Qualitative Research - SO817

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
(version 4)
Spring 7 20 (10) DR D Lyon checkmark-circle


This module focuses on the theory and practice of qualitative research. It explores the various aspects of using and collecting qualitative data. The aim of the module is to illustrate a range of practical techniques while considering related problems of evidence and inference in qualitative analyses.

Students will be versed in a range of techniques and will have the opportunity to practice some of them, this includes:

• the theory and practice of interviewing and different varieties of interview;
• focus groups;
• oral history;
• case study methods;
• ethnographic theory and method;
• action research;
• critical discourse analysis;
• narrative analysis;
• visual methods.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 22 hours in total
11 hours of lectures
11 hours of seminars



Method of assessment

This module is assessed on the basis of 100% coursework. Each assessment should be 2500-3000 words excluding bibliography and any appendices.

Assignment 1: (Interviewing). For this assignment you should design, conduct, transcribe and analyse a semi-structured interview with a co-student or someone else in your social circle about a subject of your choice. It is worth 50% of the final mark.

Assignment 2: For this assignment you should conduct a fieldwork session in a setting of your choice, for example, a workplace or a leisure space, with some specific research questions in mind. It is worth 50% of their final mark.

See Moodle for further details and instructions about the assignments.

Indicative reading

There is no single 'course text' for this module, but understanding is built up by drawing on a range of resources, including both key book chapters and journal articles. A set of readings are suggested for each topic (see outline on web) but you are strongly encouraged to seek out further relevant material for yourself.

The Templeman library has a wide selection of journals which are relevant to this module. You can access articles via the e-journal system. In addition to the articles identified in the reading list, you are strongly encouraged to browse through journals and to use these sources more generally for seminar preparation and the two coursework assessments. Relevant journals for this course include:

Qualitative Research
International Journal of Qualitative Methods
Forum: Qualitative Social Research
Oral History
Discourse and Society
International Yearbook of Oral History and Life Stories
International Journal of Social Research Methodology

International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being

It is also worthwhile keeping an eye on the ESRC's National Centre for Research Methods at: http://www.ncrm.ac.uk/. It is a great source for articles and news about training opportunities and events.

Bryman, A. (2004) Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press.
May, T. (2001) Social Research, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Silverman, D. (2004) Qualitative Research. Theory, Method and Practice, Sage.
Hesse-Bibber, S. N. & Leavy, P. (2005) Approaches to Qualitative Research; Sage.
Hesse-Bibber, S. N. & Leavy, P. (2006) The Practice of Qualitative Research; Sage.
Plummer, K. (2005) Documents of life 2: An invitation to a critical humanism, Sage.
Perks, R. & Thomson, A. (eds.) (1998) The Oral History Reader, Routledge.
Hammersley, M (1990) Reading Ethnographic Research: A Critical Guide, Longman
Miles, M and Huberman, M (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded
Sourcebook, Sage.
Reason, P. and Bradbury, H. (eds.) (2001) Handbook of action research:: participative inquiry and practice. Sage.
Mckee, A. (2003) Textual Analysis: A beginners guide, Sage.
Riessman, C. K. (1993). Narrative analysis, Sage.
Barnard, M. (2001) Approaches to understanding visual culture, Palgrave.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this module, students will be able to:

• Identify different epistemological approaches used within social science and assess their strengths and weaknesses.
• Assess the generic strengths/weaknesses of qualitative methods as compared with other methodologies in social science.
• Understand some widely-used techniques of qualitative data collection and analysis in the social sciences, know when it is appropriate to use them and be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses.
• Evaluate and criticise qualitative analyses they encounter in the literature in their field.
• Deploy a range of qualitative techniques effectively.
• Present their research results in a form acceptable for publication.

Key Skills:
On successful completion of this module, students will be able to show:

• Demonstrate skills commensurate with postgraduate study in presentation and debate, both verbal and written, and in utilization of research and empirical data (in relation to Key Skills 1 and 4);
• An ability to synthesis complex theoretical items of knowledge from different schools and disciplines of enquiry (in relation to Key Skills 6);
• An ability to gather library and web-based resources appropriate for postgraduate study; make critical judgments about their merits and use the available evidence to construct a developed argument to be presented orally or in writing (in relation to Key Skills 1, 3 and 6);
• An ability to use practical resources to obtain qualitative data for use in research (in relation to Key Skills 2 and 3).


This is a compulsory module for the MA in Methods of Social Research, Faculty Research Training Programme.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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