Introduction to Qualitative Interviewing

Key information


This course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of qualitative interviewing in both academic and applied social research. The course is primarily designed for researchers with little or no experience of qualitative interviewing. It will also be useful for more experienced researchers who have had little formal training or who wish to reflect on their practice. The course leader is an experienced social researcher who will draw on her own research as well as established practice within the social sciences.

The day includes a brief introduction to qualitative research and different types of interviews; the purpose of the interview discussion guide; practical tips on recruiting, sampling and carrying out qualitative interviews; and practical exercises on developing an interview guide and carrying out a qualitative interview. We will explore a variety of ethical issues as they arise in discussion. The course leader will 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 analysis of qualitative interview data.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the nature of qualitative research and the place of in-depth interviews within qualitative research.
  • Become familiar with the idea of qualitative interviews as ‘guided conversations’ (Lofland & Lofland, 1995).
  • Design an interview discussion guide for a qualitative interview.
  • Reflect on what constitutes good practice in qualitative interviewing.
  • Understand ethical aspects of qualitative interviewing.

Course content

  • The nature of qualitative research and underlying assumptions
  • Different types of interview
  • The interview process including different types of question and discussion tools
  • Developing an interview discussion guide
  • Practical exercises involving the development of an interview discussion guide and pilot interviews.

Learning and teaching methods

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

Course leader

Sarah Earthy

Senior Lecturer in Health & Social Care, University of Winchester

Sarah Earthy has over 20 years’ experience in social research and teaching social research methods. Her research interests are in the sociology of health and illness, recovery from illness and injury, community, and social exclusion and disadvantage.

Entry requirements

No prior knowledge is necessary.

Fees and funding

Price per person:




Education and charitable sector applicants


Government and commercial sector applicants

What these fees include

You will be provided handouts.

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.

Cancellation policy

You have 14 days, starting with the day after the contract is entered into, during which you may cancel and get a full refund of your course fees, unless the course has already taken place (whether you have attended or not). To do so, please email within this 14 day period, confirming that you are cancelling the contract. After this "cooling off" period, the following policy applies:

Up to 10 working days before the course: refund of fee - minus £20 admin fee 
Up to 5 working days before the course: half refund of fee - minus £20 admin fee 
Under 5 working days before the course: no refund.

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. 

Nita Walker Administrative Officer, Short Courses

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH