MY421      Half Unit
Qualitative Research Methods

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Flora Cornish COL8.09 and Dr Jennifer Tarr COL8.06


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Social Research Methods. This course is available on the MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in Comparative Politics (Research), MSc in Conflict Studies and MSc in Gender (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course presents the fundamentals of qualitative research methods. It prepares students to design, carry out, report, read and evaluate qualitative research projects. Students learn how to collect data using methods including interviewing, focus groups, participant observation, and documentary and historical work. The challenges and opportunities of new media including visual images and Internet research are discussed. We then cover analysis, using thematic, content, discourse, and semiotic analysis. Issues of research design, quality indicators, epistemology and ethics are addressed. The course has the dual aims of equipping students with both conceptual understandings of current academic debates regarding qualitative methods, and the practical skills to put those methods into practice.


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours and 30 minutes of workshops in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 10 hours and 30 minutes of workshops in the LT.

The course runs twice per year: in MT (MY421M) and again in LT (MY421L). 

Formative coursework

All students are required to upload one interview transcript OR one focus group transcript, plus a topic guide and one paragraph of reflections, to Moodle by Week 6 of term. Students will also be required to read and comment on transcripts submitted by others. Feedback will be provided through these discussions and via comments from the seminar leader, and the collected transcripts will provide the material for practising data analysis later in the term.

Indicative reading

M Bauer & G Gaskell, (2000) Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound, London: Sage, U Flick, (2009) An Introduction to Qualitative Research, 4th edition, London: Sage. C Seale, G Gobo, JF Gubrium, & D Silverman, (2004). Qualitative Research Practice. London: Sage. Please Note: No single publication covers the whole content of the course.


Project (100%, 4500 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 7.6
Merit 70.9
Pass 17.7
Fail 3.8

Teachers' comment

This course, which provides a strong grounding in the core qualitative research methods, is compulsory for some students. Among students who are committed to learning about qualitative methods, the course evaluates well. Over the last 3 years, the course has been progressively redesigned and improved by an energetic and committed team, with evaluations improving accordingly.

Key facts

Department: Methodology

Total students 2012/13: 1

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 99%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)