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HSS8004 : Qualitative Methodology in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Laura Leonardo
  • Lecturer: Dr Areti Galani, Dr Emma Clavering, Dr Dariusz Gafijczuk, Professor Janice McLaughlin, Professor Peter Hopkins, Dr Tom Schofield, Dr Ian Biddle, Professor Steve Walsh, Dr Adam Brandt, Ms Karen Laing, Professor Paul Seedhouse, Mrs Rosalind Beaumont, Dr Stacy Gillis, Professor Deborah Chambers, Dr Johannes Heim, Dr Spencer Hazel, Dr Katharine Rietig, Dr Samiksha Sehrawat, Dr Jen Tarr, Professor Richard Clay, Dr Pamela Woolner, Dr David Webb, Professor Rachel Pain, Professor Liz Todd, Dr Tiago Sousa Garcia
  • Other Staff: Mrs Geraldine Hunwick, Dr Melanie Wood
  • Owning School: HASS Faculty Office
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To develop and advance students’ understanding of the qualitative tradition in research
To introduce contemporary qualitative research designs across a range of disciplines
To examine the intellectual, theoretical and methodological development of the qualitative paradigm
To develop awareness and understanding of the variety of epistemological perspectives which underpin qualitative approaches to social inquiry
To examine the ethical principles, implications and dilemmas of qualitative research
To develop understanding of the nature, methods and application of qualitative research
To develop skills in qualitative methods of data collection
To examine a range of strategies for organising and analysing qualitative data
To consider different approaches to qualitative report-writing
To encourage students to cultivate a critical and reflexive approach to research practice

Outline Of Syllabus

The module opens with some introductory sessions, which all students attend, exploring the variety of epistemological positions which make up the generic term 'Qualitative methods'.

The module is then split into a wide range of sessions, which cover a wide range of qualitative approaches, outlining their strengths and weaknesses. Students will choose sessions to attend, based on their own research interests. The module closes with series of lectures which shift the focus to analytical techniques and approaches using qualitative data.

The mix of online activities, lectures and workshops provide both a formal introduction to the substantive issues raised by qualitative methodologies, and an opportunity to examine their application through interactive exercises and discussion.

Topics offered in previous years, include:
• Philosophical Roots and Epistemological Frameworks
• Transcription of Spoken Data
• Methods of Analysing Spoken Data
• Multimodality in Language Research
• Methodology in Theoretical Linguistics Research
• Working with Human Subjects in Museum, Gallery and Heritage Research
• Approaches to Museum, Gallery and Heritage Displays
• Critical Approaches to the Uses of the Past in the Present
• Researching Affect and Memory Amongst Museum Visitors
• Interviewing Approaches
• Focus Groups
• Specialist Interviewing Panel Discussion
• Interviewing Workshop
• A Guide to Using Archives
• Getting Started in Special Collections
• Critical Analysis of Primary Sources
• Palaeography and Transcription (Deciphering Handwritten Documents)
• Manuscript and Print (Editing and Bibliographic Description)
• Thinking Texts
• Memory and the Archive
• Visual Culture and the 'Cinematic Mode of Production'
• Noise Cultures and Base/Mass Materialism
• The Affective Turn: Or the New Scholarship of the Senses
• Ethnographic Traditions
• Participatory Action Research
• Case Study Approaches
• Introduction: Practice-led Research in the Academy
• Making as Critical Creative Practice
• Wonder: Working with Objects and Archives
• Making Connections and Addressing the Field of Expanded Architectural Research
• The Body in Cyberspace and the Digital Humanities
• Design and the Digital Humanities
• Collaborative Projects
• Scholarly Editing
• Researching Digital Cultural Heritage
• Dealing with the Pragmatics of Mixed Methods Research
• Using Visual Representations in Research
• Integrating Different Data Sources
• Analysing and Writing-Up Qualitative Data and NVivo Taster

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00Some of these sessions will be offered as live synchronous webinars
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading501:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops61:006:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork22:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1101:00110:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is blended and comprises of both flipped classroom-style options, present-in person lectures and directed online reading & activities (via Canvas). The students are introduced to the epistemological, methodological and ethical principles of qualitative research in a formal way and all lectures and online reading & activities are informed by contributors' current research interests and refer to current and contemporary research work to illustrate and focus the issues raised.

Over 30 colleagues contribute to this module, covering a vast range or subject areas. This richness of perspective is reflected in the delivery methods that range from online reading and activities, subsequently explored through in-person structured interactions, to more traditional lecture and Q&A formats.
These approaches will provide opportunities for students to become familiar with the subject matter and to identify issues for discussion.

In all modes of delivery, a variety of contents are accessible online for students ahead of /immediately after any in-person structured interactions: this is important, given the diversity of the student body in terms of disciplinary background and familiarity with terms & concepts. This appeals to those both new to or familiar with topics and provides students with a personalised learning experience to suit their needs and interests.

The discipline-specific and skill-based workshops encourage students to critically apply these insights to the contingencies of research practice, and to consider a variety of strategies for overcoming fieldwork, analytical and organisational difficulties.

Allocated periods for independent and guided reading will allow students to develop and refine their academic understanding of qualitative research practice, and encourage them to embed their research skills in classic and contemporary epistemological and methodological literature.

At appropriate points in the module students will engage in online discussion. These discussions would occur over the course of a week, ie. asynchronously, allowing students/ staff to have flexible and meaningful engagement ahead of/ after in-person structured interactions.

This overall teaching & learning approach combines the advantage of accessible modes of knowledge delivery, which allow students to learn at their own pace, with opportunities for interdisciplinary and interpersonal communication.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M1003000 word critical methodological review
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The critical methodological review will encourage students to reflect on the nature of current research practice and assess and appraise its efficacy in terms of epistemological assumptions, ethical principles, values and politics of research practice, and methods of data collection. Through review, students will be able to develop skills in communicating and present arguments in relation to the adequacy of qualitative research practice at the level of analysis and interpretation, as well as policy impact and relevance.

Reading Lists