PUBH5500: Advanced Qualitative Health Research



6 Credit Points

Offered: Intensive March/April 2013

Classes: Block mode (2 x 3 days)

Assessment: 2x 2000wd assignments (2x40%) plus 2x 500wd reflections on workshops (2x10%)



This unit overviews qualitative inquiry. It is perfect if you're a beginner or unsure about the basics of qualitative research. It aims to give students the experience and skills they need to understand and begin doing qualitative 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; participate in a focus group and design and conduct your own individual interview.

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 the interview data you collected in class, and use your own data to briefly explore the qualitative data management software NVivo.

Dr Julie Mooney-Somers leads this unit with experienced industry practitioners teaching into the program, including via the very popular “Meet the Researcher” sessions where you meet active qualitative researchers and hear about their projects. In 2012 our guest lecturers and presenters included:

Dr Stacy Carter; Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM), University of Sydney:

  • The history and diversity of qualitative research
  • Meet the researcher talk on using Grounded Theory methodology in health promotion research


Dr Rowena Forsyth; Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) & Northern Clinical School, Sydney Medical School:

  • Observation as a data collection tool in qualitative research
  • Meet the researcher talk on using Ethnography methodology in health services research


Dr Cynthia Hunter; School of Public Health, University of Sydney:

  • Meet the researcher talk on using Ethnography methodology in Indonesia


Dr Sally Nathan; School of Public Health and Community Medicine, The University of New South Wales:

  • Meet the researcher talk on using interviews as a method in evaluation of ‘Football United,’ a program for refugee youth


Dr Peter Sainsbury; Director, Population Health, Division of Population Health, SSWAHS

  • Meet the researcher talk on the place of qualitative research in public health


Associate Professor Ian Kerridge; Director, Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) & Staff Haematologist/Bone Marrow Transplant Physician, Westmead Hospital:

  • Human research and (bio)ethics: an historical perspective


Dr Spring Cooper Robbins; Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Centre, University of Sydney

  • Meet the researcher talk on using Mixed Methods methodology in research on perceptions of the HPV vaccine


Ms Michelle Harrison; Faculty Liaison Librarian, School of Languages and Cultures; University of Sydney:

  • Searching for qualitative literature


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.
More information about this Unit, including application information, is available here.