The course addresses researchers within the social sciences broadly; sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, political scientists, economists, health researchers, etc., who use or plan to use qualitative methods for their PhD research. Qualitative methods include interviews, document studies, fieldwork, observation, and may be used as stand-alone methods, or in combination with quantitative methods (cf. mixed methods, etc.).
Course description for study year 2020-2021. Please note that changes may occur.
Faculty of Social Sciences
After completing the course, the students should:
have advanced knowledge about key qualitative methods, such as interviews, document studies, fieldwork/ethnography.
have advanced knowledge about methodological positions within qualitative research, especially as regards the theory-data interface (cf. grounded theory, abductive analysis, etc.), and be able to contribute to such debates
be able to evaluate the use of different qualitative methods in the applied analysis of social phenomena, in ways that mirror the status of the research front
be able to navigate complex questions in qualitative methods, and to challenge established methodological positions.
By the end of the course, the students should be able to:
identify methodological implications of specific qualitative methods
produce new knowledge about methodological tools that enables them to plan and conduct interpretive analyses of various data sources such as interviews, conversations, observation, and documents.
reflect critically on methods, and to produce scientific papers on the theme of qualitative methodology, departing from one’s own ongoing research; papers of the near-publishable standard
handle complex methodological implications in ongoing qualitative research.
communicate the results of his/her reflections in speech and writing in a clear and systematic way, and in ways that contribute to moving the research front.
By the end of the course, the student will be able to:
meet social phenomena and theoretical-academic subjects with methodological assumptions that must be a basis for an analysis of the data through research-based production of insight and knowledge.
contribute to social science debates (research front) about the methodological choices one makes in developing and conducting qualitative research
Researchers use the qualitative methodology for a variety of purposes, be it to investigate the meaning ascribed to social and cultural phenomena by individuals or groups, or the construction of meaning/discourse in society at large, to study historical processes, to gather more factual information about enterprises or political processes, etc. Furthermore, we can analyse qualitative data on how they inform us on people's perspectives, information about processes, as well as for the joint construction of meaning between researcher and participant. All this may differ between academic disciplines. This course highlights especially the practical and applied side to qualitative research.
The course will make students acquainted with methodological issues within qualitative research in general. It will help students to frame their respective research studies in a methodologically sound manner and to identify key practical-methodological issues within their studies. Topics include:
Some classical and recent methodological tools for constructing and interpreting qualitative data, by way of interviews, field conversations, written documents, media publications, photos, and observations.
The course will enable participants to reflect critically about crucial practical aspects of qualitative research, regarding access to the field, obstacles in the recruitment of participants, and other practical aspects of carrying out of the research.
The course will also prepare participants to argue epistemologically for the methods they apply in their theses.
Crucially, the course will achieve the above by grounding the discussions and the students' individual papers in methodological reflections about the respective PhD projects.
The course is integrated with PHD101: Research Design, but can also be taken as a stand-alone course.
Required prerequisite knowledge
Participants must be enrolled in a PhD programme.
Eksamen / vurdering
Pass - Fail
The individual paper of 3000 words (+/- 10%) in English on a self-chosen topic approved by the instructor, which departs from the participants’ on-going PhD project. However, the paper must take the form of a contribution to the general literature on methods/methodology (papers that are simply ‘methods chapters’ will not be accepted). The paper must be submitted within six weeks after the end of the course and will be evaluated as Pass/Fail.
Prepare a 1 p. (ca.) note on methodological questions departing from your PhD project, which outlines the planned topic for the course paper. This note must be submitted one week in advance of the course.
Prepare comments to one of the other participants’ note
An individual presentation at the end of the course week. The presentation should be a reflection on the 1 p. note submitted in advance. Students may then highlight elaborations and possible alterations as a result of discussions over the week.
Prepare for individual lectures (see in particular description for Corte’s lecture on academic writing)
Prepare by reading literature
Generally active participation in discussions in general.
Method of work
The course will be given in the form of a one-week seminar; five full days. The first three days will be lectures given by subject teachers (on various themes), the final two will be oral presentations from the individual participants. A detailed timetable will be made available at the beginning of the course-semester.
The course participants are encouraged to contribute to the course evaluation. An evaluation form will be made available to the candidates after the papers are handed in.