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The University of Southampton

SOCI2020 Qualitative Research: Foundations, Principles and Skills

Module Overview

This module has two goals. The main one is to teach you the foundations and principals of qualitative research and the key skills involved in undertaking qualitative research. The second is to support you in identifying a topic and designing a research project for your third year dissertation. One of the pre-requisites for PSYC3053

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To develop students’ understanding of the epistemological foundations and principals of qualitative research To develop students’ critical skills in evaluating qualitative research methodologies To develop students’ practical skills in conducting qualitative research and data analysis. To support students in designing and planning their dissertation and writing their dissertation proposal

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Outline the epistemological foundations and key principals of qualitative research
  • Identify and describe the key features of a range of qualitative methodologies and tools
  • Critically evaluate qualitative research methods
  • Design a research project
  • Write a research proposal, outlining relevant academic debates and literatures, setting out research questions, methods, sampling, analysis and ethical issues.
  • Communicate your own ideas and arguments effectively in written form.
  • Locate and synthesise information from a range of printed and on-line sources
  • Collect and analyse qualitative data


Part 1 • The epistemological foundations of qualitative research • The key principals of qualitative research • Qualitative interviews and focus groups • Documents as data • Ethnography and participant observation • Analysing qualitative data Part 2 • Choosing a dissertation topic • Dissertation proposal - Literature reviewing and forming research questions • Dissertation proposal - Choosing a method, sampling and ethics

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module is delivered through a programme of 10 lectures, 10 seminars and a library workshop. The first 8 weeks are focused on the foundations, principals and skills of qualitative research. The final two weeks are focused on the key stages of planning a dissertation and writing a dissertation proposal.

Independent Study130
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Bryman, A (2004, 2008, 2012). Social Research Methods. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Critical review  (1000 words) 30%
Dissertation proposal  (3000 words) 60%
Seminar Participation 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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