Qualitative Social Research Methods - SO546

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
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5 15 (7.5) DR E Sanders-McDonagh


This module is ONLY for students on the Cultural Studies programmes or Q-Step Minor degrees in SSPSSR (Criminology with Quantitative Research, Social Policy with Quantitative Research, Sociology with Quantitative Research) or other degrees where students would otherwise be required to take SO602, but have already done an introductory module to quantitative social science research (to the level of regression)





The module will cover the following topics and issues:

1. The impact of social research upon both social theory and policy-making.
2. The primary epistemological and ontological debates and how these affect the research question, method and design.
3. The steps in designing a qualitative research project and criteria for assessing its quality as applied to positivist as well critical theorists approaches
Ethical considerations in social research, the main problems with establishing valid samples and how different sampling approaches can undermine the validity of the research findings.
4. The variety of qualitative research techniques available to social scientists and their relative advantages and disadvantages in understanding the social world. These include interviewing, visual, comparative/historical, and discourse analytic approaches.


Contact hours

150 hours (of which 22 are contact hours in the form of lectures and seminars. Students are also expected to spend at least 128 hours on private study)

Method of assessment

The module is assessed by 100% coursework:
1. A 2500 word qualitative individual research proposal (40%)
2. A 2500 word qualitative individual research project (50%)
3. A mark based on in class contribution in seminars (10%)

Indicative reading

Babbie, E. (2005) The Basics of Social Research Intl Edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Bryman, A. (2015) Social Research Methods, 5th edition, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Hesse-Biber, S.N. and Leavy, P. (2006) The Practice of Qualitative Research, London: Sage.
Abbott, A. (2003). Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for the Social Sciences. New York: W.W. Norton.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the course students will be able to:

1. Critically judge and evaluate the validity of qualitative research evidence.
2. Identify a range of different qualitative research strategies and methods, and their respective advantages and disadvantages, as well as their philosophical underpinnings.
3. Initiate research questions.
4. Conduct preliminary qualitative empirical research.

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