Skip to main content


Interpretive Methodologies

Module titleInterpretive Methodologies
Module codeERPM001
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Professor Alexandra Allan (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Through this module you will develop a critical understanding of interpretive research, and competence in the planning and execution of such research. The module will introduce you to the research traditions which are commonly considered a part of this approach, as well as those which closely overlap and align. It will also introduce you to a range of key concepts and principles which are significant in the interpretivist research tradition, and to some relevant methodologies and research methods. As a student on the module you will be required to: engage in some research design activities; develop some research tools; and practice some of the methods you have encountered on the module. Your work on the module will culminate in a small-scale interpretivist project which you will design and conduct yourself.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module focuses on the nature, planning and execution of interpretive research. It requires students to confront questions of methodology while attending, also, to those of method: research design, data collection, analysis and generation of theory. It aims to ensure that students develop a keen awareness of the centrality of the researcher in the processes of research design, data collection and analysis, and of ethical issues in interpretive enquiry. While the module aims to enable students to acquire a high level of competence in working with qualitative data in particular, it will require, also, that they become familiar with the ways in which other forms of data can serve interpretive research. The module also aims to enable students to develop understanding of and to make informed evaluation of relevant computer software for data analysis.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate a knowledge of the nature of interpretivist research;
  • 2. demonstrate a knowledge of appropriate methods of data collection, analysis and theory generation for use in interpretivist research;
  • 3. demonstrate a critical awareness of the place of qualitative and quantitative data in interpretive research;
  • 4. demonstrate a critical awareness of the central place of the researcher in interpretive research, and notions of subjectivity and reflexivity;
  • 5. identify ethical concerns in relation to different interpretive approaches;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. design and conduct a research project with due regard to the opportunities and limitations afforded by the methods utilised;
  • 7. demonstrate understanding of methodological principles through choice of appropriate research techniques in the light of complex problems;
  • 8. read, understand and produce a critique of research papers and reports that have used qualitative approaches;
  • 9. critically reflect on and evaluate your own research in order to improve it;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. demonstrate skills in self-management - in particular the management of time, tasks and evaluation of own learning;
  • 11. demonstrate skills in personal judgement - particularly in respect of ethically sensitive issues;
  • 12. demonstrate the ability to communicate and present ideas when writing and speaking and to listen effectively and persuade rationally;
  • 13. demonstrate the ability to use ICT effectively - the use of electronic data bases in the library, email, word processing, the internet.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary over time, it is envisaged that the syllabus will consider a range of issues that relate to interpretive approaches to research. The content is likely to include:

Methodology and ethics:

  • Interpretive methodologies and  practical concerns relating to research design
  • Criteria of judgment in interpretive research such as credibility, confirmability, coherence, completeness, trustworthiness and transferability
  • The place of qualitative and quantitative data in interpretive research
  • The central place of the researcher in interpretive research, and notions of subjectivity and reflexivity
  • Ethical concerns in different interpretive approaches

 Techniques and sources:

  • Interviewing – ways of asking, listening and recording
  • Observation – ways of looking, seeing and recording
  • Visual methods – ways of seeing, viewing, creating and recording

 Analysis and critique:

  • Different approaches to qualitative data analysis, including grounded theory, discourse analysis, narrative analysis and thematic analysis
  • Processes of theory generation
  • Uses and limitations of data analysis software such as NVivo

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities3010x3 hour teaching sessions (lectures, workshops and seminars), including on campus teaching and recorded sessions
Guided Independent Study70Collaborative group work
Guided Independent Study100Reading and assignment preparation
Guided Independent Study100Writing summative assignment


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written taskEquivalent to 250 words1, 6, 12, 13Written
Written assignment1250 words1, 4, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written Assignment: Reflective journal and essay1005,000 words in total, 3,500 word essay and reflective journal equivalent to 1,500 words1-13Written and grade


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Written Assignment Written Assignment: Reflective journal and essay (As above)1-136 weeks from notification of failure or re-entry onto programme


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Atkins, L. and Wallace, S. (2016) Qualitative Research in Education. London: Sage.

Brinkman, S. and Kvale, S. (2018) Doing Interviews. 2nd Edition. London: Sage.

Cresswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (2nd edition), Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson.

Cresswell, J.W. (2007) Qualitative Enquiry and Research design: choosing among five approaches, London, Sage.

Cresswell, J.W. (2008) Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Method Approaches, London, Sage.

Denzin, N. K., Lincoln, Y. S. (eds) (2018) The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research. 5th edition, Thousand Oaks, Sage.

Denzin, N. K., Lincoln, Y. S. (2003) Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials. London, Sage.

Edwards, R. and Hollan, J. (2014) What is Qualitative Interviewing? London: Bloomsbury.

Flick, U. (2009) An Introduction to Qualitative Research, London, Sage 4th edition.

Gubrium, J., Holstein, J.A., Marvasti, A.B., and McKinney, K.D. (2012) The Sage Handbook of Interview Research: The Complexity of the Craft. 2nd Edition, London, Sage.

Hammersley, M. (2008) Questioning Qualitative Enquiry: Critical Essays, London, Sage.

Haw, K. & Hadfield, M. (2011) Video in social science research, functions and forms. London, Routledge

Koro-Ljungberg, M., Loytonen, T., and Teser, M. (2017) Disrupting Data in Qualitative Inquiry: Engagements with the Post-Critical and Post-Anthpropcentric. Oxford, Peter Lang.

May, T. (2002) Qualitative Research in Action. London, Sage.

Peshkin, A. (2000) ‘The Nature of Interpretation in Qualitative Research, Educational Researcher 29 (9) pp 5-9.

Silverman, D. (2016) Doing Qualitative Research: a practical handbook. 4th edition, London, Sage. Silverman, D. (2006) Interpreting Qualitiative Data. 3rd edition, London, Sage.

Wyse, D., Selwyn, N., Smith, E., and Suter, L.E. (2017) The BERA/SAGE Handbook of Educational Research. London, Sage.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Module has an active ELE page

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Suggested journals:

Qualitative Research

International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education

Qualitative Inquiry

Key words search

Research, Interpretive, Qualitative, Methodology, Methods, Ethics, Design, Analysis.

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date