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FASS610-FASS616 and FASS630 A Series of Sessions on Qualitative Methods in the Social Sciences


Module description

Format and ways of participating in this 'module'

This is not a module in the conventional sense, but a series of sessions introducing you to the main research methods used in the social sciences. Each session addresses a specific method, such as ethnography, interviews or text analysis. Some methods are introduced in one session (2 hours), others in 2 sessions (2 x 2 hours, offered in consecutive weeks). Sessions are independent of each other and it is up to you to choose which topics you are most interested in and which sessions you would like to attend. Note though that if a topic is introduced over two sessions, you should attend both.

There are two ways of participating in this 'module'. You can either choose the sessions you are interested in and attend just these. Please note that you need to register for each session that you would like to attend. Some of you may wish to attend all sessions. MA or PhD students who wish to participate in the assessmentare required to attend all sessions, and should register for FASS510 rather than for the individual sessions.

Overview of the sessions (to be confirmed):

  • FASS610: Introduction to Qualitative Research (week 11)
  • FASS611: Ethnography & Participant Observation (weeks 12-13)
  • FASS612L: Interviewing as a Research Technique (weeks 14-15)
  • FASS613: Visual Methods in the Social Sciences & Humanities (week 16)
  • FASS614: Validity, Reliability & Generalisabilty in Qualitative Research (week 20)
  • FASS615: Focus Groups (week 18)
  • FASS630: Action Research, Autoethnography and Other Creative Methods (week 19)
  • FASS616: Text Analysis for Social Scientists (week 17)

Places on the sessions are limited to 40. All applicants will be contacted towards the end of Michaelmas Term to check whether they still wish to take the sessions they registered for and whether they have any specific reasons for needing to take them in the current year. It will be assumed that those who do not reply by the date specified no longer wish to take their sessions. Places will be allocated in the following order of priority: Masters students taking all sessions as an assessed element of their degree; FASS students; students who need to take specific sessions this year (for example because they will not be at Lancaster next year); first-year students; order of date of receipt of application. Those who are unsuccessful in getting on the sessions this year will, however, be given priority for 2013-14.

As places on the sessions are limited, please inform the RTP Administrator as soon as possible if you no longer wish to take it, so that your place can be offered to another student.


Aims and objectives

The sessions are aimed at MA and PhD students, who are planning to use or simply wish to learn more about qualitative methodologies, techniques and data. The sessions aim to provide an overview and introduction to the range of qualitative methods used in the social sciences. It is suitable for students who already know something about qualitative research as well as for those who are mostly familiar with quantitative methods. Individual sessions deal with research methods such as participant observation, interviews, focus groups and textual analysis. The module will include some analysis of the epistemological assumptions underlying qualitative research but this is not the major focus. Each session will draw on examples from different studies and there will be time for students to share and discuss their own research. The sessions do not cover data analysis.

Each session has its own specific learning outcomes relating to the topic dealt with. For example, at the end of the two sessions on interviews, students are expected to be familiar with the main types of interviews used by qualitative researchers, to be able to identify some of the challenges of interviewing as a research technique and to judge the suitability of interviews as a research method for a specific project.

The more general learning outcomes for the series of sessions are as follows:

  • to be familiar with different qualitative research methods
  • to be able to identify the advantages and challenges of different methods
  • to have an idea about how research questions and topic relate to research methods
  • to be able to describe in writing the methods they use in their own research and to discuss their strengths and weaknesses


Reading list

Davies, C. A. (2008), Reflexive Ethnography, 2nd Ed. London, Routledge.

Davies, M.B. (2007), Doing a successful research project: using qualitative or quantitative methods. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

Fetterman, D.M. (2010), Ethnography: Step-By-Step, 3rd Ed. Los Angeles, Sage.Flick, U. (2007). Designing qualitative research. London: Sage.

Hennink, M., Bailey, A. & Hutter, I. (2010), Qualitative Research Methods, London, Sage.

King, N. & Horrocks, C. (2010), Interviewing in Qualitative Research, Los Angeles, California, Sage.

Kvale, S. (2007), Doing Interviews, London, Sage.

Saldana, J. (2011), Fundamentals of Qualitative Research, Oxford, Oxford University Press.


Timing and Location




13/01/15 - 17/03/15

Number of sessions:

10 x 2 hour sessions

Timing and Location:

Tuesdays, weeks 11-20, 10.00-12.00

Weeks 11-15: George Fox Lecture Theatre 4

Weeks 16-20: Bowland North Seminar Room 10


Additional information

Other staff involved: Karenza Moore, Applied Social Science; Karin Tusting, Linguistics

Minimum quota: 6. Maximum quota: 40

Charge to non-FASS departments:

  • FASS510: £444
  • FASS610, FASS613, FASS614, FASS615, FASS616, FASS630: £44
  • FASS611, FASS612: £89


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