Module code: SOCM080

Module Overview

In this optional module on the MSc in Social Research Methods, students will gain theoretical knowledge and practical experience of the iterative research cycle when undertaking qualitative projects. Using one of the leading digital tools for managing qualitative research projects; NVivo, students will learn how to manage research projects and their analytic work at every stage. They will delve into key considerations in designing projects and implementing analytic plans; from contextualising studies within the relevant literature, through setting research questions effectively, situating studies within appropriate methodological contexts and understanding the implications of doing so, designing appropriate data collection instruments, choosing and applying analytic methods that suit the objectives through the creative and systematic use of NVivo, and collating insights to present an authoritative, trustworthy and engaging narrative of findings for different audiences. The course strengthens core skills needed for qualitative or mixed methods dissertations; and; as one of very few MSc programmes globally that integrates bespoke digital tools for qualitative analysis into methods training, it provides a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Module provider


Module Leader

SILVER Christina (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 14

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 8

Guided Learning: 14

Captured Content: 8

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

 Indicative content includes:

  • Qualitative research in the wider landscape

  • Analysis in the digital research workflow

  • The role of methodology in qualitative research

  • Making the most of data

  • Harnessing the power of NVivo

    • NVivo features, components and tools

    • Analytic planning in the context of NVivo use

    • Setting up an NVivo project to reflect initial analytic design

    • Representing conceptual frameworks using maps

    • Exploring data qualitatively and quantitatively: word frequency, text search and annotations

    • Conceptualising tools: coding, memoing, linking

    • Organising tools: cases, attributes, sets & search folders

    • Interrogation tools: coding queries, matrix coding queries, crosstabs, charts


  • Analytic strategies:

    • What are methods for?

    • Interpretative phenomenological analysis,

    • Grounded Theory,

    • Thematic analysis,

    • Content analysis,

    • Discourse analysis


  • Operationalising analytic strategies in NVivo

    • Coding strategies

    • Integrating data in a single project

    • Organising data

    • Managing interpretations through writing and mapping

    • Interrogation and visualization tools


  • Collating insights and presenting a narrative for different audiences

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Research design concept map 20
Oral exam or presentation Research design concept map presentation 5
Coursework Qualitative data analysis exercise: NVivo project 50
Coursework Qualitative data analysis exercise: Report of findings 25

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessments offer students the opportunity to demonstrate that they can 1) work within and across different methodological standpoints with an understanding of how these affect research design and analysis 2) that they can evidence choices around research design using both visual tools and oral presentation skills; 3) that they can fully implement and interpret a qualitative data analysis using an established analytic strategy, with a transparent analytic process evidenced in NVivo.


  1. The summative assessment for this module consists of four elements:Research design concept map assessment: Students will choose between 3 existing studies via which to put into practice the principles learned in Lectures 1-3. They will re-design the project to answer the research question from an alternative methodological standpoint. In doing so, students will need to illustrate how taking a different stand-point may lead to learn differently about the concepts of interest and shape appropriate choices of data to be gathered for the study. 20% of total assessment.


  1. Research design concept map presentation assessment: The research design developed in 1) will be represented within NVivo using a concept map and students will present this map in a short presentation (5 mins). 5% of total assessment.


  1. Qualitative data analysis exercise: NVivo project: Students will select from 2 sets of sample qualitative data, and choose one or more of the analytic methods covered in the course to apply to the chosen dataset in order to answer set research questions. The analysis will be evidenced by submitting an NVivo project containing relevant components, that illustrate the process concretely and transparently.


  1. Qualitative data analysis exercise: Report of findings: Students will evidence their findings from 3) in a compound memo within NVivo that contains: a preliminary answer to the set research question(s) written in narrative form appropriate to the chosen analytic  method of; reflections on any limitations of the findings; reflections on the challenges of undertaking the analysis that includes discussion of the role of digital tools throughout the workflow.


Formative assessment and feedback

The summative assignments are linked to formative assessment and feedback that occurs throughout the module. Students are tasked with exercises related to workshop content that allow them the opportunity to embed their theoretical learnings in the practical context of the use of NVivo, and receive informal feedback on their work in preparation for the summative assignments, and their dissertations where they plan these to have a qualitative of mixed-methods element.

