Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Researching Health & Policy: Qualitative Approaches (PGSP11492)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course introduces you to qualitative research methods as applied to the study of health and health policy. The course takes you practically through several key methods, some of which may be useful in later dissertation work. These include: understanding qualitative approaches to research, analysing policies and texts, and interviews, focus groups and observational/evaluation research. The course is designed to allow students to hone methods skills during class time. As such, the course will be structured in a blended learning model you will engage with a short video lecture and some online materials before class, and each 2-hr workshop will be focused upon developing practical methodological skills. From this, you will gain an understanding of the variety of qualitative research methods and potential sources of data available to you, and develop an awareness of practical and ethical issues associated with various forms of research.
Course description 1) Academic description

This course provides students with an introduction to qualitative methods, as used in the study of health and health policy. The introduction to the course focuses on basic epistemology, and particularly aims to encourage students to consider the link between research questions/aims, methods, and forms of analysis. Following this, each week of the course introduces a set of related research methods which can be used to capture or interrogate a single form of data. Upon completion of the course, students will gain a familiarity with various qualitative approaches to research, have practiced aspects of these approaches within workshops, and have considered ethical and practical implications of qualitative research in relation to questions posed in the health policy field.

2) Outline content or syllabus

- Doing Research This week focuses on: (1) Constructing health policy research questions and (2) How to find the appropriate research method for your question.
- Text: This week examines approaches to analysing textual data, allowing students to recognise the uses of documentary sources and understand and apply various documentary analysis techniques.
- Policy: This week focuses on understanding and applying different forms of policy analysis.
- Talk: This week involves understanding approaches to interviews and focus groups within health and health policy settings.
- Observation and Evaluation: This week examines approaches to (participant) observation and/or qualitative approaches to the evaluation of health programmes, policies, or intervention.

3) Student learning experience

This course is run in a flipped classroom set-up. For weeks 2 to 5, students will attend each 2hr workshop session having engaged with the online materials (lecture and sometimes short activity, plus reading related to workshop). This work takes the place of the introductory lecture for each week. In the workshop session itself, every week will differ, with each activity aimed at deepening understanding of the weeks method (e.g. a discourse analysis of part of a policy document, a paired activity where students mock interview each other on a general topic etc.).

From this, students will gain an understanding of the variety of qualitative research methods and potential data sources available to them, insights into the types of research questions such methods/data can address, an awareness of practical and ethical issues associated with various forms of research, and an understanding of where to access further information on methodological approaches when needed.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  47
Course Start Block 1 (Sem 1)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 88 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) As this is a 10 credit course there will be a single component of assessment:
Methodological Reflection 2500 words 100%
Students will produce a paper interrogating how a research question can be answered through a chosen research method. In so doing, students will: 1.) Refine a research question from a choice of set topics; 2.) Outline how the chosen research method can address the research question; 3.) Assess the strengths and limitations of the chosen method in answering the research question, and; 4.) Briefly assess and ethical or practical challenges associated with the approach.
Feedback As this is a short 10-credit/5-week course, there will be a single component of formal assessment, as outlined above, which will be submitted after the completion of teaching.

Informal formative feedback will occur through each workshop session and in guidance & feedback hours.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the links between research questions, research methods, and forms of qualitative data analysis
  2. Demonstrate a critical awareness of a range of qualitative methods used in health policy research
  3. Critically assess the strengths and limitations of different methodological traditions and approaches
  4. Consider and assess the practical and ethical implications of various research methods and contexts
  5. Critically evaluate empirical studies that use qualitative research approaches to health and health policy
Reading List
Along with links to recommended online resources, students will be required to complete two essential readings for each week. The first will be a text-book type chapter outlining the weeks method, the second will be an empirical paper or chapter where that method has been used in health policy/health social science research. As examples of the second category will change regularly, examples of more text-book type readings are provided below.

Becker, H. S. (1998) Chapter 4 Concepts in: Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research While Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Fairclough, N. (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis. Boston: Addison Wesley

Green, J. and Thorogood, N. (2018) Chapter 7 Observational Methods in Qualitative Methods for Health Research. London: Sage

Silverman, D. (2015) Chapter 2 What You Can (and Can't) Do with Qualitative Research in Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook. London: Sage
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop a range of cognitive and communicative skills including:
- Ability to critically analyse and interpret qualitative research
- A critical understanding of a range of data source sand methodological tools used in qualitative research
- Applying specialised methods knowledge to the creation of research projects
- Effective communication skills
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sudeepa Abeysinghe
Tel: (0131 6)51 5471
Course secretaryMrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information