Qualitative Research Methods

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Methodology
  • Application code SS-ME305
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

The purpose of this course is to equip participants with the skills to be able to sensitively and critically design, carry out, report, read, and evaluate qualitative research projects.

It is taught by qualitative research experts who have experience of using the methods they teach. It covers the full cycle of a qualitative research project: from design, to data collection, analysis, reporting and dissemination. The course has the dual aims of equipping students with conceptual understandings of current academic debates regarding different methods, and the practical skills to put those methods into practice.

This course is ideal for advanced undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as professionals with an interest in using qualitative methods to undertake social research.

Session: Three
Dates: 3 August – 21 August 2020
Lecturers: Dr Kate Summers, Dr Audrey AlejandroDr Alasdair JonesDr Sonja Marzi and Dr Ellen Watts

Programme details

Key facts

Level: 300 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One presentation and one 2000 word condensed research project.

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment


The course assumes little or no knowledge of qualitative methods. There are no formal prerequisites, however applicants should be at advanced undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Programme structure

This course presents the fundamentals of qualitative research methods. It covers the classic sources of qualitative data: interviews, focus groups, participant observation and documentary research. It also discusses the challenges and opportunities of new media including visual images and internet research. The two most widely used methods of analysis are covered: thematic analysis and discourse analysis. In addition, topics including quality indicators, research design, research tools, ethics, writing up and disseminating research are also addressed.

The format of the course is a combination of lectures and seminars, with an emphasis on participatory and practical learning. Lectures are interactive and introduce the key conceptual issues of each method, as well as giving practical guidance. Lectures also incorporate critical discussion of sample papers from the peer-reviewed literature, developing students’ skills in critically evaluating reports of qualitative research. Seminars provide hands-on experience of the core methods. 

Topics covered include:

  • Qualitative research design
  • Formulating qualitative research questions
  • Selecting & evaluating documents
  • Participant observation
  • Interviewing
  • Focus groups
  • Visual & digital/online data
  • Analysing visual data
  • Thematic analysis
  • Identifying & organising themes
  • Discourse analysis
  • Software and other research tools
  • Writing up qualitative research
  • Evaluating and disseminating qualitative research

Course outcomes

This course will provide students with:

  • a solid understanding of the core methods of qualitative data collection and analysis
  • critical skills in interpreting and evaluating reports of qualitative studies
  • experience in putting qualitative skills into practice
  • realistic and practical teaching from established researchers who put these tools to use in their ongoing research projects 


LSE’s Department of Methodology is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in research and teaching in the area of social science research methodology. The Department coordinates and provides a focus for methodological activities at the School, in particular in the areas of graduate student (and staff) training and of methodological research.

Through its graduate programmes, and the Department's provision of courses for research students from all parts of the School, the aim is to make the School the pre-eminent centre for methodological training in the social sciences.

On this three week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s methodology faculty.

Reading materials

  • Seale, C., Gobo, G., Gubrium, J.F. & Silverman, D. (2004). Qualitative research practice. London: Sage.
  • Bauer, M.W. & Gaskell, G. (2000) Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound, London: Sage.
  • Flick, U. (2009) An Introduction to Qualitative Research, London: Sage. 

 *A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice


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