Qualitative Health Research


Qualitative research is becoming increasingly popular in health-related fields including medicine, public health, nursing, allied health, dentistry, and health policy. Qualitative health research can assist policymakers, clinicians, health promotion professionals and consumers to understand the perspectives people bring to their health, the values people hold, and the actions people take.

What do qualitative health researchers do? Qualitative researchers spend their time in conversation, interpretation and writing more than in calculation. They observe people as they go about their usual activities, talk to people individually and in groups, and examine documents and images. They systematically analyse the resulting data to gain a better understanding of issues as they arise in the ordinary social world. For proficient communicators who love language and ideas, qualitative research offers a demanding but extremely rewarding career, grounded in textual rather than statistical analysis.

Why should I consider the Sydney Qualitative Health Research Program? We are the first structured postgraduate program of training in qualitative health research in Australia. We provide practical training by industry practitioners, sophisticated engagement with theory and methodology and solid preparation in current health issues.

Training in Qualitative Health Research will enhance your application for a degree by research at the School of Public Health.

Students choosing to undertake a Qualitative Health Research program at Sydney Medical School will have the opportunity to:

  • Critically engage with qualitative methodologies and traditions;
  • Observe and interview individuals and groups including managing focus groups;
  • Connect to peers interested in qualitative inquiry and to working qualitative researchers;
  • Develop knowledge of the history of qualitative research, qualitative methodology and ethically sound research practice;
  • Gain skills in qualitative study design, data collection, data analysis and writing, including writing applications for research ethics approval and grant funding;
  • Develop confidence to reason and argue about qualitative methodology, and about the purpose and value of qualitative inquiry.


What is on offer? The Qualitative Health Research program is available as:

  • Master of Qualitative Health Research
  • Graduate Diploma in Qualitative Health Research
  • Graduate Certificate in Qualitative Health Research


There are four core units of study:

  • PUBH5500: Advanced Qualitative Health Research
  • QUAL5002: Qualitative Methodologies and Study Design
  • QUAL5003: Qualitative Research: Analysis and Writing
  • QUAL5004: Designing a Qualitative Research Project


A wide range of elective units on topics including health problems and interventions, ethics, humanities, social science, and health policy are available.

More information about the programs, including application information, is available here:

Professional development short courses available for Qualitative Health Research


Three QHR units (PUBH5500, QUAL5002, and QUAL5003) will be offered in 2013.

  • PUBH5500: Advanced Qualitative Health Research
  • QUAL5002: Qualitative Methodologies and Study Design
  • QUAL5003: Qualitative Research: Analysis and Writing


These units are available as short courses for those wishing to receive academic credit. You will be expected to take part in all learning and assessment activities, you will receive an academic transcript, if you fail the unit an Absent Fail will be recorded on your academic transcript, you will pay the standard university rate for the unit of study and you will be able to count the unit of study towards one of our degrees. More information, including application information, is available here.

For students wishing to undertake professional development only you can enrol directly through VELIM. You will not be required to complete assignments but your results will not be retained, nor will they be recorded on an academic transcript and you will not be able to claim credit for this Unit towards one of our degrees, now or in the future. More information, including application information, is available here.


Unit of Study coordinator


Dr Julie Mooney-Somers

Senior Lecturer Qualitative Research in Health

Centre for Values, Ethics & the Law in Medicine, and Sydney School of Public Health

University of Sydney

Tel: (02) 9036 3412

Email: .