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Unit outline_

SCLG3701: Social Inquiry: Qualitative Methods

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study trains students to a range of qualitative research. Students examine the methodological issues in contemporary sociology and their impact on the research process. Students will also undertake practical exercises in order to learn to appreciate and use a selection of research approaches and methods.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 2000 level in Sociology
SCLG2002 or SCLG2521 or SCLG2602
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Fiona Gill,
Lecturer(s) Fiona Gill,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Participant Observation Task
25% Week 10
Due date: 08 May 2020 at 23:59
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Qualitative Interview Exercise
30% Week 10
Due date: 08 May 2020 at 23:59
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Research Reflection Exercise
45% Week 13
Due date: 29 May 2020 at 23:59
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Exploring the murky waters of qualitative research: an introduction to the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Week 02 Research with purpose: a case study Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Research case study Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 03 Ethics in research: minimising harm and promoting good practice Lecture (2 hr) LO2
Ethics in research Tutorial (1 hr) LO2
Week 04 Getting personal: research and reflexivity Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Reflexivity in research Tutorial (1 hr) LO3
Week 05 The uninvolved? Unobtrusive and online methods Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Online and unobtrusive research Tutorial (1 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 06 Entering the field: fieldwork and ethnographic research Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Participant observation 1 Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 07 In focus: ethnography, triumph, trial and terror Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Participant observation 2 Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 08 Interviewing: form and function Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Interviewing Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 09 Interviewing: the reality and experience Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Interviewing 2 Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 10 Interpreting and coding data Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Data Analysis Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 11 Designing a research project: where to begin Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Research design and structure Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 12 Writing up research Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Writing up research Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 13 Unit wrap-up Lecture (2 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.

  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.

  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate knowledge of the key issues, debates and methods in qualitative research through a combination of practical experience and case studies of previously completed research projects
  • LO2. understand the ethical and practical implications of a range of different qualitative research methods used by sociologists conducting research and interpreting the research findings of others
  • LO3. reflexively conduct research and communicate the findings in written form with reference to broader debates within sociology and related disciplines
  • LO4. demonstrate the ability to work independently and collaboratively with regard to understanding the main data-collection methods used in qualitative research and assessing their advantages and limitations.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.