Introduction to Qualitative Research: Online

This is an introductory unit for individuals with limited or no previous experience with qualitative traditions or techniques of inquiry.


This course will run over the following face-to-face sessions each day:


  • 10.00 am to 11.30pm
  • 12.00pm to 1.30pm
  • 2.30pm to 4.00pm

Preparation will be required before each Zoom session, which will involve reading, watching, or listening to short sources.


One-on-one consultations will be available at the end of course upon request.



Level 1 - runs over 5 days
Dr Emma Mitchell is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. She is an experienced teacher and has taught undergraduate, postgraduate, and intensive Bloc mode courses at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University. Emma has designed and convened undergraduate and specialist courses on qualitative inquiry in the social sciences and conducted qualitative research across multiple ARC and partner-funded projects. Emma's research is concentrated on social policy and the study of everyday life, with an emphasis on cultural diversity in welfare and housing.
About this course: 

In this course you will learn about the foundational elements of qualitative research and how they are interrelated. We will unpack the key components of qualitative research design, including the stances and theories that underpin qualitative methodologies, as well as techniques of data collection and analysis. We pay particular attention to what’s involved in ethically employing popular methods such as interviewing and observation. We also address the practical and ethical considerations of online methods, given the growing uptake of remote research during the coronavirus pandemic.


The course combines short lectures covering foundational issues with practical workshops that give you a chance to practice qualitative techniques first-hand.


The target audience for this course is those who would like to become more familiar with qualitative research techniques, from postgraduate university students and staff, to researchers in government and private organisations.


Course syllabus: 

Face-to-face sessions from 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm each day


Day 1

  • Situating qualitative inquiry in the social sciences.
  • Designing qualitative methodologies: frames, methods, and issues.
  • The politics and ethics of qualitative research.



Day 2

  • Situating the researcher in the field: the researcher as instrument.
  • Planning and conducting in-depth interviews: forms of interview, rapport, phrasing questions, probing.
  • Group interviews: composition, structure, facilitation.



Day 3

  • Observational practices: forms of observation, what to look for, writing field notes.
  • Unobtrusive methods: access, interpretation, online data.
  • Online research methods: doing research in a pandemic, tools, engaing participants



Day 4

  • Handling data: an iterative approach, preliminary data analysis, data storage.
  • Data analysis: inductive logic, generating meaning.
  • Using computer software in qualitative analysis.
  • Coding systems and cycles. Thematic analysis.



Day 5

  • Analysis continued: Discourse analysis
  • Writing up: The purpose of qualitative writing.
  • Presenting data: audience and purpose/ voice and style.
  • Criteria for assessing good qualitative research.
Course format: 

This course will run 'live' via zoom. You will be sent a zoom invitation prior to the start of the course.


Course content and activities will be facilitated using Moodle, which is an interactive learning platform, and 2 x 2 hour face-to-face Zoom sessions per day. Participant will be given a Moodle login before the weekly program begins. Preparation is required before each Zoom session, which will involve reading, watching, or listening to short sources.


One-on-one consultations will be available at the end of course upon request.



Recommended Background: 

There are no prerequisites for this course.


Recommended Texts: 

Other reading that may be useful:

  • Creswell, J. (2016) 30 Essential Skills for the Qualitative Researcher, Sage: Thousand Oaks.
  • Tracy, S.J. (2013) Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting evidence, crafting analysis and communicating impact, Wiley-Blackwell: West Sussex.



Q. Do I have to have had any qualitative or quantitative research experience to do this course?

A. No, this is an introductory course and no prior knowledge is required.


Q: Do I have to complete coursework outside of the face-to-face Zoom sessions?

A: Yes, key components of the course are delivered as short video lectures and other pieces of text and audio-visual media, available on the course Moodle page. You will be invited to raise questions and comments about this material during face-to-face sessions and informed when it will be used as the basis of group discussion or activities.

Participant feedback: 

Emma was an excellent teacher! (Summer 2021)


I was happy with the experience - the timing of the sessions was well considered in terms of length and timing during the day. The teacher's use of short videos as lectures and additional reading as a supplementary tool was also well considered and I thought it worked well. The use of online resources to facilitate interactive sessions also worked well. The only thing I miss from the online is the casual conversations over breaks and lunches etc but you need to weigh that up against the benefits of not having to travel and the flexibility provided by online course. Overall I thought online worked very well for me. (Summer 2021)


I may recommend this course (to) all the postgrad students at the beginning state of their commitment in research, for the realisation what kind of skills will be required to develop later. This course is excellent to a student to be introduced to the coming difficulties. (Summer 2021)


New to Qual Research, so coming with a clean state. Leaving feeling that I am competent to commence projects to offer knowledge within a team structure. (Summer 2020)


Applied learning, individually and in group setting. Allowed sharing of ideas, encouraged group participation. Theory supported by practical exercises, include different learning studies. (Summer 2020)


Excellent practice combined with theory & awesome teacher! (Summer 2019)


Consolidated prior knowledge, allowed for discussions regarding research projects, allowed an understanding to develop beyond what had been read in texts. (Summer 2019)


We had equal balanced of lectures discussions group activity, individual activity, interactions (Spring 2018)



The course gave me great understanding of qualitative aspect of my research how to do interviews, how to do analysis. (Spring 2018)

Program where course next likely to be offered: 
Online Summer Program 2022

The instructor's course notes will serve as the course text.

These will be posted to your 'shipping address' in advance.