Module code: SOC1026

Module Overview

This module introduces students to qualitative field methods including unstructured and semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and participant and non-participant observation. Lectures will explore the particular insights generated by qualitative field methods as well as the problems and possibilities that researchers employing these methods encounter. Students will gain experience in designing, collecting, producing, and analysing their own data.

Module provider


Module Leader

ADAMS Maria (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

JACs code: X210

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 127

Lecture Hours: 12

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Why use qualitative field methods?

  • Ethnographic approaches to the social world

  • Observation methods and reflexivity

  • Ethical issues in conducting fieldwork

  • Designing research and finding participants

  • Researcher and researched relationships

  • Qualitative interviewing process and focus groups

  • Managing and coding qualitative data

  • Analysing and interpreting qualitative data

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their in-depth understanding and to apply their knowledge of qualitative field methods in relation conducting social research.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • One observation and reflection report. This is a 1500 word report based on the student conducting an observation of a public space, discussing what they observed and reflecting on the process of doing the observation. It takes place early in the module (by week 5) and while the grade for this counts as part of the overall grade the feedback on this assignment allows more formative input for students’ second assignment.

  • One interview and analysis report. This is a 1500 word assignment based on students selecting a topic and conducting two individual interviews or one group interview in relation to this. The interview material is transcribed and coded and the findings identified and discussed with reference to existing research/literature in the topic.

Module aims

  • To provide an overview of the qualitative field methods used within sociology, media studies and criminology, especially qualitative interviewing and ethnography;
  • To introduce students to the practical and epistemological problems involved in conducting qualitative field methods;
  • To provide students with experience in conducting and writing about qualitative field research.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Understand key methodological issues in qualitative field methods; KCP
2 Become familiar with designing and conducting research around a research question; KCP
3 Be able to carry out collection of primary qualitative data and write reports on the findings and analysis of the data; KCP
4 Develop a reflexive and self-critical perspective on their research; KCPT
5 Appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of different qualitative field methods. KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to reflect the programme’s key learning and teaching aims by:

  • Developing students’ in-depth understanding of key methodological issues in qualitative field methods approaches;

  • Developing students’ ability to recognise and evaluate the appropriateness and the advantages and disadvantages of a range of qualitative field methods approaches;

  • Developing students’ in-depth knowledge and familiarity with current debates and issues about ethics, sampling, analysis, and interpretation in qualitative research

  • Developing students’ knowledge, experience and confidence in using a range of qualitative methods approaches

  • Developing key study skills that relate to employability.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures (1 hour per week)

  • Seminars (1 hour per week)

  • Class exercises

  • Class discussions

  • Independent study

Each session focuses on one aspect of qualitative field methods. Sessions are split between lectures which aim to provide a broad introduction to a topic and seminars which are focussed on activities and application of knowledge as well as aiming to allow more in-depth discussion of key issues. Interaction between lecturers, tutors and students is encouraged throughout.

Each session has one piece of primary reading which all students are expected to read. This reading provides the basis for the activities and class discussions. Additional reading is strongly encouraged too.


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOC1026

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Media and Communication BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.