Qualitative Methods in Health Research


Introduces students to qualitative health research methods. The course develops students' skills in qualitative research design, appraising qualitative research and conducting interpretive analysis.


WebLearn GradSchool

  • Semester 2 - 2016
  • Trimester 1 - 2017
  • Semester 2 - 2017

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Understand the theoretical foundations of some of the major approaches to qualitative research

2. Understand the nature and scope of qualitative research as it applies to health;

3. Understand the ethical issues involved in qualitative research

4. Understand issues of rigour in qualitative research

5. Be able to identify appropriate contexts and questions for qualitative research in health;

6. Be able to select appropriate methods of qualitative data collection and analysis

7. Be able to critically appraise reports of qualitative research;

8. Have undertaken and reported an interpretive analysis of qualitative data


The subject is written as distance learning modules with weekly on-line discussion groups moderated by tutors.

The course content ranges from discussing the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research, to comparing the different methodological approaches, to hands-on experience analysing qualitative data.

Along the way the course covers issues such as:

  • The ethical implications of qualitative research;
  • The validity of qualitative research findings;
  • Critically appraising qualitative research;
  • The strengths and limitations of the various means of data collection: participant/non-participant, observation, interviewing, Focus Group Discussions; unobtrusive methods (such as analysing texts)
  • Choosing one from the various approaches to data analysis, for example: grounded theorising; discourse analysis.
  • The application of different methods of theory-building in qualitative data analysis;
  • Testing and confirming findings in qualitative research;
  • Triangulation and other means to strengthening validity of qualitative research;
  • Writing a qualitative research report.

The course gives students the opportunity for hands-on experience with interpretive analysis i.e. coding and categorising qualitative data.

Assessment Items

Written Assignment: Written Assessment 1

Written Assignment: Written Assessment 2

Written Assignment: Written Assessment 3

Contact Hours

WebLearn GradSchool

Online Activity

Online 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term