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Qualitative Health Research - HEA00033M

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  • Department: Health Sciences
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jo Taylor
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2017-18

Module aims

By focusing on the appropriateness of qualitative research in answering different types of research questions relating to health and healthcare, the module offers a framework in which to assess credibility in qualitative research design in applied health research. There is an emphasis on using reflexive understanding as a means of generating theoretically informed and practically grounded qualitative research. This mix of theoretical and practical debate is a particular feature of the course and all aspects of research design are discussed. The more formal aims of the course are to:

  • Familiarise students with current theoretical debates about the philosophical origins of qualitative research.
  • Enable students to understand the value and purpose of qualitative approaches and assess its appropriateness for answering different types of research questions.
  • Provide students with the practical skills to conduct or appraise qualitative research by outlining the different techniques for collecting and analysing material.
  • Introduce students to a broad range of qualitative methods, including different and emerging approaches in the use of qualitative methodologies.
  • Teach students the importance of adopting robust, transparent and rigorous methodological strategies in a way that encourages reflexive reconciliation.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the epistemological and ontological assumptions informing qualitative methodologies.
  2. Define the types of research questions that can be appropriately addressed using qualitative methodology.
  3. Explore the range of qualitative techniques for collecting material and know the circumstances under which they are likely to be successful.
  4. Understand the process of qualitative analysis.
  5. Critically evaluate the conduct and presentation of qualitative research.
  6. Understand the potential limitations of descriptive accounts, when presenting qualitative research.
  7. Discuss the multi-faceted nature of reflexivity and apply such understanding to methodological practices.
  8. and more generally: Develop a constructive scepticism towards all types of research design through an understanding of how we produce and construct research findings.

Module content

The emphasis of the module will be on doing qualitative research, albeit in a way that allows for theoretical reconciliation. Such an approach – heavily influenced by accounts of reflexivity – is informed by the basic assumption that methodologies cannot be true or false, only less or more useful. Sceptical thinking on how we do research is strongly encouraged and in this regard, many of the debates introduced in this module have relevance beyond qualitative research.

The module is designed to cover all of the necessary aspects required to design, conduct and critically appraise a qualitative research question. Each teaching week will include both lecture format and small group project work:

Lecture Practical Session
1. What is qualitative research/theoretical underpinnings Formulating qualitative research questions
2. Design, ethics and PPI Designing a topic guide
3. Data collection I: Interviews and focus groups Interview exercise in groups
4. Data collection II: Observation and using documents Guidance and discussion on summative assessment
5. Data analysis I: Overview of analysis techniques Preparation for formative assessment
6. Data analysis II: Documentary analysis, writing up qualitative research Formative assessment: 5 minute presentations on data analysis exercise; feedback from staff/students
7. Credibility in qualitative research Assessment of a qualitative paper
8.Qualitative research and systematic reviews
9. Mixed methods Designing a mixed methods study

In addition each week students will be asked to participate in an on-line journal club whereby a qualitative paper will be examined according to a series of discussion questions.


Task Length % of module mark
Qualitative research proposal
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Qualitative research proposal
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback for summative assessment is provided on the standard proforma, within the timescale specified in the programme handbook.

Indicative reading

  • Barbour, R. (2008). Introducing Qualitative Research: A student guide to the craft of doing qualitative research. London: Sage.
  • Green, J. and Thorogood, N. (2009). Qualitative methods in health research. London: Sage.
  • Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. (1995). Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London: Routledge.
  • Silverman, S. (2013). Doing Qualitative Research. 4th edn. London: Sage.

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.