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Qualitative Data Analysis

Key Information

Course details
Digital Social Research Methods Option Group B; Hilary Term
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Dr Grant Blank


Analysis of qualitative data gathered during the course of social research about the Internet requires both a set of specialized skills and an understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative approaches to social research. This course 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.

This course is designed to give students experience analysing qualitative data, and to give them a conceptual understanding of the reasons for using qualitative analytic approaches, the limits of the techniques 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. Sessions will require the students to work with and analyse the data they have collected, using appropriate methods and software.


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

  • Describe various approaches to interpretation of qualitative data;
  • Learn about different qualitative analysis software options in order to identify a suitable package that meets the specific analytical needs of their research projects;
  • Use qualitative analysis software to assist in organising and managing qualitative data;
  • Develop their analysis skills and learn how qualitative data analysis works in practice;
  • Develop coding schemes corresponding to the theoretical orientation, research questions and analytical strategy of their final assignment for the course;
  • Apply analytic techniques to qualitative data, and write a paper based on that analysis.

Past projects

Students taking this course have analysed the meaning that can be extracted from a body of tweets, the patterns of posts in online message boards, the rhetoric used when discussing contentious issues online, motivations for participation in online communities, and other sorts of data from YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, and a whole host of online sources.