Course syllabus for

Qualitative Methods, 7.5 credits

Kvalitativa metoder, 7.5 hp
This course syllabus is valid from spring 2023.
Please note that the course syllabus is available in the following versions:
Spring2020 , Spring2023
Course code
Course name
Qualitative Methods
7.5 credits
Form of Education
Higher Education, study regulation 2007
Main field of study 
Public Health Sciences 
AV - Second cycle 
Grading scale
Fail (U), pass (G) or pass with distinction (VG)
Department of Global Public Health
Decided by
Utbildningsnämnden PHS
Decision date
Revised by
Education Committee GPH
Last revision
Course syllabus valid from
Spring 2023

Specific entry requirements

A Bachelor's degree or a professional degree equivalent to a Swedish Bachelor's degree of at least 180 credits in public health science, healthcare or other relevant social sciences subject area. And proficiency in English equivalent to English B/English 6.


After completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • describe key characteristics of qualitative research, its main applications and contributions
  • describe and discuss key characteristics of qualitative data collection methods and reflect over their main advantages and challenges
  • describe key characteristics of main qualitative analysis methods
  • describe and recognize quality in qualitative research including the qualitative definition of reliability, validity and transferability
  • make informed decisions about which types of research questions are best answered using qualitative methods
  • discuss how qualitative data can contribute to the understanding of the global sustainable development goals and of the health effects of climate change
  • contrast qualitative and quantitative approaches and understand when these are best used singly or in combination


The course is introductory, which means the aim of lectures and practical assignments is to provide the student with a basic understanding of the purpose and use of qualitative methods within global public health. The lectures and workshops therefore deal with the epistemological and methodological points of departure for qualitative research, and how scientific issues and choice of method relate. The course also focus on advantages and challenges with qualitative data collection methods (interviews, focus group discussion and observations), different methodological approaches (e.g. grounded theory, ethnography) and their most important methods for analysis (e.g. thematic analysis, narrative analysis).

Practical individual and group assignments are mixed with theoretical lectures, in order to promote the students´ scientific thinking as well as their practical skills. During the course the students develop an interview guide, plan and carry out observations, and participate in a focus group discussion. With these exercises as background, quality and transferability in qualitative studies are discussed in groups and class. Specific ethical aspects of different phases in qualitative research in health are discussed throughout the course.

Teaching methods

The course is problem-oriented and comprises lectures, practical individual and group assignments, seminars and literature studies.


An individual written examination is given at the end of the course, on which the grade is based. The examination consists of different parts; based on the practical and theoretical elements in the course.  The grades used are fail, pass, pass with distinction. 

Compulsory participation
Students will conduct individual and group assignments which are presented in writing and orally at seminars. Completing and being present at these seminars is mandatory. The examiner assesses if, and how, absence from compulsory educational elements can be compensated for. Before the student has participated in the compulsory educational elements or compensated the absence in accordance with the examiner's instructions, the final course results will not be reported. Absence from a compulsory educational component may mean that the student cannot compensate for the missed compulsory educational element until the next time the course is given. 

Limitation of number of occasions to write the exam
 Students who have not passed the regular examination are entitled to participate in five more examinations. If the student has not passed the exam after four participations he/she is encouraged to visit the study advisor. The number of times that the student has participated in one and the same examination is regarded as an examination session. Submission of a blank examination is regarded as an examination. An examination for which the student registered but not participated in will not be counted as an examination.

If there are special grounds, or a need for adaptation for a student with a disability, the examiner may decide to deviate from the syllabus's regulations on the examination form, the number of examination opportunities, the possibility of supplementation or exemptions from the compulsory section/s of the course etc. Content and learning outcomes as well as the level of expected skills, knowledge and abilities may not be changed, removed or reduced.

Transitional provisions

Examination will be provided during a time of two years after a possible cancellation of the course. Examination can take place according to an earlier literature list during a time of one year after the date when a major renewal of the literature list has been made.

Other directives

Course evaluation will be carried out in accordance with the guidelines established by the Committee for Higher Education.

The course language is English.

Literature and other teaching aids

Green, Judith; Thorogood, Nicki Qualitative methods for health research
Kvale, Steinar; Brinkmann, Svend InterViews : learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing