MA Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Qualitative Research Methods

Unit code CRIM71361
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 Criminology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course familiarise students with academic debates around qualitative methods in social research.

Indicative content: (1) What is qualitative research?; (2) Interviewing; (3) Observation & ethnography; (4) Unsolicited data & visual methods; (5) Research ethics; (6) Ethical review exercise; (7) Qualitative data analysis; (8) Qualitative data analysis Pt.2 & assignment support.



The aim of the course is to familiarise students with academic debates around qualitative methods in social research. This will be achieved through developing an understanding of various methods of gathering qualitative data (in-depth interviewing, focus groups, observation, and ethnography) and with analysing textual and non-textual material (content analysis, discourse analysis, grounded theory). The course explores the application of these methods to criminological and socio-legal contexts.

Learning outcomes

Students who take full advantage of the course will: (1) gain practical experience of conducting in-depth interviews, or fieldwork observation; (2) become familiar with key methodological debates and literatures informing qualitative research; (3) become aware of the range of unsolicited (often online) data available to researchers for qualitative analysis; (4) be familiar with approaches to qualitative data analysis and interpretation; (5) develop a reflexive approach to their own methodological practice and those of others through an understanding of what counts as quality in qualitative research; (6) develop discussion skills through class work, and analytic and writing skills through the assessment.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching in academic year 20/21 will reflect both University policy and local and national lockdown restrictions operating at the time of delivery. We will offer face-to-face teaching where possible and provide a like for like on-line experience for those unable to be on campus.

Our teaching models will be flexible and allow us to adapt to changing conditions, however, the common intention across units is to provide (1) media, activities and other learning material that should be engaged with before scheduled teaching; (2) a timetabled online lecture/workshop session used for a range of online Q&A and follow-up activities; (3) weekly opportunity for 1:1 support. In total, there will be the opportunity for a minimum of 20 hours of contact time.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Employability skills: In addition to subject-specific knowledge and understanding, Criminology units foster highly employable skills such as the ability to (i) analyse, critique and (re-)formulate a problem or issue; (ii) rapidly and thoroughly review/rate argument and evidence from targeted bibliographic searches; (iii) plan, structure and present arguments in a variety of written formats and to a strict word limit, (iv) express ideas verbally and organise work effectively in small teams for a variety of written and oral tasks; (v) obtain, manipulate and (re-)present different forms of data; (vi) manage time effectively; (vii) reflect on and improve performance through feedback.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Formative feedback (both individual and collective) will be given on (1) on tasks and contribution in class, (2) developing essay plans. Detailed summative feedback will be given on the submitted essay via Blackboard (Grademark).

Recommended reading

Denzin, N. and Lincoln. Y. (2008) Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials. London: Sage.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jo Deakin Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Assessment methods: This unit is summatively assessed by a 3000 word essay worth 100% of the overall mark.

Study hours: Across their course units each semester, full-time students are expected to devote a ‘working week’ of 35-40 hours to study. Accordingly each course unit demands 9-10 hours of study per week comprised of (i) timetabled contact hours, (ii) preparation, required and further reading. Part-time students study the same number of weekly hours per unit but take fewer units per semester.

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