Short courses


Research in Action: Qualitative Approach (Health and Disability)

  • 30 hours
  • 2 weeks (3 days per week)


This short course aims to develop your skills in designing and conducting qualitative research to investigate community health in UK or international contexts. It covers both theory and practice.

You'll learn when and how to use appropriate qualitative research methods to explore aspects of community health in high, middle or low-income contexts. This will enable you to enhance the quality and credibility of your qualitative studies.

You'll experience all the stages involved in carrying out qualitative research, while considering theoretical dilemmas and choices to be made during the process.

This course is run by UCL's Institute for Global Health (IGH).

Course content

This practical-oriented course will cover the general principles of qualitative research and when it's appropriate to use different research methods (e.g. interviews, focus groups, observations, participatory methods, visualisations). It will also review the theory underpinning these methods.

You'll learn about the whole process of carrying out a qualitative study through parallel theoretical and practical sessions and by undertaking a small piece of real research in groups.

You're encouraged to develop research protocols and projects with an emphasis on action research approaches.

The course will guide you through: 

  • developing a qualitative research protocol
  • formulating research questions
  • sampling
  • ethics
  • choosing data collection methods
  • thematic analysis
  • interpretation
  • disseminating qualitative research findings in different formats for a variety of audiences

Who this course is for

This course is suitable for professionals working for UK and international NGOs and community organisations, public and private sector organisations (e.g. health, education, social policy) and universities.

Teaching, structure and assessment

This course is taught on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays over two weeks.

It involves lectures, seminars, workshops, self-study, tutorials and group work.

You'll develop your own research protocol and work with others on a group research project.

As a short course student you won't be formally assessed, but you're expected to fully participate in group work. You'll receive a certificate of attendance on completion of the course.

This course can also be taken as a taster course, allowing you to earn UCL credits.

The taster course is assessed by a group project and presentation (40%) and a 2,000 word protocol (60%).

Find out more about the difference between short and taster courses on the IGH website.

Learning outcomes 

By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • design qualitative studies by developing qualitative research questions and qualitative research protocols
  • collect qualitative data using observations, interviews and focus groups discussions
  • evaluate innovative qualitative data collection methods including the use of visualisations and participatory learning and action (PLA) processes
  • apply the process of analysis using a qualitative mini research project undertaken as part of the course
  • assess these processes in relation to different approaches to qualitative research

Entry requirements 

For the short course you'll need:

  • professional work experience in a relevant area and/or a first or second-class honours degree in a relevant subject
  • a good standard of English proficiency

Cost and concessions

The fees for the short course are:

  • Home/EU - £850
  • Overseas - £1,200
  • Overseas low-middle income countries - £750
  • IGH staff - free 
  • other UCL staff - £400
  • IGH/UCL alumni - £650

The fees for the taster course are:

  • Home/EU - £950
  • Overseas - £1,300
  • Overseas low-middle income countries - £850
  • IGH staff - £100
  • other UCL staff - £500
  • IGH/UCL alumni - £750
Learner reviews

"Overall the module was excellent. The quality of teaching was impressive and I really enjoyed it. I think the structure of the module is great because it blends the theoretical learning with the practical group work and so by the end of the module, I felt I had really gained very practical skills." [MSc student 2015]

"I enjoyed every single session we did as it was so practical and relevant and the module organisers taught us with enthusiasm, got us to think and even the critical analysis session turned out to be excellent." [MSc student 2015]

Course information last modified: 24 Nov 2021, 08:55