Master of Health Studies (MHST) 712

Advanced Qualitative Methods for Health Research


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Delivery Mode: Paced/home-study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: For MHS Students: MHST 601, MHST 603
For MN-Gen Students: NURS 603, NURS 608

Faculty: Faculty of Health Disciplines

Centre: Centre for Nursing and Health Studies


The purpose of MHST/NURS 712 is to provide students with the background, tools, and methodology to perform a qualitative research project and to analyze the results of the study. It will build on the course work completed in MHST/NURS 603. It extends and deepens the exploration of methods with the intent to help students choose the approach that is best suited to their thesis study. The course introduces students to the use of computer software management and presentation of qualitative data.

Course Goals

MHST/NURS 712 is designed to help students achieve the following course goals.

  1. Develop knowledge in the philosophy, values, and ethical considerations unique to qualitative research;
  2. Distinguish among research methodologies used in a variety of qualitative approaches;
  3. Develop research questions select a method, and construct a plan for answering the question(s);
  4. Develop a plan for generating the data;
  5. Develop skills in coding data;
  6. Develop a plan for analyzing and representing the data using the selected method;
  7. Examine what is involved in writing up a qualitative research study;
  8. Develop skills in using a qualitative data software program for the management of data.

Course Materials

MHST/NURS 712 comprises online and print-based course materials.

Online Materials

  • Introduction: Provides essential information about the course design and materials.
  • Schedule: Outlines the timing of course activities.
  • Units: There are 8 units in this course.
  • Assessment: Outlines the assignments/evaluation procedure of the course.
  • Reference: Listing of required readings and web sites included in the course.


The textbooks listed below are used in this course.

Creswell, J.W. and Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks. CA: Sage.

Glesne, C. (2016). Becoming qualitative researchers: An introduction (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Online Resources

An excellent resource that can be used and referred to throughout the course is the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology. It provides links to numerous training and networking opportunities as well as the International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

Video links will be provided in different units throughout the course as a way of adding some variety and interest for relevant topics.

Course Structure

In this course, you will access health-related websites worldwide. You will also participate in email and computer conferencing with other students. Students are expected to connect to an Internet Service Provider at their own expense.

Technical Requirements

Computer System

In order to successfully complete this course, you must own or have ready access to certain computer hardware and software programs. For complete and up-to-date information on the minimum computer requirements required to complete the graduate nursing courses, visit the Centre for Nursing and Health Studies technical site.

Course Outline

Unit 1: Advanced Qualitative Methods: Beginnings and Evolution
In the first unit of the course students begin to explore the context within which qualitative research occurs and the importance of exploring and understanding the roots that shape the various traditions in qualitative research, including differing methodological approaches and philosophic orientations.

Unit 2: Issues of Design in Qualitative Research
In this unit students explore characteristics common among qualitative approaches to inquiry and examine the process of designing a qualitative research project. Issues that are part of the design also are examined.

Unit 3: Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry
In Unit 3 students explore a variety of approaches to qualitative research and begin to think about their own areas of interest and which approach might be the one that will help them address their own research question(s). As well, students explore the relationship between purpose and design in research and consider the implications this for qualitative research.

Unit 4: The Process of Data Collection
In this unit students explore data collection activities and the role that each plays in a general sense and then within each approach to inquiry.

Unit 5: Data Analysis and Representation
In Unit 5 students explore the processes of data analysis, which centres around organizing, giving structure to, and eliciting meaning from the research data that has been collected.

Unit 6: Writing Up Qualitative Research
In this unit students explore what it is like to write from a variety of research perspectives and learn some of the nuances that will help them to recognize what particular approaches might look like when they are completed.

Unit 7: Standards of Validation and Evaluation: The Need for Critical Reflection
In this unit, students explore perspectives of quality and credibility in qualitative research and consider ways in which to arrive at an evaluation of the credibility of qualitative research studies.

Unit 8: Coming Full Circle: Beginning to End and Back Again
In the closing unit of the course, students explore what is meant by “turning” the story. It is hoped that they will come to the understanding that qualitative research can come full circle in their understanding of a phenomenon and that in coming full circle, their understanding increases, broadens, and invites a continuing search for yet deeper knowing and understanding.

Assessment Structure

In the MHS and MN:Gen programs, students must achieve an overall program GPA of 2.7 ( B- or 70 percent), to graduate. The minimum passing grade requirement for each MHS and MN:Gen course is C- (60 percent).

The following course activities will contribute to your course grade, with the percentage weighting of each activity as follows:

Conference Participation 10%
Assignment 1 20%
Assignment 2 20%
Assignment 3 40%
Assignment 4 10%
Total 100%

Conference Participation (10%)

Feedback regarding conference participation will be ongoing. Quality of input (not quantity) is the goal. Feedback will focus on the student's ability to provide organized and original contributions that reflect analysis and synthesis of the material presented.

Participation Criteria

Participation will be measured against the following criteria:

  1. Complete online contributions during the unit conference timeframe.
  2. Respond to online discussions at least twice each week.
  3. Contribute original thoughts or ideas to online discussions.
  4. Cite relevant resources to validate points made.
  5. Demonstrate openness to divergent points of view.
  6. Be respectful of the perceptions of others.
  7. Integrate material from previous units to formulate ideas and generate dialogue.
  8. Present responses that follow the rules of grammar and spelling in the online contributions.

Assignment 1: Health/Health Issues as Reflected in the Canadian News

Assignment 1 asks you to collect raw data from articles/information in the popular press (could be journal articles/magazines, newspapers, online blogs etc.). For Assignment 1, you do the following:

  • Collect raw data from articles (examples of what you might record are explained below)
  • Code the data you collect - Develop themes for the data (thematizing)
  • Begin a research journal (methodological journal to document your activities and decision making processes).

Assignment 2: Writing the Story

Using the data from Assignment 1, "write the story" that reflects the answer to your research question that you developed in Assignment 1.

Assignment 3: Qualitative Research Method Term Paper

Select a qualitative research methodology (one we have studied in the course, or if you have an interest in another methodology, check it out with the course professor).The intent of this assignment is for you to develop an in-depth understanding of a selected qualitative research method and apply it to a topic of interest in each phase of the research process.

Assignment 4: Activity Using Qualitative Research Software: NVivo

This activity will be created using the data from Assignment 1. You will be introduced to a qualitative research software program (NVivo) and learn how to use it to manage and work with your qualitative data.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Updated January 14 2019 by Student & Academic Services