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Qualitative Health Research Methods

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Durham University
School for Medicine and Health
Contact Provider
150 hours over 10 weeks
Health & Social Welfare Professionals
Durham University, Queens Campus, Ebsworth Building, University Boulevard, Thornaby, TS17 6BH, Cleveland, United Kingdom

CPD courses are delivered at the Queen's Campus, Stockton through short 4-5 day intensive classroom teaching blocks.

Module Description:


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To equip students with detailed knowledge and skills relating to types of qualitative research techniques commonly used in healthcare related research. It covers analysis of a variety of data types, modes of analysis and how these might be properly be included in a research.


  • Introduction to qualitative research process
  • Methods: Narrative research, phenomenolgy, grounded theory, Ethnography, case study, action research, evaluation research
  • Data gathering (common methods): sampling, surveys, interviews, focus groups, consesus panels
  • Data gathering (less common methods): observation, text documents, photography
  • Making sense of your data
  • Data management and analytic techniques
  • Ethics and research governance in qualitative research
  • Quality and rigour in qualitiative research
  • Systematic literature searching

Learning OutcomesSubject-specific Knowledge:

  • By the end of module students will have an understanding of:
  • The variety of qualitative research techniques commonly used in health-related research
  • Issues in the relationship of the researcher to the research subject
  • Strengths and weaknesses of different designs, in terms of their vulnerability to forms of bias

Subject-specific Skills:

  • Designing qualitative research projects
  • Managing and manipulating qualitative data
  • Managing the subject-researcher relationship in participant methods
  • Conducting systematic reviews of qualitative research literature
  • Planning and conducting qualtitative research, both independently and within a team.

Key Skills:

  • The ability to think critically and creatively and to argue coherently;
  • The capacity for sustained independent work and learning at an advanced level and the ability to learn through reflection on practice and experience;
  • The capacity for sustained interprofessional learning and work at an advanced level and the ability to learn through reflection on practice and experience
  • The ability to think independently, including problem-solving ability and the ability to discriminate and use judgement;
  • The ability to organise data, abstract meaning from information and share knowledge at an advanced level;

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module.

  • Lecturing - Introduces key elements of the course - Explains the basic rationale and components of each qualitative research method - Outlines the strengths and limitations of each method
  • Self-paced Learning - Workbooks, including reading and practical exercises will help students to work through concepts in more detail, encouraging group working, peer support and developing inter-professional working skills. Tutorial support will be provided as required. - Computer/practical classes will allow students to develop skills using common statistical packages for qualitative data
  • Independent study, research and analysis - Focuses student knowledge more deeply by pursuing aspects of the module that are of special interest to themselves and exploring specific applications in their field of study.
  • Essay assessment will test students' critical knowledge and understanding of key concepts, their ability to argue coherently and communicate effectively in writing, and to reflectively assess their proficiency in thinking through how the various qualitative research methods can be best utilised in understanding research questions in health.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Integrated lecture and seminar 10 concentrated over 5 days = 3 hr30

Self-paced learning (workbooks) 9 weekly 1hr 30mins = 12

Self paced learning (computer/practicals) 2 occasionally 1 hr 30 mins = 3

Independent study, research and analysis student initiative student determined = 105

Total number of hours = 150

Summative Assessment:

Assignment 3000 words - Weighting 100%

Formative Assessment:

Practical exercises provided in workbooks,computer sessions and tutorials; a draft protocol or ethics application; possibly incorporating online group work

Attendance at all activities will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University

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