Advanced Interviewing: using objects and other prompts

Key information

Start date:
11 June 2024
Attendance dates:

11 June 2024

Time commitment:
1 day
Stag Hill campus, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH
Contact details:


This course moves beyond the basics of qualitative methodology, to consider interviewing in more detail and focuses particularly on how objects and other prompts can be used for data collection. The training will focus on the importance of methods design and fit; decision-making around use of prompts; ethical considerations; implementation skills for using within the interview; overcoming challenges; and implications of the method for analysis and presenting results. 

Object interviewing is where a physical prompt can either be provided by the researcher or brought to the interview by participants as a focus for the interview schedule. Other prompts may also be used such as the creation or co-creation of photographs, sketches, maps or pieces of writing, songs or video that could be used to generate responses and discussion within the interview.

The course is primarily designed for researchers with some understanding of basic qualitative methods, but who wish to gain practical tips for developing their skills further and extending their methodological toolkit. It is therefore a good choice as a CPD option for researchers at all levels. 

The course leader is an experienced social researcher who will draw on her own research and use of these methods, as well as established practice within the social sciences.

Taught on campus in a small group setting, the session will explain and evaluate this advanced technique and will include examination of research case studies. It will also be interspersed with practical exercises to build your own skills and confidence in them and there will be opportunities for troubleshooting projects you are working on or plan to do. The course leader will also be happy to address specific queries raised by course participants.

Please note: this course does not cover the use of computer software programmes to assist qualitative data analysis. See events run by the CAQDAS networking project at the University of Surrey for training on specific CAQDAS packages.

Learning outcomes

  • To understand the nature of qualitative methodology and creative ways to approach data collection
  • To be able to reflect on the strengths, weaknesses and appropriate application of using objects and other prompts within interviews 
  • To apply the techniques explored in practical data collection sessions and to reflect on your skills development 
  • To understand the ethic and analytic considerations of using these methods.

Course content

  • The nature of qualitative data and creative approaches to collection
  • Object interviewing as a method for delving deeper
  • Practical exercises in pairs and small groups 
  • Final reflections, troubleshooting and ongoing sources of support.

Learning and teaching methods

Presentations, discussions, guided exercises, independent group exercises.



Course leader

Jill Timms profile image

Dr Jill Timms

Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Jill Timms has over 20 years’ experience in social research and teaching social research methods. Her research interests are in the sociology of work and organisations, sustainability as it relates to jobs and supply chains, corporate social responsibility, global activism and methodological innovation. Jill is a full-time Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department at Surrey University and Co-Director of our Short Courses Programme. 

Entry requirements

A basic understanding of standard qualitative methods will be helpful. This course also leads on well from our day course on Advanced Qualitative Methods, however the two are designed to be taken independently.

Fees and funding

Price per person:




Education and charitable sector applicants


Government and commercial sector applicants

What these fees include

Course materials, lunch and refreshments.

How to apply

Applications will be through our online store.

Apply now

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations and our terms and conditions. You are also confirming you have read and understood the University's prospective student privacy notice.

Further details of our terms and conditions will follow.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the commencement of the course. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read the full disclaimer.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

Carrie Lee

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH