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Conducting and Writing Research Using Interviews and Narrative Analysis, 7.5 Credits

Swedish name: Att genomföra och skriva om forskning baserad på intervjuer och narrativ analys

This syllabus is valid: 2023-01-16 and until further notice

Course code: 1ET065

Credit points: 7.5

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Ethnology: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: Three-grade scale

Responsible department: Department of Culture and Media Studies

Established by: Faculty director of studies, Faculty of arts, 2022-09-09


This advanced level course focuses upon interview practice, interview analysis with narrative analysis as a main tool, and writing of qualitative research in English as second language. Participants will develop an understanding of narrative analysis,  conduct their own minor interview study, and write up research results. Further, techniques in genre analysis, translation of data, and composition techniques used for second language writing will be instructed and practiced.
The course provides training in interview analysis, as well as academic writing in English. Participants study varying strands of interview practices and narrative research to examine possibilities, problems and different analytical strategies. In focus also is the interplay between the aims of an interview, its linguistic form, the researcher's choices of potential presentation techniques and the kind of knowledge that may be produced.  The course applies student-centered learning.
Participants will read and discuss research on how to decide upon an interview method and to prepare an interview, as well as conduct interviews using different techniques. They will discuss possible ways to transcribe interviews and to conduct narrative analysis in their own area of research and in relation to what kind of knowledge that may be produced by applying different tools and levels of analysis. Activities and assignments include the reading of theoretical materials about interviewing and narrative methodology, and attending obligatory seminars and workshops about transcribing, identifying narrative themes, and choosing and translating interview excerpts.

Participants will develop awareness of the challenges associated with writing narrative-based research when working in multiple languages, such as translation of interview data, interpreting the meanings of specific narrations as embedded in the participants' source language, and attending to nuances of both the source language and the language of the final text. Participants will explore techniques that allow for adequate transparency regarding the researchers' translations.

Expected learning outcomes

After completing the course (7,5 hp) the student should be able to:
Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate knowledge of and problematize different interview methods and techniques in relation to the aims of knowledge production, then motivate  choice of own praxis. 
  • problematize and motivate the choice of a specific version of narrative analysis in their own study 
  • identify  genre-specific features in discipline-specific research texts and demonstrate awareness of translation practices.

Skills and abilities

  • conduct interviews with the chosen method, transcribe them, and apply a chosen version of narrative analysis to the transcription 
  • active participation in the seminars and workshops 
  •  use data from the interviews and narrative analysis as the basis for writing and revising one's own text, taking into consideration the genre expectations of the participant's own discipline. 

Judgment and approach

  • problematize and reflect upon interview as method, and the influence of the researcher on the interview. 
  • problematize and reflect upon narrative analysis as a scientific approach 
  • problematize translation approaches to interview data and analysis of such data 
  • critically evaluate published literature that uses translated interviews.

Required Knowledge

Eligible requires an undergraduate degree equivalent to a Swedish Bachelor's degree (180 ECTS) from an accredited university or college. Alternatively, eligibility can be met with a minimum of 90 ECTS within one discipline where 15 ECTS were comprised of a degree project. Proficiency required in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English B/6.

Form of instruction

The course is held in English. Teaching consists of lectures, seminars, group exercises, and individual work. When attendance at lectures or exercises is compulsory, that is, of the examining nature, it is specifically stated in the schedule. In case of absence on a compulsory occasion, supplementary information is provided by the teacher.

For those who are registered for a course and have a disability, there are resources for special support. For more information, contact the Student Center.

Examination modes

The course is examined continuously through assignments, participation in mandatory seminars, workshops, and individual exams. Group assignments, workshops and seminars are graded with Pass (Godkänd) or Fail (Underkänd). Individual essays (final exam) are graded with Pass with distinction (Väl godkänd), Pass (Godkänd) or Fail (Underkänd). To pass an individual course (min. grade G) all mandatory parts are required, and the individual essay must have received the grade G. To receive Pass with distinction (VG) for a module, all mandatory parts are required (grade G), and the individual essay must have received the grade VG.
For each examining part of the course there is a regular examination given with a second reexamination within two months after the regular examination. For examinations performed in May and June, the first reexamination are offered within three months of the regular examination. In addition to this, a third reexamination is given within a year after the end of the course. Those who have passed the test may not undergo a re-test for higher grades.

 A student who does not fully meet the objectives of an examination but is close to the limit for a passing grade can, after a decision by the examiner, be given the opportunity to supplement in order to achieve the examination assignment's criteria for a passing grade. Completion of the examination must be adapted individually based on the goal(s) not achieved by the student and must take place within two weeks after the students have been notified of the examination results, but before the next examination opportunity. It is only permitted to supplement an unsuccessful result to pass, supplementation for higher grades is not permitted.

