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The University of Southampton

RESM6009 Applied Research Methods: Qualitative Methods

Module Overview

The module progresses through the key phases of qualitative research design and implementation, emphasising the (often iterative) links between these activities: epistemological concerns, research questions, data collection and analysis techniques, and the interpretation and implications of qualitative findings. This module is divided into six three-hour interactive sessions that cover methodological concepts used in applied psychology and provide formative hands-on opportunities for skills development. Sessions are structured to facilitate both conceptual learning and the development of applied research skills. Students are expected to take an active role in class. The module is aligned with the Research Development Framework (RDF) in the following ways. 1. Knowledge base. •The methods and techniques appropriate for research design •Literacy and numeracy skills and language abilities appropriate for research •How to identify, apply and develop methods and techniques appropriate for research projects. 2. Cognitive abilities. •How to analyse and evaluate findings using appropriate methods •How to recognise and validate problems; formulate and apply solutions to a range of research problems One of the pre-requisites for PSYC8042

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The purpose of this module is to refresh and build upon qualitative research knowledge and skills acquired during undergraduate research methods training in psychology. This module aims to provide an overview of the purpose, design and conduct of qualitative research projects in psychology. The objectives are to develop your ability to critically appraise published qualitative studies and to enhance your practical skills in applying qualitative techniques.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the theoretical foundations and purposes of qualitative research.
  • Identify key considerations when conducting applied qualitative research in professional settings (such as schools, clinics, and hospitals), and with special populations (such as children, people with mental health difficulties and people with physical illnesses).
  • Identify specific qualitative methodologies in which you need advanced specialist training.
  • Critically appraise published qualitative studies
  • Use sound judgement in selecting appropriate qualitative methods for various research objectives.
  • Develop ethical leadership graduate attributes - awareness of and ability to tackle complex ethical issues in qualitative research
  • Develop research and inquiry graduate attributes– qualitative research skills, e.g. interviewing, handling and interpreting data
  • Develop academic graduate attributes – ability to critically appraise knowledge claims based on qualitative methods
  • Develop communication skills graduate attributes – ability to communicate research designs and findings, using evidence to illustrate and develop an argument
  • Design and use suitable tools (e.g. an interview topic guide) to collect qualitative data.
  • Analyse qualitative data and present findings


Topics include: • The purpose and nature of qualitative research methods; application of qualitative research methods in different fields of professional psychological inquiry • The design, implementation in applied psychology settings, strengths and limitations of major techniques of qualitative data collection - interviewing, focus groups, participant observation – and creative approaches (e.g. photo elicitation). • Essential techniques of qualitative data handling and analysis – transcription, thematic coding, inductive analysis, presenting findings – and the use of computer software to facilitate these processes. • The defining characteristics, strengths and limitations of major qualitative methodologies used in psychology, e.g. grounded theory, IPA, discursive psychology. • Criteria for assessing the quality of qualitative research. Indicative session titles: 1. Introducing and Appraising Qualitative Research 2. Qualitative Data Collection 1 3. Qualitative Data Collection 2 4. Thematic Coding 5. Interpretative Approaches 6. Discursive Methodologies

Special Features

This module is one of a series of Applied Psychological Research Methods (APRM) modules developed within the Academic Unit of Psychology. These modules are taught by experts in applied psychology and have been developed to build upon research methods training already completed at undergraduate level and cover the common needs for training in research methods, and quantitative and qualitative analyses for all students in their first year of postgraduate study in psychology. The modules have been designed to contribute towards both the content areas and levels of expertise required to meet the academic knowledge base requirements and required competencies for Programme Standards set out by the British Psychological Society (BPS), and the Standards of Proficiency for Practioner Psychologists set out by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This is a 10 CATS (5 ECTS) module, which translates into a total study time of 100 hours. These 100 hours are split into 18 teaching hours and 82 hours of independent study. The 18 teaching hours will consist of six sessions, each lasting three hours. Sessions will usually be organised using a hub and spoke model. A lecture will be delivered to all students (the “hub”). This will be followed by workshops delivered in small groups (the “spokes”) comprising students studying similar sub-disciplines. Where possible, the lectures will follow an interactive format, for example through the use of zappers. In the workshops you will discuss and practice applying the techniques described in the lecture. You will get verbal feedback to help develop your skills during the workshops. During the workshops you will also work on collecting and analysing data for the final assessment, a mini qualitative project. You will reinforce your learning by undertaking independent study; reading lists and e-resources will be provided to guide you. The module assumes basic prior knowledge of qualitative methods equivalent to that provided during an undergraduate degree in Psychology.

Preparation for scheduled sessions12
Practical classes and workshops6
Completion of assessment task24
Wider reading or practice46
Total study time100

Resources & Reading list

Blackboard. A variety of resources will be available on Blackboard. These will include lecture slides and related materials, factsheets, workshop tasks, reading lists, and links to useful websites and qualitative data archives. Blended e-learning resources will include lecture recordings, a discussion forum, podcasts, and formative quizzes so that you can test your understanding of key concepts.

Smith JA (Ed). (2008). Qualitative psychology: a practical guide to research methods. 

Silverman, D. (Ed.) (2011). Qualitative Research. 


Willig, C. (2013). Introducing qualitative research in psychology. 

Willig, C. & Stainton-Rogers, W. (Eds.) (2008). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology. 

Forrester, MA. (Ed.) (2010). Doing Qualitative Research in Psychology. A practical guide. 


Assessment Strategy

This module is assessed by one piece of coursework. This consists of a 2000 word report (plus essential specified appendices) on a mini qualitative project. The mini-qualitative project will be carried out partly in class and partly in your independent study time. The project requires you to collect and analyse your own qualitative data on a given topic. Full details will be provided in class.


MethodPercentage contribution
Mini Qualitative Project  (2000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Mini Qualitative Project  (2000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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