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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Researching Health & Policy: Qualitative Approaches (Online Learning) (PGSP11518)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course introduces students to qualitative research methods as applied to the study of health and health policy. The course takes students 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. From this, students will gain an understanding of the variety of qualitative research methods and potential sources of data available, 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

As with Researching Health & Policy: Quantitative Approaches, this course is taught entirely on-line in a virtual learning platform called Learn. The course is delivered through short lecture clips, podcasts and pre-recorded lectures. There are weekly readings and students engage with the material through on-line asynchronous discussion boards as well writing activities across the semester. On-line tools are provided with instructions to complete these tasks.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
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 an introductory chapter or entry outlining the week's method, the second will be an empirical paper or article 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 introductory 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 and 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 secretaryMs Maria Brichs
Tel: (0131 6)51 3205
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