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MRes Primary Care (Web-based Learning) / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Qualitative Research Methods

Unit code POPH63121
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit is suited to anyone working as a health worker or researcher who is interested in learning about qualitative research methods. Some students take this unit to better understand published research. Others who have previously only studied quantitative research methods take this unit to gain an insight into different ways of thinking about research. For students who are planning a career or substantive research using these methods, this unit is an excellent starter, but they will in time probably require further training.

This unit is designed to introduce students to the theory behind qualitative research and a number of qualitative research methods. On completion, students should be able to understand and appreciate qualitative research and undertake basic research.

This is an interactive online course. Students are expected to engage in weekly discussion boards with their peers and tutors.

10% of the total marks for this course will be awarded for assessed group discussion board activity. 


To enable participants to develop the skills to use qualitative methodology in undertaking public health and primary care research.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, successful students will be able to:

  • Understand the philosophical principles of undertaking qualitative research applied to health settings.
  • Explain and critically discuss the principal qualitative methods that can be deployed to undertake research as a means of exploring a range of important public health and primary care issues.
  • Compare and contrast the ways in which qualitative data may be collected and used in primary care and public health research.
  • Identify, synthesise and conduct secondary analysis of qualitative data on topics relevant to primary care, public health or health services research.


  • Concepts and the philosophical basis of qualitative research applied to health settings
  • Synthesising and assessing the adequacy of published qualitative research
  • Introduction to data collection methods
  • Carrying out qualitative interviews with individuals in the arena of public health and primary care
  • The principles and practice of ethnography
  • Conducting focus groups
  • Approaching analysis
  • Narrative analysis and thematic analysis
  • Secondary data analysis of existing data sets
  • Ethics, politics and policy: reflecting on the use of qualitative research methods in health care settings
  • Introduction to data analysis software
  • Introduction to alternative data collection methodologies i.e. video, photographs, diaries

Teaching and learning methods

This unit introduces students to the theoretical knowledge that underpins qualitative research, but in addition also introduces students to a number of well used methodologies. As well as online and web based readings students are also encouraged to undertake a number of practical exercises, which will contribute towards the assessment of this unit.

All students will receive written feedback for their mid term and final assignments

Employability skills

Analytical skills
In this module students develop narrative analysis and thematic analysis through synthesising and assessing the adequacy of published qualitative research.
Students help to develop qualitative research skills through data collection methodologies i.e. video, photographs, diaries and interviews.

Assessment methods

Assessment task


Weighting within unit (if relevant)

Midterm assignment

1,500 words


Final assignment

2,500 words


Online assessments




Feedback methods

Students will be provided with personalised feedback for their mid-term and final summative assignments, within 15 working days for mid-term assignments and 20 working days for final submission.

Further opportunities for formative feedback (on non-assessed work) will also be provided during a course unit. 

Recommended reading

Qualitative Methods for Health Research (Required reading)

Green J, Thorogood N, ISBN 978-1-4462-5309-0, 2014 (3rd edition), SAGE Publications Ltd

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christine Greenhalgh Unit coordinator
Reem Addam Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Students who are planning to do a qualitative research dissertation are expected to have undertaken the qualitative research methods module.

If you have any questions about the content of this unit, please contact the course unit leaders, Christine Greenhalgh or Reem Addam, via email on and If you have any other queries, please contact the PGT programme administrators via email on

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