Qualitative research methods for global public health - Online

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The course is taught on-line and aims to provide a space for students in global health to engage in critical assessment and application of qualitative research methods in a scientifically rigorous manner. The course gives an introduction to basic concepts and assumptions in qualitative research, qualitative research designs, and various approaches to data collection and analysis. 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 methodologies
  • How to design a qualitative research project
  • Data collection methods: In-depth interview, Focus Group Discussion and Participant observation
  • How to develop interview / topic guides
  • How to analyse qualitative data
  • How to report findings
  • Research ethics, confidentiality 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

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 admitted to a Master's Degree Programme may join this course (e.g. tropEd European Network).

Other eligible students from other masters programmes

Teaching and learning methods

Web-based lectures (reading web-based texts, videos, small exercises) 35%.

Participation in moderated discussion boards 20%. Groups of students will be given questions for discussion, and a moderator/teacher will participate in each discussion for a limited period of time.

Group proposal development exercise. Students will study in teams to develop a mini research project proposal. Help and advice will be given to the groups of students from the professor during this process 10%.

Group mini research exercise: Students will study in teams to formulate, design, develop and carry out a small qualitative research project using one or more of the methods discussed in the course. Students will analyse the results together, and deliver presentations during the final session of the course 35%.

Total: 125 hours SIT

  • Individual studies of web-based lectures (text reading, videos and small exercises/quizzes): 45 hours
  • Participation in web-based discussions in groups of student, moderated by professor: 20 hours
  • Assignments of 60 hours:
  • Development of a project proposal for research, together with a team of students (10 hours)
  • Development of a mini research report from a mini research exercise performed by a team of students (40 hours)
  • Development of a written individual reflection report (10 hours)
Forms of Assessment

Portfolio assessment:

  1. Counts 20%: A group mini research project proposal: A word document of minimum 400, maximum 600 words plus appendices including informed consent form and data collection tools.
  2. Counts 40%: A group mini research report: A word document of minimum 1500, maximum 2500 words.
  3. Counts 40%: Individual report on methodological challenges in the mini research exercise: A word document of minimum 1000, maximum 2000 words.
Grading Scale


Assessment Semester
Reading List
To be published by July 1 for the autumn semester and January 1 for the spring semester
Course Evaluation
Every three years