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NES2106 : Qualitative Research Methods

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Sally Shortall
  • Lecturer: Dr Menelaos Gkartzios, Dr Novieta Sari
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


The module aims to assist students to acquire a critical appreciation of the theoretical and practical application of different qualitative research techniques. The module develops a thorough understanding of the varying requirements, advantages and disadvantages of different qualitative techniques and the ways in which the results obtained can be interpreted. In addition, it aims to equip students with a strong social science element in SNES with essential skills for the research component of their final year dissertations. Introductory sessions discuss the nature of qualitative research and its relationship with quantitative research. The most commonly used qualitative techniques (interviews, focus groups, participant observation and documents as data sources) are then discussed in terms of their theoretical underpinnings and the processes involved in applying the techniques in practice. The module then describes how to analyse, present and write-up qualitative data.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Intro to the module/characteristics of qualitative research
2. Development of qualitative research and research design
3. In-depth interviews
4. Focus groups
5. Participant observation
6. Action research
7. Documents research
8. Qualitative data analysis
9. Mixed method approaches
10. Examples of qualitative research in student projects
11. Using qualitative techniques in your dissertation

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials61:006:00Online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture51:005:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops61:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00Online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Online
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is led by experienced staff at the Centre for Rural Economy who have used qualitative techniques in their research and will cover the theory behind the use of a variety of different techniques and their practical implementation, drawing on one or more recent research projects. Material will be delivered in a blended approach with both online and present-in-person teaching. Lectures on the theory of methods will be followed by practical workshops allowing students to critically evaluate qualitative approaches to undertaking and presenting research and their limitations. Specific lectures are scheduled to present and discuss real examples of how students have used qualitative research methods in SNES dissertations, and to support students developing their research proposal. A surgery assignment to discuss any questions prior to essay submission is scheduled as well. Knowledge and understanding gained through this module will assist students in planning the primary data collection stage of their Stage 3 dissertations.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M1001500 words
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1Mworkshops where students are testing in practice qualitative methods (mock exercises, interview role play, data analysis workshop)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The summative assignment (individual essay) asks students to consider specific qualitative methods for specific research projects (decided and led by the students). The assignment tests students' ability to do a desktop study using academic journal papers on a particular topic of their choice and their ability to critically discuss qualitative research methods. The assignment aims to assist students in choosing an appropriate technique for their final year dissertations and develop the methodology section of their dissertation. Formative assessment is taking place through the weekly workshops (interviews, mock exercises, etc.) based on specific research methods.

Reading Lists