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Qualitative Research Methods (Coursera)

In this course you will be introduced to the basic ideas behind the qualitative research in social science. You will learn about data collection, description, analysis and interpretation in qualitative research. Qualitative research often involves an iterative process. We will focus on the ingredients required for this process: data collection and analysis.

You won’t learn how to use qualitative methods by just watching video’s, so we put much stress on collecting data through observation and interviewing and on analysing and interpreting the collected data in other assignments. Obviously, the most important concepts in qualitative research will be discussed, just as we will discuss quality criteria, good practices, ethics, writing some methods of analysis, and mixing methods. We hope to take away some prejudice, and enthuse many students for qualitative research.

Qualitative Research Methods is course 2 of 5 in the Methods and Statistics in Social Sciences Specialisation.



Philosophy of Qualitative Research

Welcome to the first week of the course. We start with an introduction, followed by two lessons on the Philosophy of Qualitative Research.

Graded: Assignment A: Is Silverman right?



In the first module we discussed the philosophy of qualitative research, explaining some basic notions and general philosophical approaches. In this second module we’ll discuss observation as an important method within qualitative research. What types of observation are there? How do we observe? And how do we analyse and describe our data?

Graded: Assignment B: Observing on waiting around the world: Privatising Public Space


Good Practices & Criteria

What makes qualitative research ‘good’ is a rather difficult question. Different criteria are suggested, but within the field of qualitative research there is not much agreement on these criteria. However, there is quite some agreement on what good practices of qualitative research are. In this module we will start in lesson 1 with a discussion of good practices of qualitative research.

Graded: Midterm exam


Qualitative Interviewing

In this module we’ll look at what a qualitative interview entails by trying to define it and by discussing different forms of interviewing behaviour.

Graded: Assignment C Interviewing about Happiness around the world


Qualitative Analysis

In previous modules we discussed how you should observe a social situation or conduct a qualitative interview. Now we will focus on what to do with your data, by discussing qualitative analysis. In this module you will try to do a qualitative analysis by interpreting your observed data and try to code it.

Graded: Assignment D: Analysis of Privatising Public Space around the world


Writing, mixing & ethics

In this module I will discuss ideas on writing in qualitative research, I will discuss mixing methods and talk about the ethical issues you should consider.

Graded: Assignment E: Writing about Happiness around the world


Catch up week

In this module there’s no new material. The only requirement in this module is that you finish up the final peer review assignment.


Exam week

This is the final module, where you can apply everything you’ve learned up until now in the final exam. Please note that you can only take the final exam once every day, so make sure you are fully prepared to take the test.

Graded: Final Exam