Module code: SOCM006

Module Overview

Qualitative research approaches remain one of the fundamental ways for researchers to access the insights, understandings, and experiences of social groups, as well as to explore their social interactions. 

This module provides students with a systematic methodological basis for conducting various forms of qualitative analysis. The main techniques covered include observation and interviewing, although the module also references related documentary and visual approaches as well as participatory and ethnographic methods. Observational fieldnotes, interview transcripts, and visual images are collected, analysed and reported throughout the course of the module.

Module provider


Module Leader

ROBERTS Tom (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 110

Lecture Hours: 10

Seminar Hours: 10

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 10

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes: 

  • Research Questions and Philosophy of Social Science

  • Methodological Issues and debates in qualitative social research

  • Qualitative Research Design

  • Observational Techniques

  • Observational Analysis

  • Interviewing Techniques

  • Interview Analysis

  • Introduction to Computer-assisted management of data

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Observation exercise (2,500 words) 50
Coursework Interview exercise (2,500 words) 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge-based, analytic and professional skills through the design and conduct of two practical fieldwork exercises, and reporting of them. Each exercise is worth 50% of the assignment weighting. The first exercise concerns the design, conduct and reporting of a small-scale observational project. The second concerns the conduct and analysis of a research interview.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Fieldwork Exercise 1 – Observation – 2500 words 

  • Fieldwork Exercise 2 – Interviewing – 2500 words

Formative assessment

  • Verbal discussion during class contact time


  • Responses to verbal or email questions

  • A one hour assessment and feedback clinic for each exercise

Module aims

  • • Discuss the philosophy and overall conduct of qualitative social science research
  • • Communicate the skills and techniques involved in observational data collection
  • • Address techniques in the analysis of observational data
  • • Discuss interviewing skills and techniques
  • • Address the skills and techniques required in the qualitative analysis of action, narrative and interaction
  • • Cultivate reflexivity in approaches to qualitative research
  • • Communicate an appreciation of the role of documents, images and objects in qualitative analysis
  • • Discuss methodological issues in bias, reliability, validity and ethics in qualitative social science research
  • • Review the role of computer-assisted qualitative data analysis

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate a critical and comprehensive understanding of the principal forms of qualitative data collection C
002 Demonstrate an understanding of key methodological issues and debates in qualitative social science research K
003 Have direct independent practical experience of two principal forms of qualitative data collection, and have reported on them PT
004 Demonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of qualitative data analysis KC
005 Demonstrate an understanding of systematic analytic procedures and relevant related computer software CPT

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: 

Give students a thorough grounding in the background to and relevant techniques of qualitative social science research. The learning strategy is designed to uncover and address the most common qualitative research techniques, provide opportunities for practical skills learning, and provide resources on which to base an understanding of the methodological debates and issues in such research. This module on qualitative methods is one in a suite of modules across the programme deigned to give students knowledge-based and practical learning in research methods skills more widely, towards research professionalisation.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • One hour lecture x 9 weeks

  • One hour practical exercise and/or discussion x 7 weeks

  • One 2 hour CAQDAS seminar

  • One 1 hour assessment clinic

  • Surreylearn resources and discussion

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: SOCM006

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Social Research Methods MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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 2025/6 academic year.