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Qualitative Approaches to Social Science Research - ENV00026C

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  • Department: Environment and Geography
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Katherine Brookfield
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

The module aims to develop students’ knowledge and skills in qualitative research, including the design, collection and analysis using a number of qualitative methods.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

The module aims to develop students’ knowledge and skills in qualitative research. The module will contribute towards the development of a critical appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of a range of research methods. Students will gain useful experience of doing qualitative research and will be able to explore some of the key issues in designing and conducting qualitative research including defining research questions, collection and analysis of qualitative data and identifying appropriate methods to answer the research questions.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module the student would have gained knowledge as follows:

Subject content:

  • Have an awareness of the distinctive character of qualitative approaches to social research including underlying principles
  • Develop knowledge of qualitative approaches to data collection and analysis
  • Demonstrate skills in qualitative approaches to data collection and analysis
  • Be able to critically evaluate the design, conduct and analysis of qualitative research

Academic and graduate skills:

  • Demonstrate written and oral communication; team work and problem-solving skills.
  • Locate and synthesise information from a range of printed and on-line sources.
  • Ability to interpret and evaluate empirical evidence
  • Ability to plan and manage time effectively

Module content

Lectures and practice sessions, will introduce students to some of the elementary issues involved in conducting qualitative research. The contents of the lectures for example will contrast the scientific method to research with qualitative methodologies, including ways of collecting and analysing data.

Contents of the module include:

Research Process

Research questions, research proposal, sampling (non-probability), and, research ethics

Qualitative Data Collection Tools

Secondary data, case research, interview studies, focus groups, action research, ethnography, multi-modal, and participatory processes.

Qualitative Analysis

Thematic, Discourse, Content Analysis (qualitative and quantitative), narrative analyses, documentary (textual) analysis, Bricolage, CAQDAS.


Task Length % of module mark
Mini Qual Report
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Mini Qual Report
N/A 100

Module feedback

Continuous feedback will be made available to the students during the lectures/practicals and field work session.

Indicative reading

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

Additional reading material will be provided throughout the module, linked to the appropriate lectures on the VLE.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.