The course aims to demonstrate how ecological theory, study designs and analyses should be linked, and the course should make students able to plan and conduct empirical, ecological research through all stages of the research processes from formulation of hypotheses to the presentation and interpretation of the results. Simple (e.g. crossed) as well as more advanced (e.g. split-plot, multi-level) experimental and observational designs are presented and compared with respect to issues such as precision, confounding and bias. Statistical aspects of the course focus on statistical estimation of biologically relevant effects and issues of model selection. Statistical methods covered are generalised linear and additive models, and a short introduction to the bootstrap is given. Multivariate analyses (PCA, Correspondence Analysis) are also briefly covered. The course emphasized also the practical aspects through the analyses of real data sets in R. The course is relevant for doctoral students within all field of ecology and evolutionary biology.