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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. The module assumes basic prior knowledge of qualitative methods equivalent to that provided during an undergraduate degree in Psychology.

Aims and Objectives

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.

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. The lectures use interactive features including, for example, quizzes with immediate feedback, small group discussions, individual coding exercises and other activities. Staff provide verbal feedback during these activities to help you gauge and develop your knowledge and understanding. Test-yourself multiple choice questions (with automated feedback/answers) are available on i-survey/Blackboard so that you can evaluate your own knowledge and understanding. 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.

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

Resources & Reading list

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

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.

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. 

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

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


Assessment Strategy

This module is assessed by one piece of coursework, a mini qualitative project. The mini-qualitative project is carried out partly in small groups 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. The coursework is written up individually. Full details are provided in class.


MethodPercentage contribution
Mini Qualitative Project  (2000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Mini Qualitative Project  (2000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


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:

Printing and Photocopying Costs

Students are expected to fund their own printing and photocopying costs, if any.


Core texts should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. The library will also have at least one copy of textbooks listed as additional background reading , or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies.

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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