Qualitative Methods in the Social Sciences SOCIO3022

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 3 (SCQF level 9)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course introduces qualitative research methods commonly used in the Social Sciences.


Lecture - Tuesdays 10-11. Two-hour weekly tutorial - times to be confirmed.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

Grade D3 in Sociology 2A and Sociology 2B


Recommended Entry Requirements

Grade D3 in Sociology 1A and Sociology 1B

Excluded Courses




The summative assessment will consist of:

■ Critical Methodological Appraisal (40% of the final mark). Students will be provided with a choice of academic articles which report on research findings, and will be expected to conduct a critical appraisal of the methodological approach taken. The critical appraisal is designed to provide students with the opportunity to critically appraise the overall appropriateness of the research design underpinning a piece of published research. This will involve assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the particular methodological approach adopted in the research, and commenting on its suitability to address the research questions.

■ A Data Analysis Project (60% of the final mark): this is a qualitative project where you are required to identify secondary qualitative data from the UK Data Archive, reflect on the data that you identify and do an analysis of that data, this will include reflecting on the data collection methods and their strengths and weaknesses.



In accordance with the University's Code of Assessment reassessments are normally set for all courses which do not contribute to the honours classifications. For non honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students, and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions are listed below in this box.

Course Aims

The course introduces qualitative research methods commonly used in the Social Sciences. A wide range of qualitative methods will be covered in the course and students will then be able to apply these to your specific discipline.


Topics covered in the course include: ethical issues in qualitative research; interviewing; focus groups; participatory and ethnographic research; content/discourse analysis; oral history and biography; archival research.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ evaluate the use of a range of qualitative research methods and the theoretical background to these approaches;

■ recognise the constraints imposed by the ethical aspects of research design;

■ articulate a research problem and develop a research method to address it;

■ understand the principles of qualitative data analysis;

■ assess qualitative research techniques including the advantages and disadvantages of such techniques as interviews, focus groups and observation and qualitative data analysis methodologies;

■ assess the use of qualitative research methods in the secondary literature.

■ transfer the skills acquired to the workplace context.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.