The goal of this course is to provide students with knowledge and skills that will enable them to become confident and competent practitioners of qualitative methods of social research. The course will focus on qualitative methods that collect data from interactions with the research participants, both in physical and virtual environments: interviews, focus groups and ethnographies.
The course is intended for students with basic knowledge of qualitative methods who will expand this knowledge with reflections and practical exercises on advanced issues that they are likely to be encounter at different levels of preparing and conducting qualitative studies: from proposing the study for approval, funding and ethics evaluation to the qualitative fieldwork and the evaluation of the qualitative study's outcomes.The course will put the greatest emphasis on the practical elements in the process of preparing a feasible and a reflexive qualitative research proposal that can withstand external evaluation both in terms of methodology and ethical considerations.
To this purpose, the students will prepare mock funding and ethics' applications that will familiarize them with the type of research proposals they might encounter in their future careers. In the course of preparing these applications, the students will be asked for an in-depth considerations of the practical and ethical challenges they might plausibly encounter in their own fieldwork, and they will need to propose feasible solutions and contingency plans for their proposed qualitative fieldwork, as the latter frequently involves a high degree of uncertainty and demands the skills of adaptation.
In light of practical focus of the course, it will be of greatest use to students who already have a research project they wish to develop further. Nevertheless, even the students who currently only have a research idea will be able to apply the skills obtained in the course to turn their research idea into a high-quality qualitative research proposal. Ultimately, the knowledge and skills obtained in the course are intended to equip the students to competently and independently deal with practical issues of conducting qualitative research with human participants, and to be able to confidently present and defend their research decision-making process when faced with an external consideration and evaluation.