Advanced Qualitative Methods
Course Code: PUBLG105
Course Tutor: Dr Cathy Elliott (Department of Political Science)
Assessment: One 3,000 word assignment
Credit Value: 15
About this course
Given that there is a clear correlation between inequality and prison population, how can we explain the fact that Greece is an outlier and has a surprising low prison population for a country with average inequality? If you are using a focus group to try to understand how social interaction can change people’s political opinions, how will you be able to systematize your data objectively enough to make valid and reliable knowledge claims? How, as researchers, can we analyse the narratives that people use to make sense of their experiences of war or trauma? What sorts of knowledge about politics become possible if we are able to immerse ourselves in the lifeworlds of politicians? How can we understand the way the world is so often thought about in terms of “developed” and “developing” countries, even though there are many poor people in the former and rich people in the latter? When is it permissible to bring your own values into your research, or is it better always to be neutral and objective?
This course won’t necessarily give you
straightforward answers to these question, but it will enable you to develop
your own answers, engage in relevant debates and apply your ideas to your own
research. The course is designed for students who want to deepen their engagement
with methodological debates and expand their range of skills. It is intended
for those students with some knowledge and experience of qualitative research. The
course is designed to help you develop and deepen your knowledge of debates
about philosophical approaches to research on politics and society, including relative
merits of, and relationship, between positivist, interpretivist and
poststructural research. We will also look at a variety of aspects of research
design, including thinking through ethical dilemmas, thinking logically about
how to design qualitative research to make causal inference, and developing
interpretivist and poststructural research designs. We will also develop
understanding of, and practise using, specific research techniques including discourse
analysis, ethnography, qualitative interviewing, focus groups, content analysis
and process tracing. By the end of the course, you should be able rigorously to
evaluate published research and design and carry out your own sophisticated
research project related to real-world problems. This course will also provide students with practical
skills that will help in gaining employment in relevant research positions in
the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Should I take Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods or Advanced Qualitative Methods?
For students deciding between the Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods (PUBLG004) and Advanced Qualitative Methods (PUBLG105) please consider the following.
1) Previous training in research methods: Students taking the Advanced Qualitative Methods course should have taken at least one social science research methods course that covers topics in philosophy of social science, research design and qualitative methods.
2) Previous independent research: Students taking the Advanced Qualitative Methods course should have undertaken an independent research project including planning the project and undertaking and writing up the research.
3) Quiz: There will be a quiz available to help students see if they have the basic knowledge and understanding needed to take the Advanced course.
*Please note that this module is only available to SPP students.