module specification

PC6050 - Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 150
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
111 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Data collection (1500-2000 words)
Coursework 50%   Data analysis Describe the assessment. (2000 words)
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Friday Afternoon

Module summary

This module is designed to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills in qualitative research. Emphasis will be placed on the exploration of the links between epistemology, methodology and theoretical explanations in psychology. In doing this, students will be introduced to a range of qualitative approaches to data collection and data analysis.

Prior learning requirements

PC5001 Research Design and Analysis in Psychology


Topics will be drawn from,
— Introduction to different epistemological and methodological positions in qualitative research.
— Approaches to data collection (e.g., observation techniques, interviewing techniques, focus groups, use of archival sources, diary techniques).
— Data analysis methods based on different epistemological and methodological positions – e.g. contextualism (grounded theory, ethnography); constructivism (discourse analysis, narrative analysis); and phenomenology (interpretative phenomenologial analysis).
— Design of qualitative research studies.
— Structure and approach in reporting qualitative research.
— Ethical issues in qualitative research.
— Use of computer-based analysis packages for qualitative research (e.g. Nvivo).

Learning Outcomes LO 1 - 7

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Lectures will deliver core material (e.g., key perspectives, empirical work and theoretical explanations) and will provide a framework for further reading and independent study. The workshops will require preparatory work on the part of the students and are a place where students can reflect on their own learning and personal growth. These will also provide practical elements where methods of data collection and analysis are used. There will be opportunity also for students to complete a reflective diary and a discussion forum on WebLearn to discuss any issues, thoughts and ideas that arise as the students progress through the module.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will:
1. be able to employ different methods of data collection and data analysis within qualitative research
2. have an understanding of the ethical issues involved in qualitative research
3. be able to write a report of qualitative research study in an appropriate format
4. be able to apply appropriate criteria to evaluating qualitative research

Assessment strategy

Summative assessment will be coursework based. The assessment comprises two pieces of coursework arising from related practical work.

The first focuses on designing and developing materials for data collection (e.g., interview schedule, observation framework) which are then piloted and critically evaluated.  The coursework report includes an introduction to the methodological assumptions behind this approach, a description of the development process, the materials and a critical evaluation of the data collection method. 

The second focuses on employing a particular method of analysing and interpreting data (e.g., Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Discourse Analysis) on the data set (e.g., interview transcripts, secondary materials).  The coursework report includes a description of the process of analysis, a discussion of the philosophical and epistemologial assumptions behind the analysis, the interpretation rendered, and an evaluation of the approach used. 

For each piece of coursework, students are given a choice of three equivalent assignments: in the first case, these vary in terms of the method of data collection to be employed; and in the second, in terms of the approach to analysing and interpreting data.  The purpose of this is to enable students to select the methods which may be of most interest/ relevance to them  which may then feed into their knowledge surrounding their psychology project.

There will be ample opportunity for discussion in class, practical elements to the different methods of data collection and analysis through the workshops and through one to one webbased discussions with the lecturer using Journal facility on weblearn allowing formative assessment. Students must gain an average mark of 40% across the two coursework components in order to pass this module.


Core reading

Flick, U. (2014). An Introduction to qualitative research, (5th edition). London: Sage 
Willig, C. (2013) Introducing qualitative research in psychology. (3rd edition). Maidenhead: McGraw Hill