Introduction to Facet Methodology (Online)

Key information

Start date:
20 November 2024
Attendance dates:

20 November 2024

Time commitment:
9:30am - 4:30pm
Distance learning
Contact details:


This course introduces participants to facet methodology, a multi-faceted approach that enables researchers to explore complex phenomenon in a creative way using a range of methods to explore different elements of a single entity. It steps “outside or beyond existing ways of thinking about” multiple lines of enquiry to a research problem (Mason 2011:76). It approaches a research question as a gemstone, imagining that the different sides or facets of the gemstone will refract ‘light’ or knowledge in different ways depending on how the gemstone is illuminated. It aims to demonstrate how facets can be examined as being “connected and entwined”, rather than separate entities (Mason 2011:79). Facet methodology offers researchers a creative way to explore the connections within complex phenomenon.

This course will provide an introduction to the approaches and uses of facet methodology, and how it can be used within research through practical examples and in our own research design. It will also evaluate and differentiate facet methodology from other methods. 

The course is primarily designed for researchers with some understanding of basic qualitative and quantitative methods, but will be exploring how different research methods can be employed through facet methodology. This course is ideal for researchers who want to study large, complex phenomenon with many moving parts, but are not sure how to tie everything together. The course leader is an experienced social researcher who will draw on her own research and use of methods, as well as established practice within the social sciences.

Taught online in a small group setting, the sessions will use practical exercises to introduce facet methodology to researchers and provide them with the opportunity to apply their new knowledge to their own research. The course leader will also be happy to address specific queries raised by course participants either during the sessions or in the breaks.

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 what facet methodology is
  • To explain how facet methodology differs from mixed methods
  • To demonstrate how to identify facets in complex phenomenon
  • To evaluate facet methodology
  • To design a research plan with a facet methodological approach.

Course content

  • What is facet methodology?
  • Conceptualising the ‘gem stone’
  • Identifying facets in complex phenomenon
  • Is facet methodology mixed methods?
  • Discussing current research design for facet methodology
  • Facet methodology case study
  • Evaluating facet methodology 
  • Developing facet methodology research design.

Learning and teaching methods

  • Presentations
  • Discussions
  • Guided exercises
  • Independent group exercises.

Course leader

Robyn Muir profile image

Dr Robyn Muir

Lecturer in Media and Communications

Robyn Muir is a Lecturer in Media and Communication in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey. She is an experienced social researcher, with expertise in facet methodology, audience research, research with young people and autoethnography. Her research interests are in the representation of gender in cultural phenomenon, where she has published and won awards for her work on the Disney Princess Phenomenon.

Entry requirements

A basic understanding of standard qualitative and quantitative methods will be helpful.

Fees and funding

Price per person:


UGPN student discount


Students (all non-UGPN)


UGPN staff discount


Education and charitable sector applicants


Government and commercial sector applicants

What these fees include

Online course materials.

Funding opportunities

Participants applying for either UGPN discount will need to use their University email address to be eligible.

  • North Carolina (NC) State University:  
  • University of Sāo Paulo (USP): 
  • University of Wollongong: 
  • University of Surrey:

All staff and students at any of the above institutions are now eligible for the UGPN discount as part of UGPN.

How to apply

Applications will be through our online store. 

Apply now

Terms and conditions

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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. 

Short Courses Administration Team

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH