Introduction to Qualitative Methods (513X8)

15 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

This module is designed for all postgraduate students in the social sciences and related professional disciplines. It aims to:

  • introduce you to the nature and characteristics of qualitative social research and its applications in a range of contexts
  • equip you with some key personal and practical skills relevant to successful qualitative research.

The module introduces the variety of methodological positions and research practices associated with qualitative research strategies. Three key research approaches to data collection are explored in more depth. The module includes:

  • a session considering the nature of ethnographic fieldwork and provides critical contexts for its exploration. Participant observation is discussed as a key social science research method
  • a session exploring narratives and life-histories as particular types of qualitative data
  • a session looking at the key data collection method of interviewing. You are set a practical interviewing task on which you report back to the groups. This exercise is used as a starting point to discuss a range of practical and theoretical issues around interviewing
  • a session considering issues of data analysis, representation and writing. In this session, issues of ethics and the politics of research and writing are addressed.


100%: Practical (Workshop)


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 42 hours of contact time and about 108 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.