Master-class September 2024: Focus Groups: Online

This 3 x half-day master-class will provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of how to apply focus group methods for social research. The class establishes the theory and methods of focus group research, it provides techniques for managing challenging groups, and offers participants hands-on experience to ensure smooth and rigorous data collection.


Please note this course will run across the following 3 (half) days:

  • Monday September 23
  • Tuesday September 24 and
  • Thursday September 26


This course is being held online via Zoom and run on Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC +10)

(Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart time)







Monday, September 23, 2024 - Thursday, September 26, 2024
Early bird cutoff date: 
Wednesday, August 21, 2024
Course details:

This master-class gives students a comprehensive understanding of focus group design and moderation. The class establishes the theory and methods of focus group research, it provides techniques for managing challenging groups, and offers participants hands-on experience to ensure smooth and rigorous data collection.



This course is being held 'live' online via zoom and will run across 3 x 1/2 days

The timetable for each of the 3 days will be:

  • 9.30am - 10.45am: session 1
  • 10.45am - 11.00am: Break
  • 11:00am - 12.00pm: session 2
  • 12.00pm - 12.30pm: Lunch break
  • 12.30pm - 1.45pm:  session 3


The course will run on Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC +10)

(Canberra, Sydney Melbourne, Hobart time)

Master Class - runs over 3 days
Course dates: Monday 23 September 2024 - Thursday 26 September 2024

Eva-Maria grew up in the Netherlands and has been working and creating on Wurundjiri land since 2018. Currently she works at the Foundation for Young Australians, where she leads the approach to evaluation and collaborates with program staff to gain useful insights and understand their impact. Prior to this, she worked as a qualitative research consultant at the Social Research Centre and a youth-led consultancy in the Netherlands. She managed complex research projects with people from diverse backgrounds, across many (sensitive) subject matters such as social housing, employment, ethnic profiling, experiences of power (and lack of), sexual harassment and youth participation in policy making.

Eva-Maria has a Masters in Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam.

Week 1
About this course: 

This master-class runs over three half days and will provide participants with an understanding of how to apply focus group methods and practical techniques for social research.

The class will step through the theoretical basis for conducting focus groups, their value limitations and ethical considerations. It will detail how to translate your research questions into an effective discussion guide and how to put that guide into practice using group activities for face-to-face and online groups. The master-class will give participants the opportunity to practice with moderation and developing material for their own research projects (or practice with someone else's future project). The class will also provide practical techniques to set up a safe and engaging (in-person or virtual) group environment, manage challenging group dynamics and covers project logistics and the next steps for data analysis.The workshop is relevant to anyone intending to conduct focus groups. This could include experienced researchers, Higher Degree Research students, government or not-for-profit professionals involved in community consultations, or private sector professionals involved in market research or evaluations.


Course syllabus: 

Day 1

  • Understanding the benefits and limitations of a group based methodology
  • Ethical considerations and data sovereignty
  • Participant selection and group set-up (exercise)
  • Questioning techniques and understanding different types of questions


Day 2

  • Activity ideas for stimulating discussion and data
  • Creating a discussion guide (exercise)
  • Moderation skills and group dynamics, including for online groups
  • Understanding and using non verbal cues
  • Hands-on experience moderating or participating in a focus group
  • Preparing for analysis


Day 3

  • Creating a cultural safe environment in a group setting
  • How to manage sensitive issues, challenging participants and group dynamics (exercise)
  • Project logistics
  • Preparing data for analysis


* The focus of material and exercises will be tailored to student's interests and levels of experience



Course format: 

This workshop will take place online using Zoom video link.

Participants will need reliable internet access and a computer or laptop with a camera.

Participants will require access to MS Word or Google Docs in order to draft a (mock) discussion guide.


The course consists of interactive presentations, hands on activities and discussions.

Recommended Background: 

There are no pre-requisites for this course.

Recommended Texts: 

There is no required pre-reading for this course.

Course fees
Early bird Member: 
Early bird Non Member: 
Early bird full time student Member: 
Non Member: 
Full time student Member: 

Do I need to have experience with qualitative research?
While basic understanding of qualitative research may be helpful, it is not necessary. The instructor will adjust this course to the students’ levels of experience.


Is there any hands-on practice during the course?
Yes, participants will have the opportunity to engage in various practical exercises in which they can apply the theory/techniques to any potential upcoming focus group projects of their own. Activities include: developing a participant selection strategy, creating discussion guides, and practicing with moderation techniques.


What if I don’t have any upcoming focus group projects to use for the activities, can I still take part in them?
Yes absolutely, it’s not a problem if you don’t have a future project you’d like to work on. You can either work on an imaginary project or work with one of your fellow students.


Will I receive any course materials?
Yes, participants will receive handouts, a project checklist, and example discussion guides.



Delivery of this course is online - via Zoom.


Please ensure you have the following:

  • Reliable Internet connection with at least 5Gb per day of data available (i.e. a 5 day course will use about 25Gb of data just on the Zoom application)
  • A computer/laptop with the Zoom application installed (free)
  • A webcam (built in to most laptops)
  • A headset with a microphone (not required but ideal)
  • A second monitor/screen if possible


Please also check the course page for specific software requirements (if any).


Venue and Timetable: 

You will be attending from home, and each course may specify a slightly different timing schedule. Please expect around 4 "contact" hours per day, with the remainder of the usual working day for exercises, group work and self-directed activities.

All times specified are in Australian Eastern Time (Melbourne/Sydney/Canberra time)