The University of Southampton

HMPR2006 Qualitative Research - When numbers will not do!

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide a comprehensive introduction to the key terms and concepts that underpin qualitative research design and analysis. The module will equip you with a practical understanding of some of most widely used qualitative methods used in health care related research (such as interviews, focus groups, observation and documentary research) and will provide the opportunity to analyse textual data. This module builds on Level 1 modules “Doing research in Health Care: Literature Review” and “On the Social Science of Health Care”, drawing on literature review skills and your knowledge of the interactions of theories, methods and research. This module is linked to the level 2 module “Doing Research in Healthcare: Design” providing an understanding of doing ethnographic research in health care settings. This module, which provides a practical understanding of qualitative research is a foundation for level 3 modules “Research Project”, “Analysing complexity: combining research methods to design and evaluate innovation in Health Services” and “Applied Healthcare Research in Policy and Practice”.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe and evaluate a range of qualitative techniques utilised in healthcare research
  • Formulate an appropriate research question and use an appropriate qualitative method to address that question
  • Critically appraise the credibility, dependability and transferability of qualitative methods
  • Identify the ethical implications of specific qualitative research strategies
  • Demonstrate an ability to collect and prepare qualitative data
  • Use a computer-assisted method of qualitative data analysis to analyse qualitative data.
  • Present an account of using a research method and analysis


The module will introduce the defining characteristics of qualitative research, its philosophical foundations and what it can contribute to understanding health care. A range of qualitative data collection methods will be covered and these sessions will include discussion of the credibility, dependability and transferability of qualitative research, the advantages and disadvantages of different methods, sampling, and the practical and ethical issues in using qualitative research methods in healthcare. The module will also cover data analysis and includes a practical workshop using qualitative data analysis software (NVivo). The module will draw on examples of qualitative research from the UK and international literature. 1. Philosophical foundations / theory underpinning qualitative approaches 2. Formulating healthcare research questions that are appropriate to qualitative inquiry 3. Qualitative interviewing 4. Focus groups 5. Observation and visual methods 6. Documentary analysis 7. Assessing credibility, dependability and transferability of qualitative methods 8. Sampling, recruitment and practical considerations in conducting qualitative research 9. Identifying ethical, legal, and research governance considerations 10. Thematic analysis 11. Analysis of data and a computerised data analysis workshop (using NVivo) 12. Framework analysis

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: Lectures, seminar discussion following the lecture, workshops and independent study Learning activities include: - Seminar discussions - Working in small groups to formulate a research question, and collect qualitative data using interviews or focus groups - Practical computer workshop Formative feedback from the tutor and student peers will be a key component of the learning environment to ensure that you can move forward in your learning.

Wider reading or practice21
Preparation for scheduled sessions58
Completion of assessment task80
Practical classes and workshops18
Total study time188

Resources & Reading list

Ritchie J and Lewis J (2003). Qualitative Research Practice; a Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers. 

Bryman A and Burgess RG (1994). Analyzing qualitative data. 

Denzin NK and Lincoln YS (2005). Handbook of Qualitative Research. 

Pope C, Mays N (2006). Qualitative Research in Health Care. 

Murphy E and Dingwall R (2003). Qualitative Methods and Health Policy Research. Social problems & social issues. 

Creswell JW (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: choosing among five approaches. 

Bryman A and Burgess R (1994). Analysing qualitative data. 

Barbour, RS (2008). Introducing qualitative research: a student's guide to the craft of doing qualitative research. 

Bowling A (2009). Research Methods in Health: Investigating Health and Health Services. 

Silverman D (2006). Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for analysing talk, text and interaction. 

Bell J (2005). Doing your Research Project. 

Digital recorder. 


Assessment Strategy

Formative Assessment Formative assessment activities and subsequent feedback will be a key component of lectures, seminars and workshops. This might involve presenting your ideas verbally or in written form, either as an individual or in a group. This formative assessment is not compulsory but is designed to ensure that you can move forward in your learning and so support the successful completion of your summative assessments. Summative Assessments These assessments are compulsory and linked to whether you pass this module and to your progression on the degree programme


MethodPercentage contribution
Group research topic presentation 25%
Qualitative research report  (2500 words) 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Qualitative research report 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Students may wish to purchase texts to support their learning, however, the library is well stocked with suitable texts.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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