Social Research Methods and the Internet II: Advanced Qualitative Analysis

Availability: Compulsory for OII MSc students. MSc students must take either this course or Advanced Quantitative Analysis. Students must agree with their Supervisor by Week 4 of Michaelmas Term which advanced course they wish to take. DPhil students can choose to take this course should they wish. Students need to first agree with their Supervisor before informing the Graduate Studies Coordinator.

Schedule: Hilary Term (Weeks 1-8), Mondays 12:00-14:00, plus 3 Friday workshops (31 January 12:00-13:30, 14 February 13:00-16:00, 28 February 13:00-16:00).

Location: Seminar Room, Oxford Internet Institute, 1 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3JS (Weeks 4 and 6 at the OUCS Evenlode suite, tbc).

Reading list: Social Research Methods and the Internet II: Advanced Qualitative Analysis



The study of the Internet and related information and communication technologies (ICTs) provides new opportunities and challenges for the social sciences. Social Research Methods and the Internet provides students with the knowledge and skills to conduct and critically evaluate empirical research on the social implications of the Internet.

This course consists of five elements. All students must take Research Methods I and Statistics in Michaelmas term. In Hilary term all students must take Research Methods II and either Advanced Quantitative Analysis or Advanced Qualitative Analysis. In doing so, students by the end of the course will

  • understand the significance of alternative epistemological positions that provide the context for theory construction, research design, and the selection of appropriate analytical techniques;

  • develop an ability to conduct and manage all stages of the research process from developing research questions and hypotheses to presenting and disseminating findings;

  • understand how to devise appropriate research questions and research designs;

  • acquire analytical and interpretive skills for a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches to data collection;

  • understand how to use online tools and statistical techniques that support the research process (e.g. from statistical software to computer-assisted qualitative analyses).

A summary of the structure and assessment of Social Research Methods and the Internet is below. Full details of each element are provided in the relevant outline.

Course structure and assessment




Weighting (% of final mark)


Michaelmas Term

Research Methods I

3,000 word essay


Week 8

Michaelmas Term


3 hour exam


Week 9

Hilary Term

Research Methods II

3,000 word essay


Week 8

Hilary Term

Advanced Quantitive Analysis

3 hour exam


Week 9

Hilary Term

Advanced Qualitative Analysis

5,000 word report


Week 9


Analysis of qualitative data gathered during the course of social research and the Internet requires both a set of specialized skills and an understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative approaches to social research. This course will have a strong theoretical basis throughout, and is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to carry out qualitative data analysis of a variety of kinds of data (e.g. text, photos, videos) collected from both online and offline settings. Students will gain familiarity with techniques for using a variety of Internet-related methods, and will understand their challenges.

Course Objectives

This course is designed to give students experience both collecting and analysing qualitative data, and to give them a conceptual understanding of the reasons for using qualitative approaches, the limits of the methods they will be using, and the opportunities and challenges unique to qualitative social research methods and the Internet.

Each week, students will develop their conceptual understanding and analysis skills via the discussion of key academic texts and through working with authentic qualitative data. In week 2, students will be required to start developing and conducting their own small case study using different kinds of qualitative data. Later sessions will require the students to work with and analyse the data they have collected, using appropriate methods and software.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Identify, gather, manage, and analyse multiple types of qualitative data

  • Describe various approaches to interpretation of qualitative data

  • Understand the ethical considerations unique to qualitative methods

  • Apply analytic techniques to qualitative data, and write a paper based on that analysis

  • Use qualitative analysis software to assist in managing and interpreting data

Teaching Arrangements

The course will be taught during Hilary term in eight weekly classes, consisting of a mix of lectures, hands-on work, student presentations, and seminar discussion.

There will also be a one-day mandatory workshop teaching students how to use the software package NVivo. This workshop will be taught by the OUCS IT Learning Programme, and will provide the technical skills needed to work with the data in the course. In 2012, this workshop will be held at OUCS ROOM and time and date will be confirmed.

Each student will be required to submit formative work throughout the term:

  • Each week, all students should submit a one-page reflection on the readings for the week to Mark Graham. These reflections should be a combination of critical questions on the themes of the reading and questions about anything you don’t understand, either in the readings or in the course more generally. These should be submitted by email each week by 5 PM on Wednesday.

  • Additionally, several specific assignments are indicated in the weekly reading lists, and are due by noon on the Thursday preceding the class. These formative assignments consist of a mix of short essays, data gathering exercises, and data analysis and should be submitted by email to Eric Meyer.

Schedule for Social Research Methods and the Internet II: Advanced Qualitative Analysis (Hilary Term)



Week 1

Foundations of the qualitative approach on and off-line

Week 2

Understanding qualitative data and tools

Week 3

Interviews and focus groups

Week 4

Establishing truth: Reliability, validity, and the nature of qualitative data

Week 5

Analysis of non-textual data

Week 6

Content analysis

Week 7


Week 8

Analysing and communicating the findings from multiple data sources


The course will be formally assessed by means of a final report of 5,000 words on the case study project each student has carried out during the course. This report will focus on a critical analysis of the available literature, presentation of the findings and evaluation of the approaches to analysis that the student employed. Additional details about the form, content, and structure of the report will be discussed during class sessions.

The report is due by 12:00 noon on Friday of Week 9, Hilary Term and should be submitted to the Examinations School. The report should also be submitted electronically by 5:00 pm on the same day (Friday of Week 9) to The report should follow the normal OII formatting guidelines. More details about the content of the report will be provided and discussed during the course.

Any student failing this assessment will need to follow the rules set out in the OII Examining Conventions regarding re-submitting failed work.

(Please note that the assessment for this course is different for DPhil students. DPhil students should please refer to the Graduate Studies Handbook for guidance).

Extra Notes

Students should note that over the course of the year, small changes may be made to the content, dates or teaching arrangements set out in this reading list, at the course provider's discretion. These changes will be communicated to students directly and will be noted on the internal course information website.