Qualitative Research Methods for Global Public Health

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The overall aim of the course is to provide the students with an understanding of the basic assumptions underlying qualitative research and the practical application of qualitative research methods in global public health.

The course gives an introduction to the knowledge tradition in which qualitative research is embedded and to the concepts that are integral to qualitative research. It gives an overview of qualitative research designs and presents various qualitative research methods and approaches. Different approaches in coding and analysis of data obtained from qualitative research will be demonstrated and practiced in exercises.

The course includes both didactic and practice sessions in the classroom. Students will design a mini research project and will apply qualitative methods in a fieldwork research exercise.

The main topics covered

  • Theoretical foundation of qualitative research methodology
  • Characteristics of qualitative research, their strengths and limitations
  • Research designs / Strategies of inquiry
  • Data collection methods: In-depth interview, Focus Group Discussion and Participant observation
  • How to design a qualitative research project
  • How to develop interview / topic guides
  • How to analyse qualitative data
  • How to report findings
  • Confidentiality issues and informed consent
  • Rigour and trustworthiness in qualitative research

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student is able to:

  • Recognize the assumptions about knowledge generation underlying qualitative research
  • Explain the general principles of qualitative research
  • Define a research question that needs a qualitative research approach
  • Describe the main data collection methods (interviews, focus group discussions and observation) and the rationale for their use
  • Restate the principles of qualitative content analysis
  • Explain challenges of confidentiality and informed consent
  • Discuss how to assess trustworthiness in qualitative research reports


The student is able to:

  • Design a small scale qualitative research project
  • Develop interview guides
  • Conduct in-depth interviewing
  • Transcripe interviews verbatim
  • Apply the principles for coding and qualitative content analysis
  • Appraise the strengths and limitations of qualitative research
  • Apply the principles for appraising the trustworthiness of quality research

General competence

The student is able to:

  • Apply knowledge and skills in qualitative research in other projects
  • Communicate results from qualitative research and master the language and terminology of the qualitative research tradition

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Proficiency in English at a level corresponding to TOEFL 550 (paper-based) or 213 (computer-based) or IELTS band 6.0 is expected and basic knowledge of qualitative research methods.
Access to the Course
Students enrolled in the master programme in Global Health, students enrolled in similar programmes at UiB or other partner universities (e.g. tropEd Network for Education in International Health).
Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods:

A combination of lectures, seminars, practice sessions and individual and group exercises.

Extent of organised teaching:

Student investment time: 136 hours

Pre-course reading 10 hours

Contact hours 36 hours (lectures, seminars)

Group work 50 hours

Individual study time 30 hours

Written assignment 10 hours

Organisation of teaching:

Week 1:

  • Daily lectures, discussions and practice sessions in the classroom
  • Group work to define research question, develop tools for the mini research exercise and recruit informants
  • Individual home exercises and readings

Week 2:

  • Group work on data collection and transcription of interviews for the mini research exercise
  • Lectures, discussion and practice sessions on analysis of data
  • Group work on coding and analysis of data from mini research exercise

Week 3 (5 days):

  • Group work on analysis and write-up
  • Group presentations of mini research exercise
  • Individual reflections on methodological challenges in the mini research exercises
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Attendance 80% compulsory in seminars and assignments

Individual assignments: Rich description exercise, making an interview guide and practice interviewing

Group assignment: Planning, conducting and reporting a mini qualitative research

Forms of Assessment
  • Group report from the mini research exercise (weighted 75%) (20 minutes power point presentation in class and uploaded on Mitt UIB)
    This assessment is used for evaluation of the group's knowledge and understanding of qualitative research, and how to apply this knowledge to design, carry out, analyze, report and appraise the research.
  • Individual report on own role and methodological challenges in the mini research exercise (weighted 25%).
    This assessment is used for evaluation of the individual student`s knowledge and understanding of the principles of qualitative research and how to appraise trustworthiness.
  • Grading Scale
    ECTS credits A-F (F = fail)
    Assessment Semester
    Reading List
    The reading list will be made available on Mitt UiB