Introducing Qualitative Health Research (QUAL5005)


This course is perfect if you're a beginner and want to gain an overview of this research approach. It offers a more compact version of PUBH5500 (the more advanced course includes teaching on the history of qualitative research; philosophical principles including ontology, epistemology, methodology and reflexivity; teaching on five popular methodologies; and research ethics). The introductory course can be taken via a workshop format or entirely online.

Over the course of the unit we will address: What is qualitative research? How is it different from quantitative research? What research questions can it answer? How do I design a qualitative study? What are the different (and best) ways to generate data? How do you analyse qualitative data? How are theories used in qualitative research? What is good quality qualitative research? Can I generalise qualitative findings?

Learning activities: You will get practical experience and skills through carrying out an observation, participating in a focus group, conducting an interview, analysing your own interview data, arguing for qualitative research in health, and appraising the quality of published literature. This introductory Unit will give you the skills and confidence to begin evaluating qualitative literature and doing qualitative research for yourself.

Teaching staff: Dr Julie Mooney-Somers leads the course with experienced industry practitioners teaching into the program. In previous years guest lecturers have included:

  • Associate Professor Stacy Carter on the history of qualitative research
  • Dr Peter Sainsbury on the place of qualitative research in health provision (Director, Population Health, Division of Population Health, Sydney Local Health District)
  • Associate Professor Ian Kerridge on research ethics
  • Dr Rowena Forsyth on observation as a data collection method

You’ll also hear from active qualitative researchers working in research institutions and in the non-governmental section via the popular 'Meet the Researcher' sessions.


The course is designed to provide you the experience and skills you need to begin evaluating and doing qualitative research for yourself.

Learning outcomes:

  • Describe the characteristics and value of qualitative research
  • Understand and apply the principles underlying qualitative study design
  • Understand and apply qualitative data collection principles
  • Evaluate your data collection skills
  • Understand qualitative data analysis principles
  • Analyse qualitative data at an introductory level
  • Evaluate the quality and contribution to knowledge of published qualitative literature
  • Argue for the value and usefulness of qualitative research

Instructional Format

The course can be taken face to face or online.
➣ The face to face format comprises two three-day workshops (9am -5pm) run approximately three weeks apart. Workshops are usually run Friday and Saturday/Monday.
➣ The online format comprises weekly online lectures and activities for ten weeks.


The face to face course runs:
Friday, 18 March 2016
Saturday, 19 March 2016
Friday, 15 April 2016
Monday, 18 April 2016

The online course runs:
26 February to 15 May 2016


Workshops are held at the Camperdown campus, University of Sydney.

Application Deadline

31 January 2016; late applications may be accepted.

Course Fee

Professional development students: $1,500
Short course (non-award) students: $2,291

Enrolment options


Option 2: FORMAL ENROLMENT AND CREDIT (‘non-award’)

➣ Simple enrolment

➣ Short course fee applies

➣ No assessments

➣ No credit towards a University of Sydney degree

➣ Certificate of completion but no academic transcript


➣ Comprehensive enrolment

➣ Fee charged at pro-rata rate of relevant degree fee

➣ Assessment tasks must be completed

➣ Can apply for credit towards relevant U of Sydney degree

➣ Academic transcript



Enquiries can be directed to the teaching administrator, .