The University of Southampton

RESM6103 Qualitative Methods I

Module Overview

The module will introduce students to postgraduate level qualitative methods approaches in social sciences.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To introduce students to Postgraduate level qualitative methods approaches in Social Sciences.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the defining characteristics of key qualitative research methods and have an overview of various types of data collection
  • Appreciate epistemological and ethical issues involved in qualitative research.
  • Effectively read and summarise literature on qualitative research methods to construct arguments about their value and application
  • Understand the principles of Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS)
  • Contribute to discussions within seminars
  • Make informed decisions about choosing and using appropriate qualitative data collection and analysis methods
  • Use CAQDAS to code qualitative data
  • Write up an evaluation of the methods and methodology employed within a published piece of qualitative research
  • Evaluate strengths and weaknesses of specific methods.


The syllabus for this 10 CATS module will cover an introduction to qualitative methods and a range of qualitative data collection methods. We will consider the defining characteristics of qualitative research and its epistemological underpinnings. The students will be introduced to qualitative interviewing, focus group research, observational methods and secondary data analysis. These sessions will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of those methods considering various practical and ethical issues from a multidisciplinary perspective as well as issues of sampling. This will be followed by a session on organising and coding data. Students will also participate in a workshop on CAQDAS (and will be given a choice of software including NVivo, Atlas.ti and Transana. Indicative Syllabus: 1. Course overview and introduction to qualitative methods 2. Qualitative interviewing 3. Focus groups 4. Observational methods 5. Secondary data analysis: documents and archives 6. Organising and Coding Data and NVivo workshop

Special Features

This is an innovative, cross-disciplinary module that will offer advanced training (level 1) in qualitative methods to students on 18 postgraduate pathways from across the Faculties of Health, Humanities, Social and Human Sciences and Physical and Applied Sciences under the auspices of the University’s ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. The module has been collaboratively designed by representatives from the Faculties/Academic Units that will send students for this qualitative training. Lectures will be delivered by experts in qualitative methods drawn from across the Faculties (as appropriate) and seminars will be delivered by pathways / groups of pathways as appropriate.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will be delivered using a ‘hub’ and ‘spoke’ model: at the ‘hub’, there will be generic, multidisciplinary lectures, given by an expert in the field and designed to give students a good introduction to the method/topic. These will be followed by seminars organised in ‘spokes’ which will comprise individual pathways or groups of cognate pathways. Seminar content will be designed to explore the particular issues that arise in using qualitative methods for these disciplines/groups of disciplines and will use a range of pedagogic methods, as appropriate. In addition, the module will offer a choice of computer workshops on a choice of qualitative software packages. Students are also expected to undertake self-directed learning, supported by module materials.

Independent Study87
Total study time100

Resources & Reading list

Mason, J (2002). Qualitative Researching. 

Bryman, A (2008). Social Research Methods. 

Silverman, D (2006). Doing Qualitative Research. 

Ritchie, J. and Lewis, J. (eds) (2003). Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers. 

Willig, C (2008). Introducing Qualitative Research in Psychology: Adventures in Theory and Method.. 

Other. The module will draw strongly on blended learning. In order to deliver this, resources will be made available by the Doctoral Training Centre to support recording of lectures, production of lectures/powerpoint slide show etc. Currently available resources such as textbooks, e-books, software and online materials (e.g. NCRM materials and recordings) will also be used.

Denscombe, M (2007). The Good Research Guide: For Small-Scale Social Research Projects. 


Assessment Strategy

2500 – 3000* word assignment normally an evaluation of a published qualitative study or studies * There is variability because of the varied demands of the different programmes. Each programme will be required to set a fixed limit within this range. We will not permit a +/- of 10%.


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%
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