School of Environment, Resources and Development, (SERD)

ED52.9008 : Selected Topic: Qualitative Research Methods  2(1-2)
Course Objectives:

The course aims to equip students with knowledge, skills and techniques in designing and conducting qualitative research. Qualitative research captures in-depth and subtle phenomenon and changes regarding human behavior and experiences that quantitative methods cannot explain well, and provides important context to our understanding. The course is designed for students who wish to familiarize themselves with qualitative research, and attempts to guide students toward conceptualizing, designing, and conducting qualitative research as well as analyzing and writing papers based on qualitative data. 

Learning Outcomes:
The students on completion of this course would be able to:
        Understand the principles of qualitative research
        Distinguish strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research
        Formulate qualitative research design
        Conduct qualitative research and analyze collected data.


Course Outline:
I.        What is qualitative research
1.    When to use qualitative method in social research
2.    Characteristics of qualitative research
3.    Types of qualitative research method

II.       Organizing field work
1.    Preparation for data collection
2.    Reflexivity for a qualitative researcher
3.    Research ethics and qualitative research

III.       Qualitative social research methods and tools
1.    Interviews
2.    Ethnography
3.    Focus group discussion
4.    Case study
5.    Life history
6.    Discourse analysis
7.    Using photos and videos
8.    Action research
9.    Other methods

IV.      Analyzing data
1.    Coding
2.    Seeking patterns/ themes
3.    Interpreting
4.    Synthesizing

V.       Writing and presentation
1.    Writing an academic paper based on qualitative research
2.    Paper structure
3.    Review process
4.    Dissemination of findings

Laboratory Sessions:



No designated textbook, but class notes and handouts will be provided.


1.      Cresswell, John W. (2014) Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, Sage publication.

2.      Punch, K.F. (2014), Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, London: SAGE.

Reference Books:
1.      Battacherjee, A. (2012) Social science research: Principles, methods, and practices. Textbooks collection, Book 3. (
2.      Bloomberg, Linda Dale and Marie Volpe (2008) Completing your qualitative dissertation: A roadmap from beginning to end, Sage publication.
3.      Emerson, Robert M., Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw (1995) Writing ethnographic fieldnotes, The University of Chicago Press.
4.      Laws, Sophie with Caroline Harper and Rachel Marcus (2003) Research for development: A practical guide, Sage publication.
5.      Lichtman, Marilyn (2014). Qualitative research for the social sciences, Sage publication.
6.      Rubin, Herbert J. and Irene S. Rubin (2005) Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data, Sage publication.
7.      Wichramasinghe, M. (2010) Feminist research methodology: Making meanings of meaning-making, Routledge. 
Journals and Magazines:


Time Distribution and Study Load:
Mixture of lecture and discussion (20 hours) and classroom exercises (20 hours). This needs to be supplemented by self-study of students (30 hours). 
Teaching and Learning Methods:

In order to allow students to master the methods, hands-on exercises together with lecture will be introduced. 

Evaluation Scheme:
         Individual assignment I               - 30% (used as mid-term grade)
         Individual assignment II              - 30%
         Final examination (closed book) - 30%
         Participation                                - 10%
“A” will be awarded if a student can develop excellent research design and master the various research methods and analysis, “B+” will be awarded if a student can develop research design and demonstrate sufficient understanding of research methods and analysis, “B” will be awarded if a student demonstrate acceptable understanding of research methods and analysis, “C+” will be awarded if a student demonstrate some understanding of research methods and analysis, “C” will be awarded if a student’s understanding of research methods and analysis is below standard, and “D” will be awarded if the student does not meet the basic expectation in the understanding of research methods.