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 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 two 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 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 activities (via the LMS) 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 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. Student reading sessions are designed to allow students an opportunity to research the methodological literature and prepare for workshop sessions.

Topics offered in previous years, included:
• 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

• 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
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
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time102:0020:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Through a series of directed online reading & activities students are introduced to the epistemological, methodological and ethical principles of qualitative research in a formal way. All scheduled contact time, and reading and activities refer to current and contemporary research work to illustrate and focus the issues raised.

The module begins with online introductory sessions which allow students to familiarise themselves with the module content and teaching and learning approach taken.

Students engage with online reading and activities for each topic, followed by individual or group tasks, online discussions and webinars. This approach provides opportunities for students to become familiar with the subject matter and to identify issues, and prepare responses for later discussion.

Making a variety of content accessible online for students ahead of discussion board or webinar-based structured interactions is important, given the diversity of the student body in terms of disciplinary background and familiarity with terms and 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 and interests.

Discipline-specific and skill-based fieldwork and workshops encourage students to critically apply 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 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.

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, cross-cultural 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
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