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Qualitative Methods in Health and Medicine DHV210

Course description for study year 2021-2022

Course code




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Offered by

Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences

Learning outcome

The following learning outcomes will be achieved after completion of the course:
The PhD candidate will:

  • have advanced knowledge of qualitative research, methodologies and methods, with a focus on addressing research problems in health and medicine
  • can evaluate the applications and appropriateness of different methods and processes in qualitative research
  • contribute to developing new knowledge, theory, methods, interpretations or forms of documentation in the field of qualitative methods in health and medicine
  • have advanced knowledge of concepts and issues related quality appraisal in qualitative research, including associated scholarly debates and tensions

The PhD candidate can:

  • Formulate research problems, plan and carry out qualitative research projects of international scholarly standards
  • Handle complexity in qualitative research and challenge established knowledge and practice in the field
  • Critically reflect on the choice of qualitative methods for answering different research problems in health and medicine, and assess
  • Critically reflect on the role of the qualitative researcher in health and medicine, including knowledge of researcher subjectivity, reflexivity and research ethics

General competence
The PhD candidate can:

  • Identify relevant ethical tensions and issues and carry out qualitative research with scholarly integrity
  • Can manage complex assignments and projects
  • Engage analytically through individual introspection as well as shared interdisciplinary discussion and reflection on concrete projects and basic or tacit assumptions, concepts, discourses and practices in qualitative research in health and medicine
This course aims to advance PhD candidates understanding of qualitative methods for research in health and medicine. Qualitative inquiry has a longstanding and well-established place in e.g. social science research but represents a more recent research approach and knowledge paradigm in health and medicine. Correspondingly, qualitative research in health and medicine is sometimes viewed by ‘hard scientists’ as being at odds with the dominant positivist outlook in the clinical practice fields. Through this course the PhD candidate is first provided with a broad historical overview of qualitative inquiry as a dynamic and complex knowledge field beyond health and medicine. Subsequent activities hone in on "real life" research in health and medicine, inviting critical reflection, peer review, shared discussions and analytical skills at an advanced level. Through co-created learning, the course actively engages PhD candidates in a group to explore individual and shared experiences and knowledges. Key topics and tensions in qualitative research for health and medicine are presented and debated, including quality appraisal and research ethics, with the aim of developing the candidate’s understanding and competency to conduct methodologically sound research.
Examples of topics:
  • Qualitative research approaches, designs and methods for data collection and analysis in health and medicine
  • Paradigmatic differences between social science and natural science research in health and medicine
  • Coherence between theory, methodology and methods, exemplified by "real life" research projects
  • Reflexivity and researcher subjectivity
  • Potentials and pitfalls in practice-near or participatory qualitative inquiry
  • Research ethics for qualitative inquiry
  • Quality appraisal of qualitative research
Required prerequisite knowledge
Master level within medicine, health sciences, societal safety, social science, or similar educations. Candidates who have no previous experience with qualitative research methods from their Master’s Degree may be offered additional basic reading material in preparation to allow for fuller degree of informed participation in this advanced course.
Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Individual paper 1/1 Pass - Fail

• Individual paper of 5000 words (-/+ 10%) on a self-selected topic approved by the course coordinator
• List of self-selected literature (approximately 500 pages) to be submitted together with the individual essay
• The paper will be assessed as Pass/Fail

Coursework requirements
  • Presentation of research projects, course literature and ideas for essays in seminars and discussion groups
  • Preparation of a short abstract (approximately 250 words) on a self-selected research topic to be addressed in the individual essay (to be approved by the course coordinator)
  • Compiling a list of self-selected literature (approximately 500 pages) relevant for the individual essay
Course teacher(s)
Course coordinator: Birgitta Haga Gripsrud
Course teacher: Ellen Ramvi
Method of work
The working methods of the course will vary, depending on the number and composition of participants, as well as according to the preparedness associated with the current pandemic which may merit digital teaching methods. The methods include lectures, group/individual presentations, supervision, essay writing, presentation of research data, critique and defense. Overall, the course is based on a seminar model with discussion groups promoting students’ active learning. Candidates and invited lecturers present material which can initiate discussion and critical reflection related to the course outline and curriculum. A detailed timetable will be made available at the beginning of the semester.
Open for
PhD candidates enrolled in PhD programmes at the University of Stavanger (Faculty of Social Sciences and Faculty of Health Sciences) or accredited universities/university colleges in Norway or abroad.
Course assessment
Ongoing face to face informal dialogue with participants and a final formal electronic evaluation form, according to UiS regulations.
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