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Master 2019/2020

Methodology and Research Methods in Sociology: Qualitative Research Methods

Type: Compulsory course (Comparative Social Research)
Area of studies: Sociology
Delivered by: School of Sociology
When: 1 year, 2 module
Mode of studies: Full time
Instructors: Lili Di Puppo
Master’s programme: Comparative Soсial Research
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4

Course Syllabus


The course aims to introduce students to the use of qualitative methods in sociological research. The students will learn the basic fundaments of qualitative inquiry from research design to data collection and analysis. They will be introduced to practical skills in qualitative data collection, including interviews, participant observation and writing field notes. In addition to methods for gathering data, they will learn the fundaments of qualitative data analysis, for example how to interpret interview data, and how to identify and relate salient pieces of data to theory. Finally, students will engage in self-reflection on their position as researcher in the field and on the research process itself, for example ethical considerations that may arise during field research.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Learn the basic fundaments of qualitative inquiry
  • Learn the concept of reflexivity in qualitative research
  • Learn how to design a qualitative research
  • Understand the different methods used in qualitative research
  • The student is able to design a qualitative research project by selecting appropriate qualitative methods
  • The student can select and use appropriate qualitative methods to answer his/her research question
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • the student is able to design a qualitative research project by selecting appropriate qualitative methods
  • the student can select and use appropriate qualitative methods to answer his/her research question
  • the student possesses the skill to conduct ethnographic fieldwork and gather data in the field
  • S/he can frame a theoretical problem into a qualitative inquiry
  • She/he can reflect on his/her position as a researcher
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • SESSION TWO: What is qualitative inquiry?
    In this session, the emphasis will be put on the positioning of the researcher in qualitative approaches as well as the central role of reflexivity in the research process. Philosophical assumptions and worldviews underlying qualitative inquiry will be studied.
  • SESSION THREE: Qualitative inquiry and research design
    This session will examine how to design a qualitative research proposal. The different components of a proposal will be discussed from the definition of the research problem and the formulation of a research question to the selection of cases and settings, the choice of methods to study the problem and the literature review.
  • SESSION FOUR: Field research
    This session will introduce the concept of fieldwork and examine how to gain access and rapport in the field in order to adopt an “insider” perspective. It will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the “insider” and “outsider” perspectives.
  • SESSION FIVE: Conducting interviews
    This session will discuss sampling strategies, types of interviews and how to conduct various types of interviews.
  • SESSION ONE: Introduction
    The first session will introduce the main basics of qualitative research and lay out the course plan and requirements for student participation. Some first observations on qualitative inquiry and the particularities of the qualitative approach in the social sciences will be discussed.
  • SESSION SIX: Qualitative Data Analysis
    In this session, the relation between data collection and theory-building in qualitative research will be discussed. How can data be analysed in order to relate it to a theoretical framework? How does the researcher “move up” from raw data to analytical concepts?
  • SESSION SEVEN: Presentation of observation reports and analysis
    This session will be devoted to the presentation of individual observation reports by groups of students. The students will discuss their individual observation reports and their analysis of observation data in groups in order to establish comparisons.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Written assignment
  • non-blocking Observation report
  • non-blocking Class participation
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.1 * Class participation + 0.5 * Observation report + 0.4 * Written assignment


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Being There Field
  • Dilemma Qualitative Method
  • Fundamentals of Qualitative Research
  • Interpretation and Method
  • Qualitative Interviewing

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Creswell, J. W. (2014). Educational Research: Pearson New International Edition : Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (Vol. Fourth edition, Pearson new international edition). Harlow, Essex: Pearson. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1418055
  • Taylor, S. J., DeVault, M. L., & Bogdan, R. (2016). Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods : A Guidebook and Resource (Vol. 4th edition). Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1061324