Literature Study and Seminar

Course code:
Ac. Year (September)
Language of tuition:
Faculteit der Exacte Wetenschappen
prof. dr. P. Lago
prof. dr. P. Lago
Teaching method(s):

Course objective

After taking this course, students will be able to:
- design a sound desk research based on scientific literature and
identify the relevant literature related to the target research; or
perform an in-depth study of a selected set of literature sources;
- criticize, analyze, and discuss scientific literature;
- reflect on the in-depth knowledge gained during the course on the
selected literature study topic.

Course content

The course consists of carrying out a literature study on a topic chosen
in agreement with the selected tutor.

The ‘theoretical preparation’ of the course consists of studying the
provided material on literature study design, where the student learns
how to go from a research question to a well-structured analysis of the
literature. This step can be carried out by translating the research
question into a sound search query, identifying adequate on-line
literature search engines, and performing a motivated selection of the
literature for further analysis; or alternatively by selecting, together
with the tutor, a set of relevant literature and performing an in-depth

The actual literature study starts with the 'exploration phase' in which
the student must identify a topic of interest or a course particularly
appreciated. He or she will then contact the person in charge of the
identified research area/course and discuss with him/her the possibility
to carry out a literature study under his/her supervision.

In general, the literature study will be either predominantly broad,
leading to a literature survey on the selected theme, or deep, carving
out the intricacies of a specific topic. The outcome of the literature
study is a final report, which must include: study design; overview of
selected literature; analysis of the literature; discussion and
conclusions. At the end of this phase, the student gives one final
presentation to the research group of the tutor. This presentation
includes research questions, study design, study execution, and
discussion of analysis.

Form of tuition

Individual assignment.

Type of assessment

Final report (V). Final presentation (pre).

Grading criteria: quality of study design; rationale for literature
selection (if applicable); quality of results (quality of writing,
scientific quality of the analysis, discussion of the findings,
reflection in the drawn conclusions, clear answer to main research
question); quality of technical report (style, clarity, organization);
correctness and completeness of references and citations; final
presentation to the research group where he/she carries out the
literature study.

Course reading

Material on literature study design is online at

Target audience



The student should look for a tutor in the area he or she would like to
carry out the literature study. See online material (Course reading) for
further information. Tutors can be chosen among the staff members of the
CS Department.

© Copyright VU University Amsterdam
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