POPLHLTH 704 : Undertaking Qualitative Health Research

Medical and Health Sciences

2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Provides practical experience in the appraisal and use of qualitative methods in research in health. The development of studies from research questions through design, conduct, and analysis and interpretation of such studies are examined in detail. Students are required to prepare a portfolio examining the use of a specific methodological approach in qualitative health research.

Course Overview

In this course we develop practical experience in the appraisal and use of qualitative methods in research in health; the aim is for you to become a 'critical consumer' and a 'rigorous producer' of qualitative research. We develop holistic understanding of qualitative research, including rigour, ethics, research questions, methodological frameworks, and the design, conduct, and analysis and interpretation of research studies, as well as issues around (and creative approaches to) disseminating research. We will explore a variety of methodological approaches which fall under the broad 'qualitative research' umbrella. Students are required to write weekly synopses of specified readings and prepare an annotated bibliography examining the use of a specific methodological approach in qualitative health research. There is a strong emphasis throughout on self-directed learning and developing your critical reading and reflective writing skills. The course includes peer feedback and incremental learning (for example, presentations on your annotated bibliography topic to small groups of peers, peer feedback on a draft, opportunities to revise earlier work). 

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Course Contacts

Associate Professor Janine Wiles - j.wiles@auckland.ac.nz

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Master of Health Sciences

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand and critically evaluate reports and presentations of qualitative research (Capability 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 6.1, 6.2, 8.1 and 8.2)
  2. Develop and demonstrate an understanding of robust and ethical design, conduct, and dissemination of qualitative research (Capability 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 8.1 and 8.2)
  3. Inquire into and critically reflect on on ethical and philosophical issues relating to qualitative research methodologies (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 8.1 and 8.2)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the the development of research questions and methodological approaches for qualitative research (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, 8.1 and 8.2)
  5. Be able to identify and evaluate appropriate strategies for data collection, and interpretation and analysis, and dissemination (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 3.1, 3.3, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, 8.1 and 8.2)
  6. Critically evaluate and reflect on oral and written presentation of qualitative research (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 8.1 and 8.2)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Coursework (Synopses) 60% Individual Coursework
Portfolio (annotated bibliography) 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Coursework (Synopses)
Portfolio (annotated bibliography)
Students can opt in to 'contract grading': a range of learning behaviours and approaches are specified in a 'contract' and so long as the student adequately meet these standards, a guaranteed minimum mark is applied (final grade is assessed on a final portfolio of work).  Students who do not meet the criteria however, can only achieve up to a maximum grade just below the minimum contracted grade. 

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend  a MINIMUM of 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 5x 5 hour blocks of lectures, at least 2 hours of reading per week and thinking about the content and at least 5 hours per week of work on assignments. 

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is DEFINITELY expected at scheduled activities including lectures/tutorials to complete components of the course. If you cannot attend regularly you should reconsider taking this course.
Lectures will be available as recordings.
The course will include live events including group discussions.
The activities for the course are scheduled as timetabled block days when we are working on campus.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Course materials are made available in the course website located in the University’s learning platform CANVAS which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

Student feedback generally is that this course is challenging and demanding but very worthwhile - they have learnt useful and applicable skills and developed knowledge that will be practically applicable in their research. Students often comment favourably on the interactive nature of the course and the learning style and this is a big emphasis in this course. 
Students are also very positive about the contract grading - commenting that it allowed them to relax and focus more deeply on their learning, to take risks with their learning, and to understand what is required of them. 

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.