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NUR8040 Qualitative Research Methods

Semester 1, 2013 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Nursing and Midwifery
Version produced : 21 July 2014

Contents on this page


Examiner: Jillian Brammer
Moderator: Lisa Beccaria


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: MANP or MMHN or MMID or MMPO or MNIC or MNUR or MNRS or MNRH or PDEV or SING or CRPG or BPSH or (BSCI with Psychology major 13815)


Inquiry into intra-personal and inter-personal human experience requires sensitive, qualitative methods and any attempts to change human action is best based upon these understandings. This is in contrast to many aspects of the physical and biological world which can be well explained by quantitative methods and can be changed by techno-rational means. These same methods, however, do not help us to understand many important aspects of the social world and the emotional/spiritual world of individuals. This course introduces postgraduate students developing research skills to the specific practices of qualitative methods of data collection, management, analysis and interpretation.


The course is concerned with the skills of the qualitative researcher including the researcher as instrument, participant observation, individual interviewing, focus-group interviews, grounded theorising text-based research, praxis and action research. The course provides an overview of qualitative data analysis including thematic analysis, grounded theorising, critical incident analysis, theory-based analysis and the use of computers in qualitative data analysis.


On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. critically examine their own values, biases and beliefs and show how these are either bracketed or related to their research process and findings (Participation Observation, Indepth Interviewing Exercise);
  2. demonstrate integrity, sensitivity, openness, honesty and non-judgmental acceptance as a qualitative researcher in an interview situation (Indepth Interviewing Exercise);
  3. demonstrate beginning skills in participant observation and individual interviewing (Participation Observation, Indepth Interviewing Exercise);
  4. critically examine and select an appropriate method to analyse qualitative data including: thematic analysis, grounded theorising, critical incident analysis, theory-based analysis and the use of computers in qualitative data analysis (Qualitative Research Analysis).


Description Weighting(%)
1. Module 1 Qualitative Research Methodology - introduction to: the philosophical foundations for qualitative research; the broad area of qualitative research design; the qualitative research process; and research ethics. 20.00
2. Module 2 The Skills of the Qualitative Researcher - critically examining and managing personal values `biases', researcher honesty, sensitivity and non-judgmental acceptance, recording qualitative data, developing qualitative research skills, participant observation, individual interviewing, focus-group interviews, praxis and action research, phenomenological research, grounded theory research. 50.00
3. Module 3 Analysing Qualitative Data - critically examining and selecting an appropriate method to analyse data, analysing text-based research data, the use of computers in qualitative analysis, writing a qualitative research report. 30.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Grbich, C 1999, Qualitative research in health: an introduction, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Beach, D 1996, The responsible conduct of research, VCH, New York.
  • Benner, P (ed) 1994, Interpretive phenomenology: embodiment, caring and ethics in health and illness, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.
  • Crotty, M 1996, Phenomenology and nursing research, Churchill Livingstone, Melbourne.
  • Darlington, Y & Scott, D 2002, Qualitative research in practice: stories from the field, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest.
  • Denzin, NK & Lincoln, YS 2005, The sage handbook of qualitative research, 3rd edn, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.
  • Emden, C 1998, Conducting a narrative analysis, vol. 5, pp. 34-39.
  • Emden, C 1998, Theoretical perspectives on narrative inquiry, vol. 5, pp. 30-35.
  • Fonow, M & Cook, J (eds) 1991, Beyond methodology: feminist scholarship as lived research, Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
  • Glaser, BG & Strauss, AL 1967, The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research, Aldine Publishing, Chicago.
  • Glesne, C & Peshkin, A 1992, The personal dimension: rapport and subjectivity becoming qualitative researchers: an introduction, 2nd edn, Longman, New York.
  • Greenwood, J 1994, Action research and action researchers: Some introductory considerations, Contemporary nurse, vol. 3, pp. 84-92.
  • Harding, S 1987, Feminism and methodology: social science issues, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Holloway, I 2005, Qualitative research in health care, 2nd edn, Open University Press.
  • Janesick, VJ 2003, Stretching exercises for qualitative researchers, 2nd edn, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.
  • Keats, DM 1993, Techniques of interviewing: skilled interviewing, 2nd edn, ACER, Hawthorne.
  • Kuhn, TS 1996, The structure of scientific Revolutions, 3rd edn, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  • Lather, P 1986, Research as praxis, vol. 36, pp. 257-277.
    (Harvard Educational Review.)
  • Lather, P 1991, Getting smart: feminist research and pedagogy within the postmodern, Routledge, New York.
  • Marshall, C & Rossman, G 1999, Designing qualitative research, 3rd edn, Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.
  • Martin-McDonald, K 1999, Once upon a time. Narratives & Research, Contemporary nurse, vol. 8, pp. 221-226.
  • Roberts, K & Taylor, B 2002, Nursing research processes: an australian perspective, 2nd edn, Nelson, South Melbourne.
  • Strauss, A & Corbin, J 1990, Basics of qualitative research: grounded theory procedures and techniques, Sage, Newbury Park.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 60.00
Private Study 100.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete an assessment item satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available for that assessment item.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without prior approval then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment will apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded. No assignments will be accepted after model answers have been posted.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    There will be no Deferred or Supplementary examinations in this course.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the Examiner's convenience.

  3. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.