Interviewing and Qualitative Data Analysis

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
29 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA M90012 Criminology,
MSC C80612 Research Methods in Psychology,
MA L30112 Sociological Research Methods,
MPHDML9048 Criminology,
PHD ML9048 Criminology,
MPHDC80048 Psychology,
PHD C80048 Psychology,
MSOCM999 Criminology,
MSOCMA98 Criminology (Including Placement Year),
MSOCMA99 Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
MSCIC998 Psychology with Advanced Research Methods,
MSCICB98 Psychology with Advanced Research Methods (Including Placement Year),
MSCICB99 Psychology with Advanced Research Methods (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module gives students a practical grounding in the theory and methods of qualitative interviewing. It introduces theoretical and epistemological issues underpinning different approaches to interviewing, and addresses some of the factors that influence and shape the practice of interviewing and the encounters and conversations that this generates. Interview techniques, different types of interviews, and approaches to data analysis are also explored. Ethical issues and power differentials in the field are addressed throughout the module in relation to the topics addressed.

Module aims

* to give an overview of different approaches to qualitative data analysis
* to examine the nature of qualitative interviews, and review when they are an appropriate research method
* to take students through the qualitative research process, including design, selection of interview subjects, interview interpersonal dynamics, and analysis
* to equip students with the skills to tackle a qualitative study of their own in the future

Module learning outcomes

The module will also give students the opportunity to gain practical experience on how to design and conduct a qualitative interview, and to reflect on the politics of representing and interpreting 'others'.

Module information

Please note that assessment information is currently showing for 2019-20 and will be updated in September.

Please be aware that this course includes a lot of experiential learning and it is mandatory to attend each week.

For their main assessed assignment students will conduct an in-depth interview, and write an essay reflecting on it.

Week 16 - Introduction of Shared Research Topic

This lecture will introduce the course aims, including a discussion of the research topic we will examine through a collaborative mini-qualitative study. We will discuss some of the epistemological underpinnings of qualitative research, followed by a practical discussion of the first stages of devising a research project, from researching comparative case studies, to selecting research subjects and gaining access.

Week 17 - Introduction to Interviewing

This lecture explores different epistemological approaches to interviewing, introducing how and why interviews are useful in qualitative research, what kind of data they generate, and the differences between particular interviewing approaches. We will discuss accessing different research informants, and explore the ethics and politics of interviewing different social groups, from 'elite' to 'vulnerable' sources. We will compare sociological and journalistic approaches to interviewing, and discuss some of the political and ethical dilemmas raised by investigating hard-to-access, illegal or socially taboo areas, such as illicit drug consumption, trafficking, regulatory corruption, sexual 'deviance,' or political or corporate fraud.

Week 18 - Interview preparation and standardized topic guides

The lecture will, firstly, discuss the various background and supplementary materials useful in preparing for an interview, from the use of topic guides, to carrying out comprehensive background searches. We will discuss questions of informant privacy and anonymity - and compare the benefits and detriments of anonymizing the identity of sources.

Week 19 - The interview relationship and the development of research skills

We will discuss the skills - empathy, understanding, attentiveness - useful during interviews, and explore the ethics of asking deliberatively provocative or obtrusive questions. We will discuss techniques for ensuring research subjects have the space to tell their own narratives, while structuring interviews towards pertinent information.

Week 20 - Moderating Focus Groups

This lecture will discuss the epistemological underpinnings of focus groups, and examine when group interviews may be preferable, and likely to yield more illuminating or explanatory data, to individual interviews. We explore the role of the moderator in seeking to appear either impartial and unobtrusive, or intentionally directional, and explore the ethics and politics of either approach.

Week 22 - Criticizing and learning from interviews

Through empirical examples, we will assess various interviews - our own and others - in order to explore when different strategies, from provocation to empathy, yield alternatively surprising, counterintuitive or confirmative information. We will discuss the practicalities of citing interview material, questions of legal culpability for disseminating sensitive material, and reiterate some of the dilemmas raised by questions of informant identity and privacy.

Week 23 - The politics of interpretation

This lecture explores the politics of interpretation, and discusses the skills and strategies useful for examining and analyzing interviews for key themes and / or omissions. We will examine how to extrapolate themes from interviews, and how to take into consideration the politics of 'missing' data - accidentally or deliberately omitted information that may be relevant to one's research.

Week 24 - Computer-assisted data analysis

We will explore various digital tools and computer-assisted methods for storing, coding and analyzing interviews.

Week 25 - Reporting findings

We will discuss the challenge and advantages of reporting findings to different publics: media, popular audiences, academic audiences, and policymakers. We will explore epistemological and political questions surrounding the effort to develop a 'public sociology,' and the detriments and advantages of modeling sociological practices on techniques from investigative journalism. Finally, we will discuss pitching media articles and designing press releases.

Learning and teaching methods

No information available.


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   In class interview    15% 
Coursework   Digital interview    15% 
Coursework   Essay of 2500 words    70% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Andrew Canessa, email:
Jason Sumich
Michele Hall, Graduate Administrator, Telephone 01206 873051, Email:



External examiner

Dr Umut Erel
Open University
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 18 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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