Gain an introduction to qualitative health research.
- Broaden your base of health research skills.
- Explore new ways of understanding the reality of people’s experiences with healthcare.
- Learn why, when and how to use qualitative methods in your research.
You’ll work with highly experienced researchers from our award-winning Health Services Research Unit to examine qualitative research methods for health.
Build credits towards a Masters degree
This online course is part of:
- MSc Applied Health Sciences
- MSc Clinical Nutrition
- MSc Health Economics for Health Professionals
- Master of Public Health (MPH)
- PgCert Research Methods for Health
You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards any of these postgraduate qualifications.
What you’ll study
Qualitative research seeks to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of phenomena or human behaviours.
Qualitative researchers use a variety of methods to develop deeper understanding of how people perceive their social realities and, in consequence, how they act within the social world.
This course will introduce you to these qualitative approaches. More than just studying these methods, you’ll gain hands-on experience, engaging in qualitative research yourself.
You’ll study the full research process:
- Planning to conduct relevant research.
- Choosing the right methods to generate, handle and analyse qualitative data.
- Communicating your findings to the public, the media and academics.
- Focusing on issues of rigour, quality and ethics.
You’ll leave the course equipped to carry out your own successful qualitative research studies in future.
By the end of this course, you’ll be able to…
Describe a range of qualitative data collection methods used within applied health research.
Articulate and justify the relevance of qualitative approaches within health research.
Critically evaluate appropriate qualitative research methods.
Plan and conduct effective, rigorous and ethical qualitative research.
Why study health research online with the University of Aberdeen?
We’re proud winners of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, the highest national honour for a UK university, for sustained excellence in health research over the last 40 years.Why we were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize
Our work has changed clinical practice, policy, legislation and academic method, directly impacting the lives of millions of people.Our research impact
1st in Scotland
We’re rated 1st in Scotland for Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care in the UK’s most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021).
How you’ll study
This distance-learning Qualitative Health Research course is delivered flexibly, 100% online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.
This course is taught at Masters level.
Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.
You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:
- short lectures
- journal articles
- book chapters
- discussion boards with your colleagues and tutors
- the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.
You’ll learn from specialist health researchers and academics from our Health Services Research Unit (HSRU). HSRU has been conducting research and training NHS staff on behalf of the government’s Chief Scientist Office since 1988.
Introduction to Online Learning
We want to make sure you’re confident and comfortable with the online way of working from day one.
So you’ll also get an introduction to our learning platform and how online study works. In this part of the course, you’ll strengthen the academic skills you need to excel in online learning. You’ll find out about School procedures, all the support available to you and how to access help throughout your studies.
The course totals approximately 150 hours of study and assessment time. That’s around 10 – 15 hours per week.
This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes.
You can largely set your own study hours each week to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.
Activities at fixed times
There may be some activities scheduled for fixed times. This could include coursework and assessments with deadlines, or online meetings with your tutor. Otherwise, you can access and work through the course at your convenience.
Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your tutors via MyAberdeen and email. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.
We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:
- Careers and Employability Service – including one-to-one advice sessions
- Disability support
- IT support
- Library support
- Student Support Service – help with finances, stress, wellbeing and non-academic issues
- Student Learning Service – study support, with advice sessions available via phone or Skype
- Aberdeen University Students’ Association (AUSA) – run by students for students
- Toolkit – clever apps and free training that can make your study life easier
Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.
Your teaching team
Dr Zoё Skea – Course coordinator
Zoë joined us in 1999 and works in our Health Services Research Unit. She has extensive expertise in qualitative methods. Zoë’s current research investigates patients’ perspectives of their care and treatment, and clinician-patient relations.View Zoё’s profile
Dr Heather Morgan
Heather is a multidisciplinary social scientist. Her interests lie in digital health research. She’s won multiple awards for engaging the public in science and research and has helped secure over £1.6m in research funding.View Heather’s profile
Where this will take you
Towards a Masters
You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards our:
Masters in Applied Health Sciences
Fast-track your career in healthcare with our uniquely flexible MSc Applied Health Sciences. Study 100% online or combine with on-campus courses at our Foresterhill Health Campus. 10% discount for NHS staff.View MSc Applied Health Sciences
Masters in Clinical Nutrition
Join an online Nutrition degree accredited by the Association for Nutrition. Study the link between diet and health, and how issues of over and undernutrition affect populations today. 10% discount for NHS staff.View MSc Clinical Nutrition
Masters in Health Economics for Health Professionals
Advance your career in health. Develop sought-after research skills and build your knowledge of health economics tools and principles. 10% discount for NHS staff.View MSc Health Economics for Health Professionals
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Join an online Master of Public Health (MPH) you can tailor to your career. Study with experts and choose from a wide range of courses to focus your training. 10% discount for NHS staff.View Master of Public Health (MPH)
PgCert in Research Methods for Health
Learn to design and carry out healthcare research projects. Study part-time with active health researchers at an award-winning health sciences university. 10% discount for NHS staff.View PgCert Research Methods for Health
Build your learning with more short courses
We have a range of online healthcare and medicine short courses you can use to build your skills.
Many carry credits you can build up into postgraduate qualifications, including Masters degrees:
If you’re considering a career in academic research, this course will help you get there.
Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Talk to them to find out more.
We welcome students from all over the world.
This course has no formal entry requirements. You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications.
But you do need to check the entry guidance above to understand the level of teaching delivered, to decide if this course is right for you.
If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check the equivalent teaching level for your country.
You do not need a visa to study online with us.
English language requirements
Teaching is delivered in English.
You do not have to provide proof of your English language skills to join this course. But we want to make sure that you can use English well enough to study successfully.
Recommended level of English
This course uses our Postgraduate Higher level of English language proficiency.
These are our Postgraduate Higher requirements, and these are minimum scores.
IELTS Academic and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)
- 6.5 overall
- 5.5 for listening and speaking
- 6.0 for reading and writing
TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition
- 90 overall
- 17 for listening
- 21 for reading
- 20 for speaking
- 21 for writing
- TOEFL DI code is 0818
Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency
- 176 overall
- 162 for listening and speaking
- 169 for reading and writing
LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken)
- Overall High Pass
- 33 for listening, reading and speaking
- 38 for writing
PTE Academic (online test not accepted)
- 62 overall
- 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing
For more information about language qualifications see our English Language Requirements page.
You will need access to:
A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:
- Windows 10 or later
- macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.
Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.
Reliable internet access
- a wired connection
- a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.
Speakers or headphones
- We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
- A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one for some interactive sessions.
We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.
If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.
See our detailed IT requirements for more information.
When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.
But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.
Your most important commitment to your course will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.
Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your course each week:
- Be realistic
- Create a weekly schedule as a guide
If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.
Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.
We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.
Ways to save
You may be able to get help funding this course via:
- discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
- employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors.
All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.
This online course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.
The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:
- a relevant 2:2 (second-class) degree
- or relevant experience that supports this level of study.
You don’t have to have any previous knowledge of qualitative research, but you should have an interest in public health issues.