Spring 2021 - HSCI 803 G100

Qualitative Research Methods (3)

Class Number: 5304

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM



Methodologies and strategic research design for advancing knowledge and understanding in the health sciences. Problem definition, sampling, data collection, analysis, proposal writing, and ethical issues are addressed. Provides experiential and intellectual grounding in interviews, focus groups, and ethnography.


This course will examine qualitative research methods for advancing knowledge and understanding in the health sciences. We will explore qualitative research design principles and techniques. The course will provide experiential and intellectual grounding in several qualitative data collection techniques. We will also examine the use of qualitative research to study the social determinants of health, and particular health issues.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
• Explain the logic, purpose, strengths, and weaknesses of a variety of qualitative
research approaches for advancing knowledge and understanding in the health
• Describe the use of qualitative research for a variety of determinants
of health;
• Demonstrate introductory skills in qualitative research design

  • Development of research questions,
  • Attention to ethical conduct for research involving humans, and
  • Choosing appropriate sampling strategies, sample sizes, data collection techniques and instruments, and analysis plans;
• Demonstrate introductory skills in a variety of research data collection techniques
  • Participant observation,
  • Individual, in-depth, semi-structured interviews, and
  • Focus groups

Please Note: Resources to support learning of survey research methods, and tools for developing and conducting surveys, will be provided (to students who are interested), but there will not be any assignments, assessments, or modules focused on survey research in the course.


  • Class and tutorial participation 15%
  • Observation assignment 20%
  • Interview assignment 20%
  • Literature Review assignment 20%
  • Final research proposal 25%


Class & Tutorial Participation (worth 15% of your final grade)

All students are expected to participate fully, as class and tutorial attendance is an important part of this participation grade. Marks toward this participation component of your grade are earned through attending class sessions, tutorials, as well as completing participation tasks, exercises, and activities throughout the course. You will receive 1 point toward this component of your mark for each session you attend and each task you complete (e.g., +1 for each session or task). I anticipate that most students will earn the full 15% for this component of your mark, as they will attend each session and complete each task.

If you will be absent from class or tutorial to observe a holy day, please inform me of the date of this absence by e-mail in the first weeks of the course.


Qualitative Research Assignments (worth a total of 60% of your final grade)

There are three main assignments.

  • The Literature Review Assignment will provide an opportunity for you to find and examine qualitative research studies (focused on a topic of your choice), to summarize key findings and gaps in knowledge evident in the literature. This assignment is worth 20% of your final grade.
  • The Observation Assignment will provide an opportunity to practice participant observation and the development of field notes and reflections. This assignment is worth 20% of your final grade.
  • The Interview Assignment requires you to conduct a short individual, semi-structured, in-depth interview and transcribe a portion of the interview. The interview guide will be developed through group work, and you will interview a classmate or fellow MPH student. This assignment is worth 20% of your final grade.

Final Research Proposal (worth 25% of your final grade)

You will summarize your learning over the semester through the creating a description of a proposed research study, on a topic of your choice, using qualitative research methods. This assignment will be in the

form of a short research proposal.




  • Green, J., Thorogood, N. (2018). Qualitative methods for health research (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • A detailed list of weekly readings will be distributed through Canvas, and additional readings will be found online or distributed through Canvas.


Fowler, F. J. (2014). Survey research methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).