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Qualitative Research in Public Health (POPH90231)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePOPH90231
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This is a compulsory subject in the Master of Public Health. Qualitative research plays an important role in public health as it can explain how people experience a particular health issue or why they perform a health-related behavior, taking into account specific social, political and economic contexts. Public health practitioners need to be able to undertake and interpret a range of published research (including qualitative research) in order to gather evidence for practice, identify gaps in evidence and evaluate current practice.

This subject will introduce students to qualitative research in public health - both the principles underlying design and the strengths and weaknesses of different qualitative methodologies. It will cover a range of methods, such as individual interviews, group interviews, visual and participatory methods. Each element of research design will be covered, from recognising research paradigms and sampling strategies through to the different types of analysis. Students will learn how to design, plan and evaluate qualitative research as sources of evidence in public health.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject students will be able to:

  • Describe the contribution of qualitative research to public health
  • Describe various research paradigms and reflect on how they impact the design and conduct of research
  • Identify ethical issues in qualitative research, and define the particular ethical principles that apply to research with indigenous communities.
  • Devise research questions suitable to qualitative research
  • Formulate a qualitative research design to answer a public health question, including; selecting the population and sample, recruitment methods, data collection tools and approach to analyses.
  • Identify the key steps in the development of data collection tools (e.g. interviews, focus groups, and observation)
  • Critically appraise the findings, strengths and weaknesses of published qualitative research in public health.

Generic skills

Upon completion of this subject students will have developed skills in:

  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Problem-solving
  • Finding, evaluating and using relevant information
  • Written communication
  • Persuasion and argumentation

Last updated: 30 August 2019