Qualitative Research in (Higher) Education (DUH240)

The course is offered partially on web-based platforms in the form of a hybrid course (online+F2F), and we will primarily use Canvas as the course management system. Course materials (e.g., syllabus, weekly readings, and announcements) will be available on the Canvas site, which will provide interaction and discussion opportunities. The Canvas site is also an important medium for accessing course updates and announcements.

Course description for study year 2023-2024. Please note that changes may occur.


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start

Spring, Autumn

Number of semesters


Exam semester

Spring, Autumn

Language of instruction



The course introduces PhD students to qualitative research methodology and aims to promote knowledge of qualitative research to generate in-depth inquiry in the field of (higher) education. The course also emphasises relevant theories, methods, and qualitative research practices to develop knowledge, skills and competence to engage in planning, conducting and writing up qualitative inquiry.

The course requires critical reading of suggested resources to prepare for in-depth theoretical discussions about qualitative research, qualitative research topics, qualitative designs, data collection strategies, and approaches to data analysis. To this end, the students identify and elaborate on different approaches within qualitative designs and develop qualitative research skills described in the course content through step-by-step, hands-on, and interactive activities. The course will also help develop individual and collaborative qualitative research skills, thus enhancing the ability to create practical as well as theoretical knowledge.

The following broad questions will guide the course:

1. What is qualitative research, and why is it important?

2. How are qualitative research methods chosen and employed?

3. What types of questions initiate qualitative research studies in (higher) education?

4. What are the preliminary assumptions that guide qualitative research in general, and in (higher) education in particular?

5. What are the different types of approaches and methods?

6. What are the analytic techniques used by qualitative researchers?

7. What are some methods and frameworks of discussion?

8. How do qualitative researchers write up and disseminate research?

Course Expectations and Requirements:

- Graduate level performance is expected from all students. At this level, it is assumed that students are, to a great extent, responsible for their own learning. Therefore, the relevant assignments are to be fully and carefully completed PRIOR to the class.

- Class attendance and quality in-class participation is expected.

- Students should complete all assignments on time. All out-of-class assignments should be typewritten, unless otherwise stated. Late submissions will not be accepted.

- Students need to manage their own learning to ensure coverage of the syllabus.

- Students are strongly encouraged to seek regular feedback about their study through face-to-face or online tutorials.

Academic Honesty:

Plagiarism: Students who take this class are urged to avoid plagiarism, i.e., intentionally presenting words, ideas or work of others as your own work. Plagiarism includes copying others’ ? homework, using a portion of or a complete work written or created by another without crediting the source, using your own work completed in a previous class for credit in another class without permission, paraphrasing another’s work without giving credit, and using others’ ideas without giving credit.

Remember: Making references to the work of others strengthens your own work by granting you greater authority and by showing your participation discussion located within an intellectual community. When you make references to the ideas of others, it is essential to provide proper attribution and citation. Failing to do so is considered academically dishonest, as is unacknowledged copying or paraphrasing someone else’s work. The consequences of such behaviour will lead to consequences ranging from failure on an assignment or the course to dismissal from the university. Please ask if you are in doubt about the use of a citation. Genuine misunderstandings can always be prevented or corrected.

The course is taught in English.

Learning outcome


By the end of the course, the student will be able to:

  • understand the major approaches to qualitative research in education
  • analyse fundamental theories that underline research paradigms
  • explain the principles underlying the use of qualitative research methods
  • justify qualitative research processes in terms of robustness and rigor


By the end of the course, the student will be able to:

  • identify and design research topics for a detailed examination of phenomena
  • develop research questions through qualitative methods.
  • engage in procedures regarding design, participants, and context
  • collect and analyze data from various and multiple methods
  • synthesize and integrate multiple data sources
  • write up an individual or collaborative qualitative report
  • plan, conduct, and evaluate qualitative research as professional development


By the end of the course, the student will be able to:

  • develop an understanding of key terms and contemporary issues in qualitative research in (higher) education (e.g., reflexivity, voice, authority, representation, credibility, trustworthiness and ethics.
  • develop a critical lens through which to address educational issues
  • induce data-driven interpretations to inform educational practices
  • gain insights into the challenges of qualitative research

Required prerequisite knowledge



Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Written assignment and oral exam 1/1 Passed / Not Passed

The final evaluation consists of a 20 minute oral exam, online or face-to-face. The exam starts with a 10 min verbal presentation of a self-chosen qualitative research design using a particular approach which includes thick description of context, participants, data collection and analysis as well as validity issues, and proceeds with a collegial discussion about the project. The exam is assessed (pass/fail) with constructive feedback.

Coursework requirements

Active participation in lectures and seminars with at least 75% attendance and completion of written small-scale assignments are expected during the course.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Kenan Dikilitas

Method of work

The course is offered partially on CANVAS platform in the form of a hybrid course (online+F2F). Course materials (e.g., syllabus, weekly readings, and announcements) is available on the CANVAS site, which also provides opportunities for communication - access to course content, updates, and announcements as well as submission of the given assignments.

The course consists of lectures led by course tutors and seminars based also on student-led discussions. A detailed timetable and syllabus is made available to the course participants at the beginning of the semester.

Open for

The course is designed and offered to PhD-candidates in higher education as well as those in the Faculty of Arts and Education and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stavanger. PhD candidates in programs at other universities and research institutions may also register for the course.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course coordinator, the student representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital course evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


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