BASS Politics and Sociology / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Qualitative Research Design & Methods

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY20091
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes



This course unit provides an overview of the principles and practices of qualitative social research. It explains the philosophical principles underlying qualitative research design and the key steps involved in designing a qualitative research project (the role of theory, literature review, research question design and sampling strategies). It introduces key qualitative research methods including a range of qualitative interview techniques, observation and participant observation and the use of documents and visual images. It explores different approaches to, and techniques for, the analysis of qualitative data. It considers the importance of ethics, power and politics in conducting, interpreting and writing up qualitative research


-To consider the meaning and rationale of qualitative social research.

To explore the principles of qualitative social research strategy and design, and how these principles may be applied in practice.

To clarify how research questions, research strategies, research methods and forms of analysis influence each other in the context of qualitative social research projects.

To outline a range of key qualitative social research methods and examine their possibilities, strengths and weaknesses in relation to specific research questions and strategies, both in theoretical terms and through the examination of various practical case studies.

To familiarise students with historical and contemporary examples of different qualitative social research methods in action.

 To consider some key methods for the analysis of different kinds of qualitative data.

 To equip students with the requisite knowledge, skills and understanding to enable them to effectively design and carry out an independent small-scale qualitative social research project (especially in the context of a third year dissertation).

Learning outcomes

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

Understand and explain the logic of qualitative social research.

Outline and effectively apply the principles of qualitative social research strategy and design.

Critically evaluate the suitability of a range of qualitative research methods for use with different kinds of research question.

Cite some key historical and contemporary examples of different qualitative social research methods in action.

 Select and deploy appropriate forms of analysis of different kinds of qualitative data.

 Effectively design and carry out an independent small-scale qualitative social research project

Teaching and learning methods

Lecture-style material will be delivered weekly through a mix of up to one hour pre-recorded (i.e. asynchronous) content and one hour live (i.e. synchronous) lecturer-led classes. Additionally, weekly one hour small-group tutorials will be delivered on-campus as long as government guidelines allow, otherwise they will be delivered online.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 60%
Written assignment (inc essay) 40%

Feedback methods

All sociology courses include both formative feedback - which lets you know how you’re getting on and what you could do to improve - and summative feedback - which gives you a mark for your assessed work.

Recommended reading


Atkinson, P., Coffey, A. and Delamont, S. (2003) Key Themes in Qualitative Research, Oxford: AltaMira Press.

Babbie, E (2012) The Practice of Social Research, Wadsworth Publishing.

Berg, B. (2008) Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences, Pearson.

Bryman, A. (2008) Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press.

Corbin, J. and Strauss, A. (2008) Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory, London: Sage.

Ezzy, D (2002) Qualitative Analysis: Practice and Innovation, London: Routledge.

Gilbert, N (2008) Researching Social Life, London: Sage.

Mason, J. (2002) Qualitative Researching, London: Sage.

May, T. (2002) Qualitative Research in Action, London: Sage.

Silverman, D. (2010) Qualitative Research, London: Sage.

Silverman, D (2006) Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analysing Talk, Text and Interaction, London: Sage.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Robert Meckin Unit coordinator
Hilary Pilkington Unit coordinator

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