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This course is aimed at anyone planning to collect qualitative data using interviews or focus groups. Delivered over 2 half-days, this course will equally suit people new to qualitative research, and those who wish to develop additional skills in data collection.

You are expected to attend two sessions:

  • Wednesday 5 June, 09:30 - 12:30
  • Thursday 6 June, 09:30 - 12:30


Through a dynamic combination of lectures, practical exercises, and group discussion students will gain knowledge of the core principles for designing and running interviews and focus groups.

  • We will consider the differences (and similarities) between interviews and focus groups, and in which context each may be used.
  • We will focus on the crucial role of question design in qualitative data collection; including generating awareness of the effect of certain question designs, including ‘leading questions’ and ‘compound questions’.
  • We will review and critique existing topic guides for qualitative interviews and focus groups
  • Throughout the session we will consider the active role of the researcher in co-creating data with participants (rather than as a passive observer), and introduce the concept of ‘reflexivity’ to provide practical methods to manage this.
  • We will also consider the practicalities of running effective focus groups and interviews, including necessary equipment, and procedures, drawing in the concept of ‘fair dealing’.
  • Participants will have opportunity to practice designing their own interview (or focus group) questions, and to pilot these during the course.

Please note, this course does not cover issues around participant recruitment or sample size, which are available in “Primary qualitative research made simple”.

Teaching Methods:

  • Lectures
  • Practical exercises
  • Group discussion


Key Learning outcomes:

  • Understand the differences between qualitative interviews and focus groups, and in which context each may be used
  • Review the different methods for doing qualitative interviews, including structured, semi-structured, and Think Aloud interviews
  • Learn about the role of question design in generating responses
  • Be aware of the co-constructed nature of qualitative data
  • Practice skills in question design





It is now a requirement that you complete the three short questions in the survey you receive after attending the course. Once you have submitted the survey, you will be sent an email with a link to your attendance certificate. This is to ensure we receive the feedback we need to evaluate and improve our courses. Survey results are downloaded and stored anonymously.