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 (Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney) 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 (Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney)
  • 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 (Director, Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) & Staff Haematologist, Royal North Shore Hospital)
  • Dr Rowena Forsyth on observation as a data collection method (Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney)

You’ll also hear from active qualitative researchers from research institutions and working in the non-governmental section via the very 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 via a face to face or online format.
The face to face format comprises two three-day workshops (9am -5pm) run approximately three weeks apart. Workshops are usually run Friday, Saturday and Monday.
The online format comprises weekly online lectures and activities for 10 weeks


Friday 20 March 2015
Saturday 21 March 2015
Friday 17 April 2015
Monday 20 April 2015


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

Application Deadline

24 February 2015

Course Fee

$1,000 (including GST) for a professional development student. If you take this option you:

  • are not required to complete assignments (you can but we will not mark them);
  • you will receive a certificate of completion but no academic transcript; and
  • you cannot use this course as credit towards a University of Sydney degree.

If you are interested in an alternative enrolment where you complete assessments, receive academic transcript and can use this course as credit towards a University of Sydney degree then you should apply for entry into this unit of study as a non-award student.

Application Form

Professional development student: Applications and payment must submitted by 24 February 2015 for the semester one course. Please contact if you are interested in taking this option.

Non-Award student (seeking academic credit): Application process.

More Information

All enquiries can be directed to the Unit coordinator: