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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP5308M Qualitative Research Methods

15 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Professor Kahryn Hughes

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

SLSP5111M Qualitative Research Methods

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module focuses on the distinctive contribution to empirical engagement that qualitative research methods allow. In this module, students will develop an understanding of the generation, management and analysis of qualitative data, as well as the theoretical and epistemological issues informing qualitative research. They will be required to critically engage with questions of sampling, ethics and fieldwork relationships in qualitative research, using qualitative research data, concrete research problems, and considering contemporary social issues through group work and individual projects Assessment is by way of an essay or a practical data analysis project, and can be related directly to the student's social research interests and disciplinary or cross-disciplinary orientations.


On completion of this module, students should have knowledge of different strategies for qualitative research and be skilled in the use of a range of methods for generating qualitative research data (eg interviewing and focus groups, digital research methods; ethnography, observation and visual methods) and have a critical appreciation of the appropriateness of particular methods to different research scenarios.
Students will:
• understand the distinctive contributions and limitations of qualitative research, and have a critical appreciation of debates about the differences or otherwise between qualitative and quantitative research;
• develop a comprehensive understanding of the ethical issues raised through the use of qualitative research methods, and strategies for managing these in fieldwork.
• have a good knowledge of sampling issues in qualitative research;
• have knowledge of a range of sources of 'secondary' qualitative data, including documentary data and qualitative data archives, and a critical appreciation of how they might be used, as well as the wider issues involved in archiving qualitative data;
• understand temporality in research, particularly through the use of qualitative longitudinal methods
• have a good understanding of the range of digital data available, and how qualitative research methods can be used with these data.
• have a critical appreciation of different ways of analysing qualitative data and understand their relationship to different theoretical orientations;
• have an understanding of the distinction between qualitative, participatory, and emancipatory methods;
• develop a critical appreciation of a range of positions on the relationship between theory, epistemology and practice in a qualitative research through an applied focus on key issues for qualitative research such as researcher reflexivity and standpoint;
• the relationship between qualitative sampling, analysis, interpretation and theory generation (including grounded theory and analytic induction);
• and questions of generalisation, validity, reliability, replicability and their alternatives;
• be able to communicate the relevant issues effectively in written form.

Learning outcomes
· Understand the relationship between epistemology, strategies of empirical engagement and theory building as they relate to qualitative research methods
· Be able to apply ethical understanding and insight to a wide range of research contexts and extant research
· Understand the relationship between how sampling decisions frame and shape research, and the findings and research claims they make possible
· Have a good understanding of a range of qualitative research methods and how these may be applied in primary research, with digital data, and with archived data using secondary analysis.
· Understand the complexity of relationships in the research process, and have a developed reflexive understanding of these in broader contextual and historical theories of knowledge production; and how these relationships may change through emancipatory or participatory approaches.
• Understand the key principles of data analysis
• Capabilities for communicating their ideas effectively through in-depth written assignments, including an essay, and through verbal discussion in group and practical work.
• Be able to formulate and present a rigorous and independent discussion on the affordances and limitations of qualitative research, as they relate to empirical engagement, ethical practice, data analysis and researcher reflexivity.


The module uses linked lectures to build a comprehensive understanding of the distinctive theoretical and methodological questions raised through the use of qualitative research methods. Through a weekly research-led lecture/workshop approach, students will be required to concentrate on specific aspects of qualitative research so that, at the conclusion of the module, they will be able to recognise, confront and resolve key questions in qualitative research design, understanding and application. It includes and emphasises wide-ranging research expertise in social research across different disciplines including, but not limited to gender studies, disability studies, race and ethnicity, and enquiry into identity, inequality, and policy.
Issues covered include, but are not limited to:
The relationship between epistemology, methodology and theory building in qualitative research;
How sampling frames research design, findings and applicability;
Ethical principles, problems and strategies in qualitative research and reflexive research engagement;
Strategies for face to face engagement including interviewing and focus groups;
Strategies for observation and ethnography
Strategies for emancipatory and participatory research;
The question of time and temporality in research;
Digital research data and methods;
Secondary analysis and archival research;
Principles of data analysis

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning111.0011.00
Private study hours118.00
Total Contact hours32.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Preparation for lectures and tutorials 78 hours
Preparation for assessment 40 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Attendance and participation in tutorials and formative work.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or Dissertation3000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 21/05/2024


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