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2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP5520M Qualitative Research Methods

15 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Professor Kahryn Hughes

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

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 theoretical and epistemological issues shaping qualitative research approaches, with consideration of how we may produce, manage and analyse qualitative data. Students will be required to critically engage with questions of sampling, ethics and fieldwork relationships in qualitative research, using qualitative research data, concrete research problems. They will be encouraged to understand the histories of qualitative research methods and the language of epistemology, including how such histories foreground certain ways of knowing while simultaneously marginalising others.


On completion of this module, students should have knowledge of different strategies for qualitative research and understand a range of methods for generating qualitative research data (eg interviewing and focus groups, digital research methods; ethnography, observation and visual methods).

They will 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 reusing archived qualitative research 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, including ethnographic 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 with a consideration of indigenous methods;

• the relationship between qualitative sampling, analysis, interpretation and theory generation;

• and be able to critically engage with the language of generalisation, validity, reliability, replicability and their alternatives;

• be able to communicate the relevant issues effectively in written form.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between epistemology, strategies of empirical engagement and theory building as they relate to qualitative research methods
2. Apply ethical understanding and insight to a wide range of research contexts and extant research
3. Demonstrate how the relationship between how sampling decisions frame and shape research, and the findings and research claims they make possible
4. Demonstrate an 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.
5. Demonstrate a reflexive understanding of the broader contextual and historical theories of knowledge production; and how research-based relationships may or may not change through emancipatory or participatory approaches.
6. Communicate ideas effectively through in-depth written assignments, including an essay, and through verbal discussion in group and practical work.
7. 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 epistemological reflexivity.

Skills learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:
1. Apply critical thinking skills to a range of social issues
2. Employ ethical practices in the use of multiple academic sources to support your understanding of own work
3. Communicate complex information, including concepts, verbally and in written form


Details of the syllabus will be provided on the Minerva organisation (or equivalent) for the module

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours128.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive formative feedback regarding their assignment during their attendance and participation in tutorials.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
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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