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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Qualitative Approaches to Ed. Research
Module Code IE602
School 76
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Audrey Bryan
Semester 2: Audrey Bryan
Autumn: Audrey Bryan
Module TeachersAudrey Bryan
Gillian Lake
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only
The student may resubmit the assignment within an agreed time-frame

This module focuses on the rationale for and application of qualitative methodology to research problems in education. It challenges students to interrogate the epistemological and ontological principles underpinning qualitative research and the implications of adopting an interpretivist world view in research. Research traditions and paradigms are examined and popular qualitative approaches (including ethnography, phenomenology, narrative inquiry, grounded theory) are explored, from which the strengths, limitations and potential complementarity of each are reviewed. Examples of qualitative data analysis are introduced and considered with regard to trustworthiness, credibility and dependability. Students are encouraged to examine the applicability of various options/combinations of options to their research in the context of existing knowledge and skills, and personal/professional commitments, interests and ambitions.

Learning Outcomes

1. Evaluate one’s philosophical stance and the extent to which this is compatible with a qualitative approach to research
2. Distinguish between key approaches to qualitative research, their associated strategies and the nature of the processes of inquiry that each
3. Identify appropriate responses to common challenges that qualitative researchers may encounter (e.g. issues of access; ethics, insider/outsider research position, bias and subjectivity)
4. Critically evaluate an example of qualitative analysis and consider what features may or may not be appropriate for one’s proposed study.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Seminars15Active engagement in class and group-based discussion and critique of course content.
Online activity30Synchronous and/or asynchronous participation in online classes, discussion fora and/or critical review of relevant research recommended by the tutor(s).
Independent Study50Reading and critical review of literature relevant to the module.
Debate30Active participation in, and contribution to, a class debate in which assigned groups propose and defend the use of one or more qualitative research approaches to a pressing educational problem or challenge.
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Common approaches to qualitative research: The strengths, uses and limitations of each...

Common research strategies/tools: Interviews - elite, group/focus, informant..; observations - participant, structured..

Data sources: Primary, secondary, archival... - challenges and opportunities presenting...

Data collection: Skills required; piloting; time factors; dependence on participants; ethics....

Data analysis and review: Differing approaches, skills depending on nature of inquiry; challenges and opportunities...

Trustworthiness, saturation and generalisability: Implications for policy and practice

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Completion of online activityStudents are required to engage in learning activities and discussions online. These activities will include: 1. Online responses to 4 overriding guiding questions which are specifically linked to the module learning outcomes 2. Weekly reflections on learning and relevance to/implications for one’s own research design and study100%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Bell, Judith: 2010, Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science, 5th, Open University Press, Berkshire,
  • Burns, R. B.: 2000, Introduction to Research Methods, 4th, Sage, London,
  • Clough, P. & Nutbrown, C.: 2002, A student's guide to methodology, Sage, London,
  • Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K.: 2011, Research Methods in Education, Routledge, New York,
  • Creswell, J. W.: 2007, Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among 5 approaches, Sage, Thousand Oaks,
Other Resources

31379, Extended reading list, 0, Available at commencement of module,
INDICATIVE CONTENT: • Axioms, epistemologies, ontologies and theoretical perspectives associated with qualitative research • Exploration of research traditions and paradigms • The significance of research questions with respect to research design through to the contribution of knowledge in qualitative doctoral research • Popular research approaches as frameworks in qualitative research: phenomenology, narrative inquiry, action research, ethnography, case study and grounded theory – the strengths, uses and limitations of each • Approaches to qualitative analysis – challenges and opportunities • Internal coherence in doctoral research – positioning reflexivity and acknowledging bias
Programme or List of Programmes
APPMMaster of Arts
HDPMMaster of Arts
IEPMMaster of Arts
LLPMMaster of Arts
PPPMMaster of Arts
SGPMMaster of Arts

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