Planning and Designing a Qualitative Study



Organised by:

Social Research Associaiton


Professor Karen O'Reilly


Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)


Lindsay Adams
E: (preferred method of contact)
T: 0204 551 3864


View in Google Maps  (N1 9RL)


National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Society Building
8 All Saints Street


This course explores understanding the planning and preparation for qualitative research (Foundation level). 


This one-day intensive foundation course aims to equip participants with a good understanding of the philosophical and practical decision-making required when planning a qualitative research project. Through a combination of lectures and hands-on practical sessions, the course takes participants from conception to design of a qualitative research project. The course aims to: give participants a solid grounding in the basic logic of qualitative research and how to make informed practical decisions; enable participants to select appropriate sampling strategies; introduce participants to a range of methods and techniques and to consider their relevance for diverse research questions; consider quality concern issues, reflexivity and ethics; and give practical, hands-on, experience of designing aspects of a research proposal including a relevant sampling strategy.


Course objectives

By the end of the course participants should:


  • Be equipped to plan, design, and defend their own research projects using qualitative research techniques,
  • Have a clear understanding of why certain choices are made, when in relation to design
  • Be confident to proceed to the next level of actually conducting the research with a clear framework and plan of action.
  • Understand choices to be made with respect to sampling
  • Be confident to prepare clear aims and objectives
  • Understand which are relevant topic areas for qualitative design
  • Participants should also feel confident to prepare (and assess) research grant funding and support applications as a result of attending this one-day course. 


  • The broad nature of qualitative research
  • Reviewing the literature and developing qualitative research questions
  • Developing the design from a broad topic area to aims and objectives
  • Linking research questions, methodologies and methods
  • An introduction to main methods and techniques, and selecting an appropriate strategy
  • Designing a qualitative sample
  • Designing topic guides and other materials for use in interview or focus group studies
  • Judging, and explaining, the ‘quality’ of qualitative research 

Who will benefit

Anyone starting out in qualitative research, or taking a course in qualitative methods (eg. interviewing, ethnography, creative methods, narrative, or focus groups) would be advised to take this Foundations in Qualitative Research course as it provides an invaluable basis for future practice. It is also designed to support those who need to know what to look for when commissioning good quality research. It is suitable for participants with very little or no experience of qualitative research but also can be of benefit for those wishing to brush-up their skills or enhance their understanding of the qualitative paradigm. It works better if participants have a specific research project or set of projects in mind. Participants come from diverse academic and policy backgrounds and very diverse topic areas.

Course tutor

Karen O'Reilly is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Loughborough University and a Freelance Researcher. She has taught ethnographic and qualitative methods for over 25 years, including the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Collection and Analysis, the Swiss Summer School in Social Science Methods, in Lugano; at the Universities of Aberdeen, Essex, Loughborough and Oxford; and in Germany, Norway and Hong Kong. Her experience also includes being a Member of the Advisory Board of the NCRM biannual Research Methods Festival 2011-2012; and a member of the ESRC Peer Review College 2012 – 2016.

Karen is a highly experienced ethnographer whose many publications include two widely cited books on ethnography: Ethnographic Methods (Routledge, 2nd ed. 2012) and Key Concepts in Ethnography (Sage, 2009). She has also been instrumental in the design and evaluation of Masters level Research Methods courses and programmes in a number of universities. Karen provides short courses for the SRA on a regular basis.


£270.00 - SRA members pay £202.50

Website and registration:


Greater London


Qualitative Data Handling and Data Analysis

Related publications and presentations:

Qualitative Data Handling and Data Analysis

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