PUB HLTH 7078 - Qualitative Research Methods In Health

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2016

Qualitative research is concerned with exploring how people interpret and give meaning to their everyday worlds. This type of research is central to how we come to understand population health issues, as it provides historical and socio-cultural contexts for health and illness. This course comprises an introduction to the skills to review and conduct qualitative research. Students will learn how to recognise and reflect on the strengths and limitations of different qualitative research methodologies, understand the links between theory and practice, critically assess qualitative research, and address ethical and practical issues involved in conducting qualitative research. The course takes a step-by-step approach to the design and implementation of qualitative research and includes: formulating a qualitative research question; collecting, managing, and analysing qualitative data; writing and presenting qualitative findings; conducting ethical research, including writing ethics proposal for qualitative research projects.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 7078
    Course Qualitative Research Methods In Health
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact 3 hours per week plus online activities
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Incompatible NURSING 7002HO, PUB HLTH 7078OL
    Assessment Group assessment and assignments
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Annette Braunack-Mayer

    Course Coordinator: Professor Annette Braunack-Mayer
    Phone: +61 8313 4637
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace

    Course Coordinator: Teresa Burgess
    Phone: +61 8313 3468
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace

    Learning and Teaching Team
    Phone: +61 8313 4637
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Outline the contribution to, and characteristics of, qualitative research in health
    2 Demonstrate the capacity to make informed ethical decisions about the conduct of qualitative research
    3 Recognise and describe the major theoretical perspectives and principled which inform qualitative research
    4 Identify the major research methods used in qualitative research, and critique the advantages and disadvantages of each
    5 Demonstrate skills in the practical dimensions of qualitative research, including designing a research activity, conducting interviews and observations, analysing and reporting on qualitative data
    6 Analyse key concepts, issues, and dilemmas associated with qualitative research.
    7 Review and critique qualitative research studies
    8 Use terminology for the field of qualitative research correctly and contextually with appropriate referencing
    9 Demonstrate ability to work and communicate effectively with others regarding qualitative research
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1, 3, 6-8
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    2, 5, 6
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    2, 3, 6
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Liamputtong, P. (2013) Qualitative research methods, 4th edn. Oxford University Press: Melbourne.

    The prescribed text is integral to the course and may be purchased from Unibooks:
    The University of Adelaide
    ADELAIDE SA 5005
    Phone: +61 8 8223 4366 Toll free: 1800 182 003
    Fax: +61 8 8232 7315

    Other essentials readings will be available in electronic format through MyUni.
    Recommended Resources
    Online Learning
    Access Adelaide
    Access Adelaide is the name of the online service that allows students to access and, in some cases, amend their records. It can be found at:

    Students can log into Access Adelaide to view:
    · their enrolment details for any term
    · their academic results
    · their unofficial academic transcript
    · their personal details
    · the fees, charges and payments on their University account
    · their exam schedule
    · their graduation eligibility details.

    Students can:
    · change their address and telephone details (please inform the School as well)
    · change their password
    · set a password clue to help them remember their password.

    Student email
    Students should set up a university email and check it regularly. Information from the course coordinator and student administration   will be sent via the University of Adelaide email address. It is the student’s responsibility to check their email. Students will need their  student number located on their student card to log in.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course focuses on the research methodologies and methods used to collect, manage, analyse and report on qualitative data.   The course is delivered in blended mode.  Lectures, readings and activities will be available on-line and supported by 2 hours of face-to-face workshops per week.  We expect that students will view all on-line lectures, readings and activities before attending   the workshops each week. Students will undertake practical work to help them understand the theory and principles underlying   qualitative research and how to conduct qualitative research (including data collection and analysis).  They will explore specific issues and dilemmas associated with using qualitative research.  They will also develop a portfolio of various resources designed to  broaden understanding of the topic and any relevant technology. 

    Lectures/tutorials and practicals will be supported by group work and opportunities to provide feedback on other students’ work.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    In general, about 4-5 hours of independent study will be required each week, in addition to class time. This includes viewing  lectures, reading set papers and materials, and undertaking activities The work on assignments will be greater as the due date  approaches. Therefore, some allowance will be made in class time for students to complete aspects of some assignments.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The course will cover the following content:

    What is qualitative research?