The examiner can decide on deviations from the syllabus' examination form. Individual adaptation of the examination form must be considered based on the student's needs. The examination form is adapted within the framework of the syllabus' expected study results. Students who need an adapted examination must request adaptation from the department responsible for the course no later than 10 days before the examination. The examiner decides on an adapted examination which is then communicated to the student.

To pass the course, all exams and compulsory parts must be passed. The grade constitutes a summary assessment of the results in the various parts of the examination and is only set when all compulsory parts have been approved. To obtain the grade Pass with distinction (VG) on the entire course, the student must have received this grade on the individual essay.

Students who are registered for a course and have registered credits in Ladok on the course have the right to be examined on the course and its parts up to two years after the first registration date. A student who, without a passing grade, has passed an ordinary examination and a re-examination for the course, has the right to have another examiner appointed at the next re-examination, unless there are special reasons to the contrary. Requests for a change of examiner are made to the director of studies at the Department of Culture and Media Studies.

Transfer of credits
The student who wishes to take advantage of education obtained at another department or university (Swedish / foreign) must do so in the order described in Tillgodoräknandeordning vid Umeå universitet (Dnr. 545-3317-02).

The application for credit must be made in writing. The application must state which element or course the application refers to. Certified copies of course certificates or equivalent, stating the university, time, subject affiliation, level, points and grades must be attached. In addition, the syllabus, including bibliography for the courses referred to and, where applicable, essay work, must be attached.

Other regulations

In a degree, this course may not be included together with another course with similar content. In case of doubt, the student should consult the Director of Studies at the Department of Cultural and Media Studies.


Valid from: 2023 week 3

The course literature may be changed / updated if necessary, but no later than two months before the start of the course.

Translation decisions in qualitative research: a systematic framework
Abfalter D., Mueller-Seeger J., Raich M.
. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 24(4) : 2021 :

Doing interviews
Brinkmann Svend, Kvale Steinar
2nd edition : Los Angeles : SAGE : [2018] : xx, 186 pages :
ISBN: 9781473912953
Search the University Library catalogue
Reading instructions: https://search.ub.umu.se/discovery/search?query=any,contains,Doing%20interviews&tab=Everything&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&sortby=date_d&vid=46UMEA_INST:UmUB&facet=frbrgroupid,include,9013879197989684440&lang=sv&offset=0

Caplan Nigel A.
Grammar choices for graduate and professional writers
Second edition : Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press : [2019] : xii, 204 pages :
ISBN: 9780472037315
Search the University Library catalogue

The SAGE handbook of interview research : the complexity of the craft
Gubrium Jaber F., Holstein James A., Marvasti Amir B., McKinney Karyn D.
Second edition. : Thousand Oaks, California : SAGE Publications : 2012 : 1 online resource (x, 613 pages) :
Online access for UMUB
ISBN: 9781452218403
Search the University Library catalogue
Reading instructions: Caretta, M. A. (2015). Situated knowledge in cross-cultural, cross-language research: A collaborative reflexive analysis of researcher, assistant and participant subjectivities. Qualitative Research, 15(4), 489-505.

Words to think with: An introduction
Law J., Mol A.
The Sociological Review Monographs 2020 Vol 68(2) : 2020 :
Reading instructions: pp. 263-282

Mol A.
Not quite clean: Trailing schoon and its resonances
The Sociological Review Monographs 2020 Vol 68(2) : 2020 :
Reading instructions: pp. 385-400

Riessman Catherine Kohler
Narrative methods for the human sciences
London : SAGE : 2008 : 251 s. :
ISBN: 9780761929987
Search the University Library catalogue
Reading instructions: https://search.ub.umu.se/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=alma990009793010404996&context=L&vid=46UMEA_INST:UmUB&lang=sv&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&adaptor=Local%20Search%20Engine&tab=Everything&query=any,contains,kohler%20riessman&offset=0

Skinner J.
Interview. An ethnographic approach
London: Taylor & Francis : 2020 :

Language differences in qualitative research: is meaning lost in translation?
Van Nes F., Abma T., Jonsson H., Deeg D.
European journal of ageing, 7(4) : 2010 :
https://search.ub.umu.se/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=cdi_proquest_journals_2559548427&context=PC&vid=46UMEA_INST:UmUB&lang=sv&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&adaptor=Primo Central&tab=Everything&query=any,contains,Translation decisions in qualitative research: a systematic framework&offset=0
Reading instructions: pp. 313-316

Participants select relevant samples of research within their own discipline in order to conduct genre analysis, approximately 50 pages.