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

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To develop and advance students’ understanding of the qualitative tradition in social research
To introduce contemporary qualitative research designs across a range of social science 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 two introductory generic 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 eight options, from which the student must choose two. Six options are split between lectures and workshops, with the possibility of student reading sessions. Two options are taught using a blended approach, providing directed online reading and activies (via the VLE) which are subsequently explored through in-person structured interactions. The options cover a wide range of qualitative approaches, outlining their strengths and weaknesses. The module closes with series of generic 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 ther application through interactive exercises and discussion. Student reading sessions are designed to allow students an opportunity to research the methodological literature and prepare for workshop sessions.

Students will have the opportunity to take the following compulsory and optional sessions:
•       Philosophical Roots and Epistemological Frameworks
•       Transcription of Spoken Data
•       Methods of Analysing Spoken Data
•       Methodology in Theoretical Linguistic Research
•       Researching Museums as Institutions and Collections
•       Approaches to Museum, Gallery and Heritage Displays
•       Working with Human Subjects in Gallery and Heritage Research
•       Interviewing Approaches
•       Interviewing the Less Powerful
•       Using Video in Interviews
•       Interviewing Elites
•       Focus Groups
•       Biographical Interviewing
•       A Guide to Using Archives
•       Introduction to Special Collections and Archives
•       Palaeography and Manuscripts
•       Maps, Illustrations, Cartoons and Photographs
•       Printed Material and Descriptive and Historical Bibliography
•       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
•       Practise-led Research in the Academy
•       Making as Critical Creative Practise
•       Working with Objects and Archives
•       Making Connections in Expanded Architectural Research
•       Creative Writing as Research
•       The Body in Cyberspace and the Digital Humanities
•       Digital Arts Practise
•       Collaborative Projects
•       Scholarly Editing
•       Exploring Visual Representations and Data
•       Integrating Different Data Sources
•       Analysing and Writing-Up Qualitative Data and an Introduction to NVIVO
•       Issues in translating texts and data
•       Dealing with the Pragmatics of Mixed Methods Research

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture62:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading661:0066:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical42:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork22:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1104:00104:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Through a combination of lectures and directed online reading & activities (via the VLE) students are introduced to the epistemological, methodological and ethical principles of qualitative research in a formal way. All lectures and online reading & activities refer to current and contemporary research work to illustrate and focus the issues raised.

The online reading & activities are subsequently explored through in-person structured interactions.
This approach will provide opportunities for students to become familiar with the subject matter and to identify issues/ prepare responses for later discussion. Making a variety of content accessible online for students ahead of in-person structured interactions is important, given the diversity of the student body in terms of disciplinary background and familiarity with terms & concepts. Using this delivery mode, with selected content to appeal to those both new to or familiar with topics, provides students with a personalised learning experience to suit their needs & 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

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M100Critical 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