Search for contacts, projects,
courses and publications

Qualitative Methods in Public Health


Fadda M.

Course director


By the end of the course, students will become familiar with:

  • the most commonly used qualitative methodologies, including observations, interviews and focus groups;
  • the ways in which qualitative and quantitative approaches can be combined;
  • the main steps involved in study design, data collection and data analysis;
  • writing up and presenting qualitative research results.
Course Description

Why is a small community in Canton Vaud strongly against the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination? How do Somali women experience a diagnosis of breast cancer? How do intensive care unit professionals cope with severe burnout? Qualitative research seeks to answer questions regarding social phenomena so that we can better understand our world and why things are the way they look like. In this course, you will learn the principles and practice of qualitative research in the public health context.

Learning Methods

Frontal lectures, discussions, readings, videos, podcasts and real fieldwork will help you obtain the knowledge and the skills that are necessary to undertake your independent qualitative research project.


Students’ class attendance is requested. Minimum attendance to validate the course is 50%.

Examination Information

Your final grade will be composed of two subgrades:

  • My journey through qualitative research. This will be your personal reflection on your qualitative research experience on the ePortfolio and will represent 50% of your final grade.
  • In the field: conducting a qualitative study. In groups of 2-3 students, you will develop and conduct an interview study on a public health-related topic of your preference. This will account for 50% of your final grade and will be presented orally to the class at the end of the course.

Please, keep in mind that USI’s evaluations are on a 1-10 scale, where 6 is the threshold to validate the course. Evaluations may be rounded to .5

Required Material

  • The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, Norman K. Denzin & Yvonna S. Lincoln
  • Further readings will be uploaded on iCorsi every week


General principles

  • Students are invited to use the course’s iCorsi platform to receive all teaching materials and for any pedagogical interactions (e.g., by means of forums).
  • Every week, we will discuss a new topic and students will be provided with suggested readings for the following week to facilitate group discussions. However, students are free to choose other readings or different resources (such as videos, pictures, books, etc.) as alternatives.