MRes Criminology (Social Statistics) / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Qualitative Research Methods

Course unit fact file
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
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 and learning across course units consists of: (1) preparatory work to be completed prior to teaching sessions, including readings, pre-recorded subject material and online activities; (2) a weekly whole-class lecture or workshop; (3) a tutorial; and (4) one-to-one support via subject specific office hours.

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.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication

Assessment methods

Written assignment (based on a short research exercise) 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

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 16
Independent study hours
Independent study 50

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jo Deakin Unit coordinator

Additional notes

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) teacher-led activities and sessions, (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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