Microcredential ekomex: Introduction to Causal Process Tracing


This five-day online course provides you with the theoretical understanding and practical skills to conduct a full Process Tracing study from theory development, through defining a causal mechanism and data-gathering, to drawing inferences.

What Is This Course About?
Process Tracing (PT) is a within-case method that focusses on tracing causal mechanisms—the actual “link” between a trigger and an outcome. This five-day online course introduces you to the essentials of this method, its main underlying assumptions, and its applicability. Taking a hands-on approach, the course develops both the theoretical understanding and the practical skills to set-up and conduct a full-fledged PT-study and addresses causal mechanism, theory development, data-gathering and analysis, and drawing inferences.

Learning Goals
By the end of the class, students will be able

  • to explain to a peer the added value of conducting a PT-study,
  • to design a coherent and practicable PT-study in relation to your own research interests,
  • to develop a strategy to implement and execute that study,
  • to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of process tracing as a method.

Assignments for the Course
The course will build on several smaller, daily assignments in which you are asked to apply the day’s lessons to your own research project and one final, larger take-home paper.


  • 09:00-09:45h: Independent asynchronous learning by students
  • 10:00-10:45h: Synchronous (live) teaching session
  • 11:00-11:45h: Independent learning activity (alone or in groups)
  • 11.45-13:00h: Lunch break
  • 13:00-14:45h: Supervised group work/discussion with instructor
  • 15:00-16:00h: Office hours

Recommended Readings for the Course

  • Beach, Derek, and Rasmus B. Pedersen. 2019. Process-Tracing Methods. Foundations and Guidelines. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Bennett, Andrew, and Jeffrey T. Checkel. 2015. ‘Process Tracing: From Philosophical Roots to Best Practices’. In Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool, eds. Andrew Bennett and Jeffrey T. Checkel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3–37.
  • Goertz, Gary, and James Mahoney. 2012. A Tale of Two Cultures. Qualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
  • Machamer, Peter, Lindley Darden, and Carl F. Craver. 2000. ‘Thinking about Mechanisms’. Philosophy of Science 67(1): 1–25.

Who is Your Instructor?
Hilde van Meegdenburg is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Institute of Political Science, Leiden University. Besides her substantive focus on state foreign policy making, she is a bit of a methodologist in the making. Teaching Process Tracing (PT) methods across Europe since 2016, she is currently co-authoring a book with Patrick A. Mello on Case Study Research Combining Process Tracing and Qualitative Comparative Analysis and is keen on coherently thinking through PT-designs for social scientific research. A recent chapter on PT from her hand can be found here, other work has been published in Cooperation and Conflict, Journal of European Public Policy, and Contemporary Security Policy amongst others. More information can be found on https://hildevanmeegdenburg.com.

Bildungszeit (can be claimed by employees in Baden-Württemberg) 
Anforderungen des Bildungszeitgesetzes Baden-Württemberg sind erfüllt
460 EUR / Early bird 390 EUR / Please note: you will gain access to our learning management system Moodle only after having paid your course fee
ECTS Credits 
Contact for Questions 
26.02.2024 (All day)
27.02.2024 (All day)
28.02.2024 (All day)
29.02.2024 (All day)
01.03.2024 (All day)
5 study days
No prior knowledge is required other than basic knowledge of empirical research design, such as what is a case, what is a variable.