SO492      Half Unit
Qualitative Social Research Methods

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jana Melkumova-Reynolds STC S208


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 City Design and Social Science, MSc in Economy 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.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Students who have this course as a core course are guaranteed a place. Other than for students for whom the course is a core course, places are allocated based on a written statement, with priority given students on the MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Economy and Society, MSc in Political Sociology, MSc in Sociology, MPhil/PhD in Cities Programme and MPhil/PhD in Sociology. As demand is typically high, this may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.

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, including ethnography, in-depth interviewing, and textual analysis. 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.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the AT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in AT 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

  • Mason, J., & Dale, A. (Eds.) (2011). Understanding social research: Thinking creatively about method. SAGE Publications
  • Luker, Kristin. Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-Glut, Harvard University Press, 2008. Law, J. (2007).  Making a mess with method1. SAGE Publications
  • 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.
  • Hall, Stuart. Writings on Media: History of the Present. Edited by Charlotte Brunsdon. Duke University Press, 2021.
  • Emerson, R.M., R.I. Fretz, and L.L. Shaw. 2011. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (2nd edition). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Seale, C. 1999. The Quality of Qualitative Research. Chapter 11, ‘Reflexivity and Writing,’ pp. 159-177.
  • Keller, R. (2013). Doing discourse research. SAGE Publications
  • Rose, Gillian, Dr. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials, SAGE Publications, 2001.
  • Pink, S. (2015). Situating sensory ethnography. SAGE Publications


Research report (100%) in the WT.

The assessment consists of an individual qualitative research report in the WT.

An electronic copy of the assessed report, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on Wednesday Week 5 of WT.

Attendance at all classes and submission of all set coursework is required.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2022/23: 77

Average class size 2022/23: 26

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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