MSc Occupational Hygiene / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Qualitative Research Methods

Course unit fact file
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
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit is suited to anyone working in public health or related fields, or researchers who are 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 insight into different ways of thinking about research. For students who are planning a career or research using these methods, this unit is an excellent introduction.

This unit is designed to introduce students to the theory behind qualitative research and popular 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 therefore expected to engage with one another on the discussion boards.


To enable students to develop the skills to use qualitative methodology in public health and primary care research and related fields.

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.


  • Introduction to qualitative research
  • Ethics, consent and adequacy
  • Sampling and recruitment
  • Qualitative data collection
    • Part 1 - Interviews
    • Part 2 - Focus groups
    • Part 3 - Alternative methods
  • Qualitative data analysis
    • Part 1 - Different analysis approaches
    • Part 2 - Narrative analysis
  • Qualitative research in a digital age
  • Summary and consolidation 

Teaching and learning methods

This unit introduces students to the theoretical knowledge that underpins qualitative research and also introduces students to a number of well used qualitative methodologies. As well as online and web-based readings, students will also have the opportunity to undertake a practical exercise, which will contribute towards the assessment of this unit. This enables students to practically apply what they learn to real-life practice.

All students will receive written feedback on their assignment. During the midterm break, students will be supported to undertake the practical task and prepare for the assignment.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
At Master's level, we expect students to be able to apply what they know to other contexts, often their own. In this unit, students will have the opportunity to practically apply the material the unit covers through their assessment. Students will be able to develop their skills in qualitative data collection (e.g. interviews).
Reflexivity - Given the subjective nature of qualitative data and methodology, there are so many ways in which researcher bias could influence the study. This can range from study design, to data collection, data analysis and even data interpretation and reporting. Consequently, this unit allows you to examine, judge and reflect on your own practices and explore the implications of your role in producing certain kinds of knowledge.

Assessment methods

Written assignment (including practical task).

Feedback methods

Students will be provided with personalised feedback for their summative assignment (2,500-3,000 words or equivalent) within 20 working days for final submission.

Recommended reading

Green J, Thorogood N, Qualitative Methods for Health Research, (3rd edition), 2014, SAGE Publications Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4462-5309-0.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Veronique Griffith 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 lead. If you have any other queries, please contact the PGT programme administrators via email on

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