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Unit information: Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences in 2021/22

Unit name Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences
Unit code EDUCM0053
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Grant
Open unit status Not open

Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences



School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit builds on the Introduction to Qualitative Research unit and is designed for those students planning to use qualitative research as the basis for their PhD study in order to support them to develop and deepen their proposed research designs.

The Unit will specifically address the epistemological, methodological, ethical and analysis challenges that characterise qualitative research design and support students to explore these tensions in relation to their own research project. The unit will enable students to locate different qualitative methodologies in the wider context of the broad qualitative research tradition and encouraged to explore emerging and novel contemporary traditions of qualitative inquiry. Students will present their current research designs to the group and through group discussion and tutor feedback, supported to challenge and deepen their ideas for their proposals. They will be supported to explore the different strategic choices that might be made about methods and approach at each point, and to explore some of the tensions and difficulties that these methods might entail. To that end, much of the unit will be responsive to the specific qualitative approaches that the student cohort is selecting each year. In each case, the unit will aim:

1. to engage students in the historic, social and contemporary debates that frame the purpose, value and methods of qualitative inquiry

2. to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between theory and practice in research design.

3. to enable students to examine and explore the practical challenges of qualitative work in practice, in particular working with partners and the messiness of research in the field.

4. to extend students understanding of the issues involved in the analysis and writing up of qualitative data sets

5. to support students to further develop and strengthen their own qualitative research designs.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate that they are able to:

1. show awareness of a range of selected qualitative data collection and analysis methods, and how

they are located in debates about the trustworthiness, values and purposes of qualitative inquiry

2. critically evaluate and reflect on the methodological and practical challenges and tensions in their

selected approach to qualitative inquiry

3. articulate the epistemological underpinnings of selected approaches to qualitative research


4. apply and engage with one or more approaches to qualitative data analysis

5. critique empirical studies with regards to both theoretical and methodological analysis

Teaching Information

Teaching will adopt a blended approach involving a mix of online asynchronous and synchronous lectures, reading, group work and activities provided online.

Assessment Information

Formative assessment

Individual poster presentations reflecting on approaches to qualitative data collection and analysis. (ILO 1-5)

Summative assessment

4,000 word essay (100%) (ILO 1-5)

A written assignment critically discussing the theory and practice of producing and analysing qualitative research data using one or more selected qualitative techniques. You will conduct a small-scale piece of data collection, try out one or more analytic approaches, and critically reflect on the process and outcomes.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EDUCM0053).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.