Module aims

  • Understand the qualitative research cycle- planning and managing the iterative and cyclical nature of qualitative analysis
  • Develop confidence in the use of innovative digital tools, with a focus on NVivo- plan and implement a digital workflow that makes creative and innovative use of cutting-edge technologies
  • Contextualise qualitative analysis in the wider landscape- research topics and objectives, reviewing the state of the art, developing research questions
  • Unpack the role of methodology- underlying paradigms and assumptions, differences between methodologies and methods and making appropriate choices
  • Consider the ethics of working qualitatively- involving participants, analysing their accounts and representing their contributions, inclusively and with integrity
  • Implement qualitative analytic strategies in real-world research- focusing on the techniques of IPA, Grounded theory, Content Analysis, Thematic Analysis, Discourse Analysis
  • Collating insights and presenting a narrative- frame dissemination inclusively and appropriately for diverse audiences, to visualise and represent the accounts of others with integrity
  • Prepare for undertaking qualitative analysing in the workplace- skills for successful collaboration and sharing within applied and academic analysis workflows

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify opportunities for integrating digital tools within the qualitative analytic workflow K
002 Translate research questions into analytic plans CPT
003 Contextualise planning, analysis and reporting of findings within existing bodies of knowledge CK
004 Distinguish and separate analytic strategies and software tactics CP
005 Understand why qualitative researchers make use of NVivo¿s tools KP
006 Develop technical competence in the architecture, functioning and flexibility of NVivo KPT
007 Contextualise qualitative analysis methods within the methodological spectrum, and understand the implications on analytic practice CK
008 Harnessing and integrating the full range of materials available to contemporary researchers for high-quality innovating qualitative inquiry CKP
009 Implement thematic analysis, Grounded Theory, IPA, content analysis and discourse through the use of NVivo CKPT
010 Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different qualitative analytic methods C
011 Ensuring findings relate to research questions through the systematic and creative use of digital tools for interrogating and visualising patterns and relationships CKT
012 Communicate the process and findings of qualitative analysis for different audiences PT
013 Appropriately fulfil analytic tasks using NVivo in the context of a given research project in individual and team contexts CKT
014 Designing and implementing analytic workflows appropriate to collaborative and applied inquiry KT

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 provide participants with a thorough understanding of and confidence in harnessing NVivo tools for analytic tasks as a project progresses, in the context of different analytic methods.

 The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures 

  • Demonstrations

  • Hands-on workshops

  • Small group work

  • Independent study

  • Group discussion and feedback

  • Use of worksheets designed to plan and implement an analysis in NVivo

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: SOCM080

Other information

The Department of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in digital capabilities, employability, global and cultural capabilities, resourcefulness and resilience and sustainability. The MSc programme in Social Research specifically develops these strengths with a view to preparing graduates for careers in social research. This module aims to develop students’ grasp of a set of key skills and awareness to underpin their future research. In particular, it supports students to develop in the following key areas.


Digital capabilities. Use of appropriate software and access to digital resources are essential for the contemporary social researcher. This module supports students to develop skills to make thoughtful use of software used in support of qualitative research. The focus on the digital research workflow generally, and detailed engagement with NVivo specifically, will enhance students’ capability to understand the rapidly evolving digital landscape in relation to qualitative analysis, that stands them in good stead beyond their studies. 


Employability. The module aims to develop skills that are highly significant in the workplace for a social researcher making use of qualitative analysis. NVivo is one of the leading qualitative software programs, with a long-established developmental history, which is widely used across academic, applied, government sectors for social research projects. The practical skills learnt in this module are fully transferable for these contexts, and will bolster students’ employability in this regard. In addition, the focus on team-working using digital tools like NVivo provide students with practical skills that will facilitate undertaking social research in real-world, applied contexts.


Global and cultural capabilities. In its focus on qualitative analysis the module encourages students to think critically and reflexively about the foundations of qualitative research and the role of the researcher in formulating robust and reliable findings. This is placed in a broad methodological context within this course which enables students to see the value of qualitative social research within global contexts.


Resourcefulness and resilience. Qualitative research relies on being responsive to the unique qualities of each dataset, and each research situation brings its own challenges. Students are encouraged to respond to these challenges, to be reflexive about their assumptions and to see themselves as engaged in a process of continual development of their skills as qualitative researchers.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Social Research MSc 2 Optional 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.