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Qualitative methodology for public health, 5 Credits

Swedish name: Kvalitativa metoder inom folkhälsovetenskap

This syllabus is valid: 2016-09-19 and until further notice

Course code: 3FH047

Credit points: 5

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Public Health: Second cycle, in-depth level of the course cannot be classified

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Established by: Programme council for the International Master Programme in Public Health (PRPH), 2016-09-22


The course gives an introduction to the theoretical origins of qualitative research and an overview of qualitative research design. Different aspects and methods relevant to qualitative data collection, i.e. in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and observations are presented. The OpenCode software programme, for facilitating qualitative data analysis, is introduced. Participants are given the opportunity to practice and evaluate data collection methods both in class and as part of home assignments. 

Expected learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
After successful completion of this course the student is expected to:
- Demonstrate understanding of the theoretical origins of qualitative research
- Demonstrate understanding of different qualitative research designs and their relation to data collection methods
- Demonstrate understanding of the ethical issues of conducting research in the field

Skills and Abilities
After successful completion of this course the student is expected to:
- Be able to conduct qualitative research interviews, focus group discussions and observations
- Be able to code transcribed interviews and to conduct descriptive analysis of them

Judgement and approach
After successful completion of this course the student is expected to:
- Critically evaluate qualitative research articles on the basis of their research designs and qualitative criteria for trustworthiness

Required Knowledge

For non-programme students applying as single-course students, the requirements are 120 ECTS, of which a minimum of 30 ECTS are within one of the following: health sciences, environmental health or social sciences.

English proficiency equivalent to English B/6 from Swedish Upper secondary education. Basic entrance requirements for higher studies in Swedish language proficiency is also required if the course is taught in Swedish.

Form of instruction

The course is concentrated to two weeks during the course period. Teaching is performed through plenary lectures, group work, the course web-site, hands-on training and home assignments. Teaching is given in English. 

Examination modes

The examination has three parts; 1) Participation in hands-on-training sessions 2) Presentation of home assignments and 3) a written exam. The written exam will award the following grades: Fail, Pass or Pass with distinction. Only grades of Fail or Pass will be awarded for the hands-on-sessions and presentation of home assignment. Overall grades for the course are: Fail, Pass or Pass with distinction. In order to be awarded Pass for the entire course it is required that all of the examinations must be Passed. To be awarded Pass with distinction it is required that the written exam is awarded Pass with distinction. 

For students who have not received a passing grade at the first written exam on the course, a re-sit exam is arranged. A student who fails two examinations has the right to a change of examiner according to the University’s set of rules. A request to change examiner should be sent to the Board of the Faculty of Medicine.

Other regulations

Start-of-study respite
A respite for the start of studies may be granted under special circumstances. Examples of such circumstances are illness, military service, pregnancy, care of children or other nursing responsibilities etc. A negative decision about start-of-study respite may be appealed to Överklagandenämnden för högskolan.

Course roll call
Attendance is compulsory for the course roll call. A student may be relieved from this obligation only through a decision by the course coordinator and only under special circumstances. Non-attendance without a valid reason may lead to the seat being given to another applicant. A decision about this is made by the course coordinator.

Students have the right to examine whether previous education or equivalent knowledge and skills acquired can be credited for the corresponding course at Umeå University. Application is submitted to Studentcentrum/Examina. Details on crediting can be found at Umeå University's student web,, and the Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6). A refusal of accreditation may be appealed against (Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 12) to the University Appeals Board. This applies to the whole or part of the application for accreditation is refused.
Academic credit transfers are always reviewed individually according to the University’s set of rules and academic credit transfer regulations.


Valid from: 2016 week 36

Qualitative methodology for international public health
Dahlgren Lars, Emmelin Maria, Winkvist Anna, Lindhgren Maria
Umeå : Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences : Health Sciences, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University,c 2004 : 219 s. :
ISBN: 91-7305-680-4
Search the University Library catalogue

Qualitative Research Methods: A data collector’s field guide.
Mack Natasha, Woodsong Cynthia, MacQueen Kathleen M, Guest Greg, Namey Emily
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Family Health International. : 2005 :

Additional articles and course material will be provided