Skip to site navigation

Introduction to Qualitative Methods A

Course Code: PUBLG004A

Course Tutor: Dr Alexandra Hartman (Department of Political Science) and Dr Cathy Elliott (Department of Political Science)

Assessment: One 3,000 word research design paper

Credit Value: 15

About this course

This course is required of all students pursuing MSc degrees in the Department of Political Science/School of Public Policy, unless you are taking Advanced Qualitative Research Methods.  The course is designed to introduce you to, and help you become familiar with, a variety of qualitative research methods. The course provides an introduction to various philosophical approaches to research on politics and society and also introduces you to a range of research methods. By the end of the course, you should be able to understand a variety of approaches to qualitative research, design a simple research project related to real-world problems, and evaluate published research from a methodological perspective.


To prepare for this course, we would like you to get into the habit of listening to the BBC Radio 4 programme Thinking Allowed, which is broadcast every Wednesday at 4pm and is also available to listen online or download here: This entertaining show is about the latest research in the social sciences and every week features academics talking about their work. Lots of students find it quite addictive, but luckily there is a huge archive of past programmes online, so you never need to go into withdrawal. As you are listening, try to think about what the researchers actually did to carry out their research and how they solved any problems, including ethical ones. Would you do it any differently? Do their methods impact on the robustness of their findings?

Core texts

There are two core texts for the course. We recommend that you purchase them both. If you would like to do some preliminary reading over the summer, these texts are a very good starting point and will help you get ahead on the course materials:

  • Sandra Halperin and Oliver Heath (2012) Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Schartz-Shea, Peregrine and Yanow, Dvora. 2012. Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes London and New York: Routledge

Summer Reading

If you would like to read some examples of qualitative research over the summer, we will be discussing the following books during the course. They are both really fun and interesting to read and will help you get a “feel” for qualitative research:

· Alice Goffman (2014) On The Run: Fugitive Life in an American City Chicago: Chicago University Press

· Vincanne Adams (2013) Markets of Sorrow, Labors of Faith: New Orleans in the Wake of Katrina Durham, NC: Duke University Press

*Please note that this module is only available to SPP students. Students taking this course are not permitted to take PUBLG105 Advanced Qualitative Methods.

Related links

Contact us

Contact us

School of Public Policy,
The Rubin Building,
29/31 Tavistock Square,
London, WC1H 9QU.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4999,
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 4978,

Postgraduate enquiries

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4982/4950

Register with us

Register at UCL

New website

Register at UCL

Connect with us


Page last modified on 03 oct 16 11:43

Footer menu