NOT OFFERED SPRING 2017 - Advanced Qualitative Research Methods

Course content

This course is intended for participants with some prior knowledge and experience of qualitative methods and an interest in deepening their engagement with methodological debates and expanding their range of skills. The course is designed to help participants develop and advance their knowledge of debates about philosophical approaches to research in public health, including the relative merits of, and relationship, between positivist, interpretivist and post-structural research. The course is fundamentally an academic course, which aims to equip students with the knowledge to sensitively and critically design, execute and report on qualitative research.

During the course participants will work individually to develop a study protocol, which can serve as the foundation for dissertation research or a research proposal. The course is therefore structured around key themes in a study protocol, introducing key methodological debates and considerations. The themes will be introduced in three parts: i) Thinking qualitatively; ii) Generating data; and iii) Telling a convincing story.

The first part of the course introduces participants to some of the epistemological assumptions underpinning qualitative research and their relationship to different qualitative study designs. It also looks at the instrumental role of researcher motivation and theory in framing and designing a qualitative study.

The second part of the course introduces participants to a variety of methodological debates related to i) the  qualitative interview; ii) focus group discussions; iii) participant observation; and iv) visual methods. There will be a focus on generating data in multicultural venues. The aim is to spark reflection on opportunities, challenges and socio-ethical dilemmas related to each of the four methods. Participants will be expected to include two qualitative methods in their study protocol.

The third and final part of the course equips participants with frameworks to critically appraise the quality and rigour of a qualitative study. It also debates strategies for condensing qualitative data, including the use of computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software, and discusses different strategies for reporting on qualitative data.

The relative merits of, and differences between positivist, interpretivist and post-structural approaches to qualitative research will be discussed throughout.


MSc Global Health

MSc Public Health Sciences

Master of Public Health

Learning outcome

After the course, students will be able to:


  • Explain and account for three different qualitative research approaches, namely the positivist, interpretevist and post-structural approaches.

  • Provide an account of the benefits, limitations  and socio-ethical dilemmas pertaining to  individual and group interviews; focus group discussions; participant observation; and visual methods

  • Describe the relative relationship between a qualitative research approach, design, theory, research question and researcher motivation and background.

  • Identify and summarise the role of theoretical concepts in qualitative research

  • Critically appraise a qualitative study

After the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify a research problem (problem statement) and develop a relevant research aim and question(s)

  • Critically reflect on how researchers shape research findings

  • Critically appraise different qualitative data collection methods

  • Categorise, index and reduce data using computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software

  • Develop a research protocol

After the course, students will be able to:

  • Apply important concepts and principles of qualitative research to the study of contemporary public health issues

  • Independently design and plan a qualitative study

  • Discuss ethical implications of public health research

Lectures and class teaching

Introductory qualitative research training, such as the course Kvalitative metoder at the BSc in Public Health Science or similar.

Type of assessment
Written assignment, 7 dage
Oral examination
The examination consists of 7 day written assignment with two parts. Part 1: The study protocol (10 pages) is the centrepiece project and is meant to apply the course learning into a qualitative study protocol on a topic of interest to the participant. Part 2: An essay (5 pages) on a topic relevant to the course. Participants will expected to submit the assignment individually.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

To achieve the maximum grade of 12, the student must be able to:


  • demonstrate understanding of different research approaches and ability to locate their study within these approaches.

  • justify and explain the research approach, study design and ‘analytical gaze’ guiding the study.

  • reflexively discuss how they, as researchers, will shape the generation and analysis of data.

  • critically justify methods chosen in the protocol and their relationship to the study design.

  • pinpoint key strengths and limitations of the study methods in relation to your study.


  • Locate the proposed study within existing literature, highlighting its potential contribution.

  • develop a relevant research question that can be investigated qualitatively.

  • use literature to justify, explain and debate their decisions in the study protocol.

  • align a chosen research approach, study design, research question and methods.

  • identify and discuss socio-ethical issues relevant to their research project.

  • master key principles and concepts of quality of qualitative research for public health.


  • Plan a qualitative study.

  • Communicate effectively key considerations in a study protocol.

  • Analytical ability to argue for the relative merits of, and differences between, positivist, interpretivist and post-structural approaches to qualitative research.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 30
  • Preparation
  • 104
  • Exam
  • 141
  • English
  • 275