledge

Master's degree in social sciences, educational sciences, humanities or equivalent.

PhD students are prioritized for admission.

Maximum: 12 PhD candidates.

The number of places is limited and the first-com principle applies

A minimum of 5 registered PhD candidates is required for the course to be held.

Course materials

Course materials

Compendium ca 600 pages plus about 200 pages of self-selected literature.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  10.0 SP
Study level: Doctoral degree level


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  AUTUMN 2023

Language of instruction: English

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Childhood Studies
  • Inter-disciplinary child research
  • Social Sciences
Contact information
Course coordinator:

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Education and Lifelong Learning


Examination arrangement: Paper

Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Autumn ORD Paper 100/100 INSPERA
Room Building Number of candidates
Spring ORD Paper 100/100 INSPERA
Room Building Number of candidates
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

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