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MA Political Science - Political Theory Pathway (Research Route)

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Doing Interviews

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOAN60201
Credit rating 5
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? Yes





  • To introduce the interview as a means of generating research evidence, and to relate the forms of knowledge it generates to other methods used in the social sciences
  • To explore the different types of interview and how they can be used in the research process
  • To give students experience in arranging, performing, and transcribing interviews

  • To encourage students to reflect on their own position in the performance and use of interviews

Learning outcomes



Teaching and learning methods


The first workshop will consist of an introductory lecture, followed by discussion and some practical tasks. Students will be introduced to and experiment with the ‘interview’ as a research method and its intellectual context. We will consider practicalities and techniques, as well as issues raised by the readings.

During the session, students will complete a number of small tasks around arranging, conducting, and analysing interviews. At the end of the first day, students will be set an interviewing task plus assignment.

In the second workshop, the lecture and discussion will reflect on some of the challenges of using and interpreting interview data, and we will draw upon students’ experiences with their practice interview.

Assessment methods

Assessment – 1500 word assignment

Students are asked to write a critical reflection on the practice interview they planned and conducted. This is a scholarly essay: so the reflection must include analysis using pertinent literature. The reflection may include excerpts of data. These are not to be included in the 1500 word count and should not exceed 1000 words.

Recommended reading

Reading for Session 1: (available via blackboard)

Leech, Beth, 2002. ‘Asking Questions: Techniques for Semi-Structured Interviews’, PS: Political Science and Politics, 35 (4) pp. 665-668 

Staples, James, and Katherine Smith. 2015. ‘Introduction: The Interview as Analytical Category’. In Extraordinary Encounters: Authenticity and the Interview. Katherine Smith, James Staples and Nigel Rapport, eds. 2015. New York: Berghahn. Pp. 1 – 18.

Reading for Session 2: (available via blackboard)

Phoenix, Ann. 2010. ‘Suppressing intertextual understandings: negotiating interviews and analysis’ in Secrecy and Silence in the Research Process: feminist reflections. Roisin Ryan-Flood and Rosalind Gill (eds.) London: Routledge. pp. 161-176

Before conducting your practical interviewing task, you may wish to read the following as preparation:

Woodward Sophie. 2016. ‘Object interviews, material imaginings and ‘unsettling’ methods: interdisciplinary approaches to understanding materials and material culture’. Qualitative Research 16[4]: 359-374.



Further reading

Benny, M. and E. Hughes. 1956. ‘Of Sociology and the Interview: Editorial Preface’.  American Journal of Sociology LXII (2): 137-142.

Bernard, H. Russell. 2002. Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Methods. Third edition. Altamira Press.

Brinkmann, Svend. 2013. Qualitative Interviewing: Understanding Qualitative Research. Oxford.

Carrithers, Michael. 2005. ‘Why Anthropologists Should Study Rhetoric’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 11: 577-583.

Carrithers, Michael, ed. 2012[2009]. Culture, rhetoric and the vicissitudes of life. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Clair, Patrick, ed. 2003. Expressions of Ethnography: Novel approaches to qualitative methods. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Clifford, James. 1986. ‘On ethnographic allegory’. In Writing culture: the poetics and politics of ethnography. University of California Press. Pp. 98 – 121. 

Ewing, Katherine P. 1990. ‘The Illusion of Wholeness: Culture, Self, and the Experience of Inconsistency’. Ethos 18[3]:251-278.

Fielding, N., and H. Thomas. 2008. ‘Qualitative interviewing’. In Researching Social Life. N. Gilbert, ed. Third edition. London: Sage. Pp. 245-65.

Finch, J. 1984. ‘‘It’s great to have someone to talk to’: Ethics and Politics of Interviewing Women’. In Social Researching: Politics, Problems, Practice. C. Bell and H. Roberts, eds. London: Routledge. Pp. 70-87.

Fontana, A. and J. Frey. 2003. ‘From Structured Questions to Negotiated Text’. In Handbook of Qualitative Research. N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln, eds. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Pp. 61-106.

Geschiere, Peter. 2010. ‘The Self-Reflective Turn in Ethnography: From Dialogue to Narcissism’ Etnofoor 22[1]:137-146.

Hockey, Jenny. 2002. ‘Interviews as Ethnography? Disembodied Social Interaction in Britain.’ In British Subjects: An Anthropology of Britain. Nigel Rapport, ed. Oxford: Berg. Pp. 209-222.

Holstein, James and Jaber Gubrium. 1995. The Active Interview. Qualitative Research Methods Series 37, London: Sage.

Kvale, S. 1996. InterViews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage Publications.

Pinsky, Dina. 2015. ‘The sustained snapshot: Incidental ethnographic encounters in qualitative interview studies’. Qualitative Research 15(3):  281–295.

Poland, B ‘Transcription Quality’ 2003. Inside Interviewing: New Lenses, New Concerns J H

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 44

Additional notes



Deadline for submission of assignment: - 25 November 2022





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