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Unit information: Qualitative Research Methods in 2015/16

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Unit name Qualitative Research Methods
Unit code SPOLD1004
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Cameron
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit includes an overall appreciation of qualitative methods of research including its underlying philosophies before moving onto more detailed aspects: choosing methods and research design; qualitative sampling and topic guide design; face-to-face interviewing and focus groups; analysing and making sense of qualitative data. This unit will introduce contemporary critiques of positivist research methodologies and a range of qualitative research methods, including their strengths and weaknesses. The unit will allow students the opportunity to develop their practical research skills using qualitative methods and better understand the role that qualitative data can play in informing policy.

Intended learning outcomes

Module specific skills • Develop a philosophical appreciation of the underpinnings of qualitative research methods. • A critical understanding of and the ability to apply to their own work, the appropriate uses, strengths and weaknesses of qualitative methods. • Ability to evaluate the research practice, data and interpretations of others. • Sensitivity to ethical, political and value concerns in qualitative research. • Appreciation of a reflexive approach to social science research. • Demonstrate basic skills in the use of qualitative research techniques Discipline specific skills • Develop an appreciation of the philosophical underpinning of qualitative approaches in relation to the discipline • Understand how qualitative research can address specific challenges within a disciplinary context • Demonstrate and apply a critical understanding of qualitative methods used in the discipline. • Understand how qualitative methods are used in the discipline and gain an overview of some current qualitative research examples within the discipline • Develop an understanding of discipline-specific ethical, political and value issues, related to qualitative research Personal and key skills • Critical analysis • Ability to reflect on personal/ethical issues raised in qualitative research. • Team work Presentation skills Practical skills in qualitative research methods

Teaching details

The unit combines lectures, practical exercises in small gruops and seminar discussions.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: provided through group exercises/ presentations.

Summatie assessment. A written assignment of 4,000.

Reading and References

  • Bryman, A. (2012) Social Research Methods [third edition] Oxford University Press.
  • Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative Researching. London & Thousand Oaks, California, Sage.
  • Ritchie, J. et al (2014) . Qualitative Research Practice. London, Sage.
  • Silverman, D. (2011) Interpreting Qualitative Data [third edition] London: Sage Publications.
  • Flick, U. (2009) An Introduction to Qualitative Research. London: Sage.
  • Silverman, D. (2010) Doing Qualitative Research [third edition] Sage Publications.

The Library provides access to a number of interdisciplinary specialist journals, including: Qualitative Research, Qualitative Inquiry and Forum Qualitative Social Research.