OverviewThis 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.
This module appears in:
Contact hours: 22 hours in total
11 hours of lectures
11 hours of seminars
Method of assessment
Assessment will comprise of two elements.
Element One: The students can choose from a number of different tasks including: a depth interview; an oral history interview; design of a case study; conducting a focus group; a textual analysis; deployment of a visual method. The activity will be written up and critically assessed. It is worth 50% of their final mark.
Element Two: A 2,500-word essay on a topic covered in the module. It is worth 50% of their final mark.
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:
International Journal of Qualitative Methods
Forum: Qualitative Social Research
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:
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
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.
At the end of this module successful students will:
• Be informed about what kinds of qualitative data in social sciences can be collected and analysed.
• Be able to critically analyse the philosophical foundations of qualitative data approaches to social science research;
• Assess to a level appropriate with postgraduate study the key advantages and disadvantages to various types of qualitative research methods.
• Be able to employ such methods within a practical research context to a postgraduate level.
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).