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QS103: Introduction to Qualitative Methods


A census visit is a directed interview, a rigorous practice that calls for both a subject knowledge about the questions to ask and a control of the social interaction with the interviewee. (

Timing and CATS

This module is worth 15 CATS.

This is an Y1 Module and is available also to Y2 and Y3 students subject to their course regulations and departmental approval.

Further information.

Module Covenor: Jamelia Harris


Module Description

If empirical sciences have only one distinctive feature, compared to other discursive activities (politics, journalism, essays, etc.), it is their capacity to justify all and each of their arguments. The best way to do so is to follow a clear method throughout the research process—investigating and collecting data, analysing and interpreting them. This is what this course is about. It will deal with any kind of data related to politics, except statistical ones, with a focus on interviewing.

"Qualitative" is an umbrella term for a several families of methods that have always been widely used by modern social and political sciences. These ways of investigating and analysing political life are useful for all fields of political and international research, whether at the level or individuals, organisations or groups, during periods of routine or crisis, and regarding past or present times. This know-how can be of great use in many professional settings, beyond academic research, including: journalism, profit and non profit organisations, expertise and consultancy at local, national and international levels, and more generally any position necessitating a deep understanding of social or political phenomena.

Main topics covered in the course:

  • The role and importance of methods in the social and political sciences
  • Preparing and managing a scientific interview
  • What is going on in the interview interaction?
  • Analysing and interpreting rigorously textual data
  • Words in politics, political worlds

The course will consist of lectures, readings, field investigations and presentations.