SO492      Half Unit
Qualitative Social Research Methods

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Rebecca Elliott


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Culture and Society. This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Cities Programme, MPhil/PhD in Sociology, MSc in Economy, Risk and Society , MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course introduces students to the theory and practice of qualitative research methods in sociology. The seminars address issues of research design, data collection and analysis in relation to qualitative research methods. We will focus largely on ethnography and in-depth interviewing but will cover archival, online, and visual methods, as well. Taking these methods together, we will build toward an understanding of best practice in qualitative inquiry. Based on the principle that doing is one of the best means of learning, this course is highly interactive and requires ‘hands-on’ participation in a series of practical exercises and project work throughout the term. A syllabus detailing course objectives, course style, readings, teaching arrangements and student assessment will be distributed at the beginning of the term.


30 hours of workshops in the MT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students must write a 1,000 word book review of a qualitative research study.

Indicative reading

• Luker, K. 2008. Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-Glut. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

• Small, M. 2009. ‘How Many Cases Do I Need? On the Science and Logic of Case Selection in Field-Based Research.’ Ethnography 10: 5-38.

• Lamont, M. and A. Swidler. 2014. ‘Methodological Pluralism and the Possibilities and Limits of Interviewing.’ Qualitative Sociology 37(2): 153-171.

• Jerolmack, C. and S. Khan. 2014. ‘Talk is Cheap: Ethnography and the Attitudinal Fallacy.’ Sociological Methods & Research 43(2): 178-209.

• Weiss, R.S. 1994. Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies.

• Emerson, R.M., R.I. Fretz, and L.L. Shaw. 2011. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (2nd edition). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

• Stanley, L. 2017. The Archive Project: Archival Research in the Social Sciences, edited by Niamh Moore, Andrea Salter, Liz Stanley, and Maria Tamboukou.

• Seale, C. 1999. The Quality of Qualitative Research. Chapter 11, ‘Reflexivity and Writing,’ pp. 159-177.

• Burawoy, M. 1998. ‘The Extended Case Method.’ Sociological Theory 16:4-33.

• Snow, D.A., C. Morrill, and L. Anderson. 2003. ‘Elaborating Analytic Ethnography: Linking Fieldwork and Theoretical Development.’ Ethnography 4: 271-290.


Other (90%) in the LT.
Other (10%) in the MT.

Group presentation (10%) in Week 11 of MT.

Individual qualitative research report (90%) in the LT.

The individual qualitative research report is due Wednesday Week 5 of LT. Two hard copies of the individual research report with submission sheets attached to each to be handed in to the main administration office STC.S116, no later than 16.30 on the day of submission. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18.00 on the same day.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2017/18: 73

Average class size 2017/18: 72

Controlled access 2017/18: No

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