Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Qualitative Research

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit provides an opportunity for course participants to design, carry out and report qualitative research projects in psychology. It also allows participants to develop the skills to critically read and evaluate qualitative research projects. The study-unit covers both the conceptual understanding of current academic debates regarding different methods in psychology, as well as the practical skills to put those methods into practice.

The unit will cover:
- ontological and epistemological foundations of qualitative research;
- key qualitative design traditions such as phenomenology; grounded theory; narrative biographical research; ethnography, case study, action research and discursive psychological research;
- classic sources of qualitative data such as interviews, participant observation, focus groups, documentary and historical work; and more novel sources such as photo voice, images and online sources of data such as blogs, social networks etc.;
- data analysis methods: thematic analysis, content analysis; discourse analysis, constant comparative method, induction, matrix analysis, hermeneutical analysis, phenomenological analysis;
- quality indicators: research design, reliability and validity positionality, ethics, writing up and dissemination.

Study-unit Aims:

1. Equip participants with the critical ability to debate current understandings regarding different methodologies in the social sciences;
2. Equip participants with the skills to put various methods into practice;
3. Equip participants to sensitively design, carry out and report research from a qualitative perspective;
4. Equip participants to critically read and evaluate research projects of a qualitative nature;
5. Identify the right design for a particular research question.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- demonstrate critical engagement with the diverse conceptual debates surrounding qualitative research in the social sciences; demonstrate in-depth understanding of the ontological and epistemological
underpinnings of the various qualitative traditions;
- demonstrate a solid understanding of the core methods of qualitative data collection and analysis;
- demonstrate in-depth knowledge of various approaches to distinguish the right methodology for the research question.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- formulate psychological research questions in qualitative terms;
- formulate research proposals with due consideration to the merits of qualitative research and articulate the right data analysis procedure for addressing specific research concerns;
- put qualitative skills into practice;
- effectively collect, analyze and report qualitative data;
- use NVIVO software package;
- critically interpret and evaluate reports of a qualitative nature.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main texts

- Flick, U. (2009). An Introduction to qualitative research (4th ed). London: Sage.
- Creswell, J. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches. London: Sage.

Supplementary readings

- Sammut, G., Foster, J., Salvatore, S., & Andrisano-Ruggieri, R. (2017). Methods of Psychological Intervention. Yearbook of Idiographic Science (Vol. VII). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
- Lyons, E. & Coyle, A. (2007) Analysing qualitative data in Psychology. London: Sage (selected chapters.
- Smith, J., Flowers, P., & Larkin M. (2009) Interpretable Phenomenological Analysis: theory, method and research London: Sage.
- Glaser, B.J., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago: Aldine.
- Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1993). Basics of qualitative research. London: Sage.
- Riessman, C. (1993). Narrative analysis. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
- Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (2003). Ethnography: principles in practice. London: Routledge. (available)
Stringer, E. (2014). Action Research. Curtin: Sage.
- Barker, C., & Galasinski, D. (2001). Cultural Studies and Discourse Analysis: A dialogue on language and identity. London, Sage.


- Qualitative Inquiry
- Qualitative Research
- Qualitative Research in Psychology
- Qualitative Research Journal
- Qualitative Psychology
- International Journal of Qualitative Methods


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 50%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Sharon Attard
Paul A. Bartolo
Marilyn Clark
Lorleen Farrugia
Mary Anne Lauri
Carmen Mangion
Marceline Naudi
Marta Sant

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.