Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module BUSI4W215: Qualitative Research Methods I

Department: Business School (Business)

BUSI4W215: Qualitative Research Methods I

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • As specified in Special Regulations

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Familiarise students with the underlying rationale for advanced qualitative research;
  • Introduce students to a range of advanced qualitative research methods and forms of analysis (i.e., focus groups, observation, participant observation, structured and unstructured interviewing, archival and documentary analysis);
  • Provide opportunities for students to develop and extend their skills in the practical application of advanced qualitative data analysis techniques.


  • Introducing qualitative methods
  • Causation
  • Identifying an appropriate research project
  • Case study methods
  • Validity and reliability
  • Ethnography and participant observation
  • Analysing documents, conversation analysis
  • Interviews
  • Focus group research
  • Analysing qualitative data

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • have gained an understanding and critical awareness of the nature and scope of advanced qualitative research within business and management;
  • be able to critically review scholarly literature in the qualitative tradition within business and management and be able to provide a critique and discuss issues relevant to their own research;
  • be aware of and sensitive to the ethical aspects of qualitative research;
  • have developed knowledge of the social, political and practical context and uses of qualitative research.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • be able to effectively organise, structure and manage a complex qualitative research project at an advanced level, including undertaking critical appraisal of relevant literature, and apply critical judgement and discrimination;
  • be aware of, and familiar with, the facilities available for conducting specialised qualitative research and obtaining relevant data to facilitate empirical investigation;
  • have developed skills in the use of at least one qualitative data analysis software package;
  • have developed the ability to operate independently on a specialised research topic and exercise appropriate judgement in the selection of material;
Key Skills:
  • have the ability to critically review a specialised area of knowledge and apply it in complex situations;
  • have the capacity for sustained independent work and learning at an advanced level and the ability to learn through critical reflection on practice and experience;
  • be able to think independently, including problem-solving ability and the ability to operate and exercise appropriate judgement in complex and specialised contexts;
  • be able to organise complex sets of data, abstract meaning from information, and communicate the results to peers, making appropriate use of Communication and Information Technology;
  • have the ability to accept a high level of personal responsibility, including an ability to evaluate and resolve any ethical dilemmas which may arise, in research and professional practice.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • A combination of lectures, seminars and group work will contribute to achieving the aims and learning outcomes of this module. Summative assessment by two written assignments will test students' ability to design a research project applying what they have learned in the module. These seek to test the ability of the student to identify relevant research issues and questions, critically assess relevant research literature and apply appropriate analytical techniques.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 10 Weekly 3 hours 30
Preparation and Reading 120
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written assignment 1500 words maximum 50%
Written assignment 1500 words maximum 50%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment, and feedback, may take a number of forms such as oral feedback on work prepared by students for workshops; answers to questions discussed during workshops, or posted on DUO; discussions with teaching staff during consultation hours, or via e-mail.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University