Taking Deliberative Research Online

This live course explores the principles, benefits and limitations of deliberative approaches to social research and in particular the challenges.
  • Event time:
    27th September 2023 10:00 – 28th September 2023 13:00
  • Format:

Deliberative research is emerging as a critical method for exploring public attitudes particularly on social and policy problems that are contested, complex or uncertain.  This live course explores the principles, benefits and limitations of deliberative approaches to social research and in particular the challenges and opportunities of delivering these online.  We cover a combination of theory and practical examples to consider both doing deliberative research and being a deliberative researcher. This course does not focus on the analysis of deliberative data.

This short course (run across two consecutive mornings) is suitable for those with existing experience of the theory and practice of qualitative research and aimed at those who have responsibility for designing as well as overseeing the delivery of research projects.

The course covers:

  • an overview of the theoretical principles of deliberation and how these are more recently being used in answering social research questions
  • the uses, benefits and limitations of these methods in both on and offline contexts
  • how to design, conduct and facilitate a synchronous online deliberative workshop using video technology
  • specific guidance on the role of the moderator in events including strategies for participation
  • the competencies and ethics of being a deliberative researcher

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

  • Differentiate between deliberative research and other analogous methods (e.g. focus groups) and understand when it is appropriate to use deliberative approaches
  • Design and conduct an online deliberative workshop
  • Understand the role and key skills required of moderators
  • Identify the ethical considerations and frameworks useful to deliberative research

Provisional timetable. All sessions are synchronous and all are group sessions.

Day 1 (27th September)

10.00am: Arrival and Introductions.  Learning about each other and the course. 

10.30am: Defining Deliberation.  A theory based introduction to the course topic and the use of deliberative approaches in social research. 

11.30am: Break

11.45am: Benefits, Limitations and Competencies.  An applied discussion on putting the principles of deliberative research into practice. 

12.45pm: Questions and close by 1pm.

Day 2 (28th September)

10.00am: Welcome back and reflections on Day 1.

10.15am: Synchronous Online Deliberative Workshops.  A 2 hour practical session (including a break) involving the collective planning and delivery of a typical deliberative workshop.  Together we will explore the specific considerations for this method as well as the competencies required of researchers to work in this way.   We will also use some of this time to identify what topics or questions you would like to cover in the open space session that follows.

12.15am: Open space – participant led.  A chance to ask questions or invite further discussion on any of the content covered to this point.

12.50am: Final questions and close by 1pm.


The fee per teaching day is:• £30 per day for registered students• £60 per day for staff at academic institutions, Research Councils researchers, public sector staff, staff at registered charity organisations and recognised research institutions. • £100 per day for all other participants. In the event of cancellation by the delegate a full refund of the course fee is available up to two weeks prior to the course.


  • Duncan Grimes
    Research Director
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    Duncan is interested in how the public makes sense of complex issues, and how research can help them become more involved in solutions.

    Prior to joining the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), his work in qualitative public opinion research enabled him to understand how people approach the issues important to them. This included everything from what chocolate box to gift family members to what party to vote for, and the impact of inequality on society. Duncan has since then specialised in understanding attitudes towards extremism and institutional trust in Iraq by establishing a team of local researchers. When he returned to the UK, he wanted to use qualitative research to involve people in the decisions that affect their lives. Through a job in engagement, he supported people to be involved in the closure of local A&E departments, location of radioactive waste disposal and lockdown exit strategies. Duncan joined the Centre for Deliberation to apply his public opinion and engagement background to projects focused on democratic innovation.

    His work in the Centre for Deliberation starts with where the public are at – their key frames and narratives on a given social issue – and then uses participatory techniques to design a process that enables people to give an informed view and influence policy. Some of the Centre's work is about bringing national issues to the public – online workshops and peer research tasks to ask, ‘How can society support us to live healthier longer lives?’. Other projects build out from community level –  training Bedfordshire residents as peer researchers to understand the reasons behind disproportionate impact of COVID-19.