Introducing Qualitative Health Research - Professional Development Course


This unit introduces the basics of qualitative health research.

Workshop One answers these questions: What is qualitative research? How is it different from quantitative research? What is its history? What research questions can it answer? How can I search for it? How do I design a qualitative study? You will learn about qualitative data collection: interviewing, focus groups and observing.

Workshop Two answers these questions: What is the place of qualitative research in health and medicine? Is methodology different to method? What are ontology and epistemology? What is reflexivity (and aren't qualitative researchers biased)? How are methodologies and theories used in qualitative research? How is qualitative research synthesised and evaluated? Can I generalise qualitative findings? You will analyse qualitative data two ways in class (for concepts and for social processes), and briefly explore the qualitative data management software NVivo.

In both workshops you will meet working qualitative researchers and hear about their projects.

This Unit will show you a new way of thinking critically about research and researching. By the end of the Unit you will be ready to begin evaluating and doing qualitative research for yourself.

Course aims

After completing this Unit, you will be able to:

  • Recognise qualitative research;
  • Make comparisons between qualitative inquiry and other forms of research;
  • Read and understand a qualitative research paper;
  • Argue for the value and usefulness of qualitative inquiry;
  • Explain the principles underlying qualitative research practice;
  • Access qualitative data management software;
  • Write human research ethics committee applications for qualitative research with some assistance;
  • Think more critically;
  • Begin to analyse qualitative data at an introductory level;
  • Draw on real examples of qualitative research practice.


Unit coordinator:
Dr Julie Mooney-Somers,
Ethics & the Law in Medicine and
Sydney School of Public Health


Semester 1

Application deadline

Semester 1 courses - 31 January
Late applications may be considered.

More information

Office for Teaching and Learning
Room 329, Level 3
Edward Ford Building (A27)
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia

Phone: +61 2 9351 4366