    Why and how do we do qualitative research?

    Theoretical approaches and principles

    Sampling, observation, interviews, focus groups, analysing texts, coding, thematic analysis, presenting findings Research with  Vulnerable Populations

    Cross-cultural & Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples research

    Using mixed methods Rigour and Validity, Critical Appraisal

    Ethics in Qualitative Research

    Specific Course Requirements
    Students should have access to a reliable network connection.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Assignment 1 Summative 10% 2, 3, 7
    Group Assignment 2 Summative 15% 1, 2, 4, 6, 9
    Assignment 3 Summative 30% 1, 2, 4, 5, 6
    Assignment 4 Summative 25% 1, 2, 4, 5
    Assignment 5 Summative 20% 1-8
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Assessment Detail
    Assignment 1 (10%): Introductory theory and ethics
    Each student will be assigned a qualitative research paper and asked to identify and comment on the theoretical perspective and key ethical issues apparent in the paper.

    Group Assignment 2 (15%): Vulnerable populations
    Students will be allocated into groups to discuss and present issues associated with a ‘special population.’ Students will identify  issues associated with conducting qualitative research with their population, focusing on the potential ethical sensitivities, reference to the NH&MRC guidelines, and practicalities involved. Groups may use online asynchronous or synchronous discussion  tools (e.g., MyUni discussion boards, webchat, Collaborate, or Skype, depending on student preferences and availability) to  coordinate activities and create a short presentation summarising salient issues.

    Assignment 3 (30%): Collecting data
    Students will collect data in two ways: a ten minute semi-structured interview and field notes based on non-participant observation  for one hour.  Students will submit the recording of the interview and the field notes, together with a 1250 word  commentary comparing and contrasting the experiences and the data obtained through each method.

    Assignment 4 (25%): Coding and analysis
    Students will be required to code and thematically analyse a provided transcript, providing a short introduction referring to relevant  previous research, and concluding with a summary.(1500 words)

    Assignment 5: (20%). Critical Appraisal
    Each student will submit a written critical appraisal of a nominated article (1000 words). 
    All extensions for assignments must be requested, at the latest, by the last working day before the due date of submission.   Extensions will generally be granted only on medical or genuine compassionate grounds.  Supporting documentation must be  provided at the time a student requests an extension.  Without documentation, extensions will not be granted.  Late requests for  extension will neither be accepted nor acknowledged.

    Only the Course Co-ordinator(s) may grant extensions.

    Supporting documentation will be required when requesting an extension. Examples of documents that are acceptable include: a  medical certificate that specifies dates of incapacity, a police report (in the case of lost computers, car & household theft etc.), a  letter from a Student Counsellor, Education and Welfare Officer (EWO) or Disability Liaison Officer that provides an assessment of  compassionate circumstances, or a letter from an independent external counsellor or appropriate professional able to verify the  student’s situation.  The length of any extension granted will take into account the period and severity of any incapacity or impact  on the student.  Extensions of more than 10 days will not be granted except in exceptional circumstances.

    Late submission
    Marks will be deducted when assignments for which no extension has been granted are handed in late.

    All assignments, including those handed in late, will be assessed on their merits.  In the case of late assignments where no  extension has been granted, 5 percentage points of the total marks possible per day will be deducted.  If an assignment that is 2  days late is awarded 65% on its merits, the mark will then be reduced by 10% (5% per day for 2 days) to 55%.  If that same  assignment is 4 days late, the mark will be reduced by 20% (5% per day for 4 days) to 45%, and so on.
    The School of Public Health reserves the right to refuse to accept an assignment that is more than 7 days late.

    Assignments submitted after the due date may not be graded in time to be returned on the listed return dates.

    Students submitting examinable written work who request (and receive) an extension that takes them beyond the examination  period are advised that there is no guarantee that their grades will be processed in time to meet usual University deadlines.
    If a student is dissatisfied with an assessment grade they should follow the Student Grievance Resolution Process  <>.  Students who are not satisfied with a particular assessment result should raise their concerns with Course Co-ordinator(s) in the first instance.  This must be done within 10 business days of the  date of notification of the result.  Resubmission of any assignment is subject to the agreement of the Course Co-ordinator(s) and  will only be permitted for the most compelling of reasons.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.