spring 2020
HEL-8025 Qualitative Methods in Health Research - 3 ECTS

Last changed 11.08.2021

Application deadline

PhD students and students at the Student Research Program at UiT - The Arctic University of Norway register for class and exam by September 1st in autumn semester and February 1st in spring semester.

Other applicants must apply before June 1st in autum semester and December 1st in spring semester. Application code 9303 in Søknadsweb.

Type of course

PhD course. This course is available for both program students and course students.

Admission requirements

PhD students or holders of a Norwegian master´s degree of five years or 3+ 2 years (or equivalent) may be admitted. PhD students must upload a document from their university stating that they are registered PhD students. This group of applicants does not have to prove English proficiency and are exempt from semester fee.

Holders of a Master´s degree must upload a Master´s Diploma with Diploma Supplement / English translation of the diploma. Applicants from listed countries must document proficiency in English. To find out if this applies to you see the following list:https://www.nokut.no/en/surveys-and-databases/nokuts-country-database/GSU-list/

Proficiency in English must be documented - list of countries

For more information on accepted English proficiency tests and scores, as well as exemptions from the English proficiency tests, please see the following document:https://uit.no/Content/254419/PhD_EnglishProficiency_100913.pdf

Proficiency in English - PhD level studies  

It is recommended that PhD students have followed HEL-8010 Research Ethics and Theory of Science before this course is taken.

Course overlap

HEL-8011 Qualitative method 3 stp
HEL-8015 Qualitative Research Skills Development 2 stp
HEL-8016 Challenges and Opportunities for Qualitative Methods in Clinical Research on Mental Health 2 stp
HEL-8042 Qualitative methodology and methods in health researchs 2 stp

Course content

Qualitative research methods are used increasingly in medical research and health research overall. The methods primarily are applied in studies of the implementation and organization of health services, collaboration between patients and health personnel, and in studies of individuals¿ perceptions of health and illness. This course will give the participants useful knowledge on qualitative research designs, as well as provide a necessary background to understand qualitative research papers. Together with other methodological training, it will give a broad competence in assessing health research fields from different angles, a competence that is central to a research education in health sciences.

To choose qualitative methods requires a reflective assessment of the consistency between theory of science, objective and design. Whatever objective one wishes to pursue it has bearings on the research design, and coherence and consistency between theories of science and the justification of method and analytic strategies is necessary. Other dimensions such as validity, ethics and quality criteria are also part of the research process and must be seen in connection with the basic choice of theory of science. 

To be able to ensure that one¿s own and others¿ research has ¿methodological consistency¿, knowledge and understanding of the coherence between the basic elements in different qualitative research designs is therefore necessary. Choosing qualitative methods in research requires us to answer questions about why the method(s) is relevant for the chosen research problem and its theoretical scientific position.

This course introduces the most commonly used qualitative methods (participant observation, qualitative methods, focus group discussions) with a special focus on the consistency between research problems, method and methodology, on what basic assumptions shape the methods and what possibilities and limitations the methods present. The course will demonstrate possible connections to particular methodologies where the consistency between research problem, methodology, method and empirical data will be shown. Including, the course will go through basic principles of sampling, as well as ways to define objectives and research problems, the researcher role, transferability, analytic approaches and ethics in the research process.

Supervised exercises and group discussions will be the pedagogical method that gives the course participants relevant experience of methods. Special emphasis will be on making reflective choices of method based on particular research problems, on which possibilities and limitations such choices imply, as well as to give a basic understanding of how a method is implemented ethically sound and according to acknowledged quality criteria.

Recommended prerequisites

HEL-8010 Research Ethics and Theory of Science, HEL-8040 Theory of science, research ethics and research design

Objectives of the course

The students will understand the distinctiveness and the prerequisites for the use of qualitative methods to the extent that they are able to assess qualitative research designs and plan a qualitative study in health research.



By the end of this course, the candidate has knowledge that enables him/her to

  • Describe and assess theoretical and methodological approaches that qualitative research designs build on.
  • Assess the suitability and conditions for the application of different qualitative research methods (interview, focus group discussions, participant observation) as well as their prerequisites and limitations.
  • Assess the consistency between research problem, methodology and method in a research design.
  • Describe and assess the strengths of qualitative methods and their contribution to health research.



By the end of this course, the candidate has skills that enables him/her to

  • Apply central research principles for planning individual interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation.
  • Formulate relevant research problems for qualitative research, and give an account of principles for sampling, data collection and analysis.
  • Explain basic consistency between qualitative methods and methodological research designs.
  • Assess published qualitative research papers based on quality criteria such as relevance, ethics, trustworthiness and transferability.


General competence

By the end of this course, the candidate is expected to be able to

  • Apply knowledge of different qualitative methods and research designs to plan a qualitative research study with consistency between research problem, methodology and methods.
  • Assess a qualitative research paper based on acknowledged quality criteria.
  • Assess and discuss ethical issues relevant to the use of qualitative methods.
  • Participate in debates on research and research findings based on qualitative methods.

Language of instruction

The course will be taught in English, if any participants do not understand Norwegian.

Teaching methods

The course consists of three full teaching days and combines introductory lectures with exercises/examples for group work or plenary discussions. A high degree of participant involvement and activity is expected.

Final exam

Emnet legges ned og siste mulighet til å avlegge eksamen etter dette semesteret, er høst 2021

Her finner du mer informasjon om eksamen i nedlagte emner


Work requirements

Presence at lectures, minimum 80 % Passed work requirements is valid for the following two terms.

Examination and assessment

Written exam, 15 multiple choice questions and 3 essay questions. Duration 4 hours.

Assessment: passed/not passed.

In case of an evaluation "not passed", the student may take a re-sit exam at the next ordinary exam.

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 3
  • Course code: HEL-8025