Qualitative researching and critical inquiry – On generating, analysing and critically assessing qualitative data – SOS9002

November 28 – December 2, 2022 and January 23-24, 2023.

​​​​​​​​​Dates: November 28 – December 2, 2022 and January 23-24, 2023
Course code: SOS9002
Number of points: 10 ECTs including essay
Campus: Bodø
Course start: November 28, 2022
Course language: English
Prerequisites: Applicants must be admitted to a PhD-program.
Faculty: Associate Professor Berit Irene Vannebo, Nord University,
Professor Johans Tveit Sandvin, Nord University, Faculty of Social


Application deadline for all applicants: November 1, 2022

>> Application form PhD course​


Qualitative research has won terrain in recent decades, much due to a social world that is increasingly thought to be complex and multi-dimensional. Hence, today, most social science study programs offers courses in qualitative, as well as quantitative method, both at bachelor and masters level. Nevertheless, there is a tendency to perceive qualitative method as less systematic and rigorous - less methodical - than quantitative method.

What distinguishes qualitative and quantitative research is first and foremost that they are designed to answer different types of questions. The requirements for thoroughness are equally strict in qualitative as in quantitative methods, but the procedures are different and more open to adaptation to the field and phenomenon under study.

The course provides an advanced and critical introduction to different designs and methodologies in qualitative research, as well as to the justifications and degrees of leeway of different designs. Focusing on interviews, documents and field observation as sources for generating empirical data (and their possible combinations), the co implications for analyses.

The course is organized into two workshops, in which the first (in November) is largely based on thematic lectures and seminar discussions, while the second (in January) is devoted to the presentation and discussion of student papers.

Learning outcomes:

These are the following learning outcomes expected upon completion of the course.


After completing the course, students should have gained advanced knowledge about:

  • The legacy of qualitative research methods
  • The theoretical justification of qualitative research
  • The properties of qualitative data
  • Applicable methods to analyse different qualitative material


After completing the course, students should have advanced their ability:

  • To design qualitative inquiries suitable to answer different qualitative questions
  • To justify the methodological choices made in qualitative designs
  • To generate and arrange different types of qualitative data material
  • To analyse different types of qualitative data in ways that fit the purpose of the study

General competence

After completing the course, students should have advanced their ability:

  • ​To plan, perform and explain qualitative research
  • To participate in and contribute to academic discussions in qualitative research
  • To review and critically assess the quality of qualitative inquiries


This course will address the following areas:

  • ​The evolvement of qualitative research
  • The methodological basis for qualitative research
  • The types and character of qualitative data
  • The critical elements of qualitative designs
  • The performance of qualitative analysis
  • Critically scrutinizing and evaluating qualitative data
  • The quality assessment of qualitative inquiries

Reading list:​​

  • ​Abend, Gabriel (2008). The Meaning of “Theory”. Sociological Theory. Vol 26. No.2 (24 pages)
  • Abend, Gabriel (2019). Thick Concepts and Sociological Research. Sociological Theory. Vol.37. No.3 (24 pages)​
  • Flyvbjerg, Bent (2006). Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research. Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 12, nor. 2. (35 pages)
  • Burawoy, Michael. (2003). Revisits: An Outline of a Theory of Reflexive Ethnography American Sociological Review , Oct., 2003, Vol. 68, No. 5. (34 pages)
  • Hammersley, Marty​n (2007). The issue of quality in qualitative research. International Journal of Research & Methods in Education. Vol. 30, No. 3. (22 pages)
  • Pugh, Allison J. (2013). What good are interviews for thinking about culture? Demystifying interpretive analysis. American Journal of Cultural Sociology. Vol 1. No.1 (26 pages)​
  • Reed, Isaac (2011).“Knowledge”, chapter 1 in Interpretation and Social Knowledge: On the Use of Theory in the Human Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (24 pages)
  • Schwandt, Tomas (2007). The SAGE Dictionary of Qualitative Inquiry. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications (The terms; Generalization, Reliability and Validity – 7 pages)
  • Silverman, David (ed.) (2016). Qualitative Research. 4. Edition. London: Sage. Pars I, II, III, IV, VII and VIII. (305 pages)
  • Silverman, David.(2017). How was it for You? The Interview Society and the rise of the (poorly analyzed) intervie​w. Qualitative Research. Vol 17. No.2 (14 pages)
  • Yin, Robert K. (2018). Case study research and applications: design and methods. 6. Edition. London: S​age. Chapter 1-2. (50 pages)
  • Weinberg, Darin (ed.) (2002). Qualitative Research Methods. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Chapter. (328 pages)​