Introduction to Qualitative Research

Join us for a training course in partnership with the Social Research Association.
  • Event time:
    26th October 2023 09:15 – 27th October 2023 12:45
  • Format:

This live online course shows how to develop a clear understanding of qualitative research, its key features and the different methods that are commonly used. (NatCen trainers, Foundation Level) * Price:  £165 for SRA members, £220 for non-members.  It runs over two mornings and uses Zoom software *


This course is designed to equip participants with a clear understanding of qualitative research, in terms of what its key features are and the different methods that are commonly used within it. It is also intended to give you an appreciation of what qualitative research can be used for and how its findings can be understood and presented to a wider audience.

The course will be delivered through a mixture of taught sessions and practical exercises.

Course objectives

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • describe the key features of qualitative research and its key contributions and applications
  • make informed decisions about which types of research questions are best answered using qualitative approaches
  • contrast qualitative and quantitative approaches and understand when they are best used singly or in combination
  • understand the advantages and disadvantages of different qualitative research methods
  • recognise quality in the design, undertaking and reporting of qualitative research
  • understand how to make use of qualitative research evidence in a credible way


  • The role and use of qualitative methods in social research
  • The key principles of qualitative sampling
  • Qualitative data collection tools and techniques, with a focus on in-depth interviews and focus groups
  • The key principles of managing and analysing qualitative data
  • Talking about and using qualitative data credibly

Who will benefit

We hope this course will be useful to you if you:

  • are new to qualitative research, or about to embark on your first project
  • commission or manage qualitative research in central or local government, health or other applied policy sectors
  • work in a different research discipline (e.g. quantitative research) and are about to collaborate with qualitative researchers or use qualitative research findings


  • Mehul Kotecha
    Qual Innovation Lead and Senior Researcher
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    Mehul Kotecha joined NatCen as a Senior Researcher in March 2008. He has led on a number of qualitative studies including evaluations of back to work programmes (e.g. process evaluation of the Support for the Very Long-Term Unemployed Trailblazer programme), research into financial and material circumstances in old age (e.g. exploring the relationship between material deprivation and pensioner poverty and a study which explored older people's attitudes towards the principle of automatic awards of Pension Credit), and research into education and skills (e.g. a study exploring motivations and barriers to part-time post-16 education).

    Mehul has worked with a diverse range of respondents and has experience of a range of qualitative methods - including in-depth interviews and focus groups. Prior to this, Mehul was a Research Fellow at the Institute of Primary Care and Public Health, based at London South Bank University - where he also received his doctorate in Sociology.

  • Sarah Sharrock
    Senior Researcher
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    Sarah is a mixed-methods Senior Researcher in the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)’s Crime and Justice team. She has extensive experience of complex and sensitive research with a broad range of participant groups, including victims and survivors of crime, and service users in prison, probation, and community settings.

    She is a member of NatCen’s Research Ethics Committee; she also delivers training in qualitative methods to NatCen staff and external organisations. Sarah holds an MSc in Social Research Methods from the University of Surrey, where her dissertation explored women’s experiences of homelessness and support services.