Course Descriptions

The EQR courses consistently receive high ratings from students. Based on available evaluations, on average, students agree or strongly agree with all positive measures of both CQ course evaluations (i.e. course met stated objectives, was relevant to student learning and future careers, provided appropriate resource materials and employed appropriate methods of evaluation) and instructor evaluations (i.e. the instructor is accessible to students, clearly communicates concepts and connections, stimulates critical thinking and creates positive learning experiences). Where available, student evaluation comments associated with EQR courses are included in the course descriptions below. Student evaluation comments associated with EQR course instructors are included in the respective instructors' bios.


Introductory Courses

Open to Masters and PhD students:

JRP1000 - Theory and Method for Qualitative Researchers: An Introduction

This course is offered in alternate years within the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH) and the Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Sciences (GDRS). Dr. Pia Kontos in the DLSPH and Dr. Barbara Gibson in the GDRS alternate teaching the course every year. The course provides an introduction to a range of qualitative research methods and theoretical perspectives, with particular emphasis on the role that theory plays across the different stages of the research process. It examines the underlying philosophical assumptions of qualitative research methods, and the implications that these assumptions have for framing a research problem, data collection, analysis, writing, and other dissemination strategies. It also provides some basic opportunities to attain practical, hands-on experience with developing research questions, techniques for data collection, and data analysis. The course has no prerequisites, although some knowledge of social theory is preferred. Priority will be given to students from the two units collaborating in its teaching (GDRS and DLSPH) and to students from other CQ ‘contributing’ departments/programs other.  Course Outline

“The course was perfect for allowing me to get back into the theory of qualitative research and helping me create a more solid foundation of qualitative research methods. The readings and discussion were very useful, and I felt that you facilitated an optimal learning environment. As I mentioned in class, we were so fortunate to have a small class and two excellent teachers.”

NUR1028 - Introduction to Qualitative Research

This course is designed to provide master's students with a strong introduction to the philosophical foundations, approaches and methods associated with qualitative research, and to acquaint students with critical issues and debates among qualitative researchers.  This course will enhance students’ capacities to understand and evaluate qualitative research in nursing and health care. The course is required in the MN program is offered through the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. Taught by Drs. Denise Gastaldo and/or Jan AngusCourse Outline

“This course gave me a better understanding into qualitative research. This course showed me how to analyze and view research from a different perspective and to “hold truth lightly.”

CHL5221 - Community Health Appraisal Methods (CHAM): Introduction to qualitative Research Methods 

This is an introductory course intended for Masters students in public health with limited prior exposure to qualitative research. Students will acquire a sound introductory-level understanding of the qualitative research enterprise, become informed consumers of qualitative research, and be able to participate in the conduct of needs assessments, program evaluations and other applied qualitative public health research. Since this is an introductory course, students pursuing qualitative research for master and doctoral thesis work will need to take additional courses to acquire the required proficiency for that level of research. There are no prerequisites for this course. CHL 5221 is a requirement for MPH Health Promotion, Occupational and Environmental Health and Community Nutrition students. Students from other programs and fields will be admitted space permitting with permission of the instructor. A small number of places in this course are reserved for students in the EQR series from contributing CQ partners. The course is offered through the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, taught by Dr. Ann Fox

EXS5510 - Qualitative Inquiry and Physical Cultural Studies

This course is intended to prepare students interested in physical culture and health research to engage various forms of fieldwork, interviewing and visual methods, whilst highlighting the centrality of theory in research efforts. Through in and out-of-classroom learning, and assigned readings, students gain an awareness of the appropriate qualitative procedures associated with particular research questions, how to interpret and represent qualitative data in a variety of ways, how to critically assess and employ qualitative data, and how to articulate a theoretical point of view through oral/written reports. Students will obtain skills in reading, comparing, critically examining, evaluating, and summarizing the research of others in the context of their work. Throughout the course, emphasis is given to understanding the role of qualitative inquiry in the study of diverse physical cultures and health issues, the importance of policy-driven qualitative research and the cultural politics of conducting qualitative inquiry. Prior exposure to qualitative research is recommended, but there are no formal course prerequisites. A small number of places in this course are reserved for students in the EQR series from contributing CQ programs.  This course is offered through the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. Taught by Dr. Michael Atkinson or Dr. Peter Donnelly. Course Outline

SOC6713 Qualitative Research Methods II: Qualitative Interviewing

This course addresses both the technical and theoretical aspects of qualitative interviewing. It examines the roles of qualitative interviewing in knowledge production and reproduction, the constructive and inter-subjective nature of qualitative interviewing, the practices of reflexivity, hearing data, and interpreting silences. Using primary interview data from immigrant families from the Caribbean, China, Italy, and Sri Lanka, students will learn what types of interview data are needed to understand experiences of immigrant families, how to conduct qualitative interviews to elicit such types of data, how to analyze conceptual baggage in qualitative interviewing, and how to transcribe and analyze interview data. Students will acquire skills in qualitative interviewing by reading good examples and mistakes from transcripts of the 38 immigrant interviews, commenting on and revising the good examples and the mistakes, conducting and transcribing interviews of one's own, and analyzing the interview process, coding interview transcripts, and writing reflective essays. The course is an introductory level course and does not require prior methodological experience. However, because it is a course designed for sociology graduate students, prior experience with social science or completion of JRP 1000 is preferred. Permission of the instructor is required to enroll. The course accepts Master's and PhD level students. This course has a limited enrollment of 10 students, with priority being given to Sociology students. For non-Sociology students, please contact the instructor to be included in a waiting list. It is essential to attend the first class when enrollment-related issues will be sorted out. This course is offered through the Department of Sociology. Taught by Dr. Ping-Chun Hsiung. Not offered in 2014-15. Course Outline

“This course made me know and master the technique of qualitative interviewing, and learn more about methodology. Additionally, it made me to think in a more logical way.” 

Open to PhD students only:

SWK6307H - Designing and Implementing Qualitative Social Work Research

This course is an introduction to qualitative research, and is mandatory for first year Ph.D. students in Social Work. The course will introduce key features and issues in conducting qualitative research, with a focus on grounded theory approaches. Elements of community-based, participatory action research (CBR/CBPR), arts-based research, and indigenous research approaches will also be interwoven into the curriculum, with some introductions to interpretive methodologies. Pros and cons of each methodology are considered, and basic techniques of data collection and analysis are introduced, including interviews, observation, and coding. Selected other topics may include epistemological issues, researcher positionality, ethics, trustworthiness, use of qualitative data analysis programs, and working with community members/advisory boards. The course is constructed to ensure a cohesive progression across theoretical and methodological approaches. Throughout the class, close attention will be paid to our own social identities and their impact on our analysis and interventions. The lab sessions will be an integral part of this course with hands-on exercises and peer consultations to help students acquire basic tools to design and conduct qualitative research. There are two spaces reserved in this seminar course for doctoral students from CQ participating programs. This course is offered through the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, and is taught by Dr. Ramona Alaggia with Billie Allan as the lab instructor. Course outline

"Most valuable learning in course: How to incorporate issues of reflexivity and responsibility into research, engage with dissemination of knowledge.” 

NUR1024 - Foundations of Qualitative Inquiry

This course provides the critical foundations to qualitative research. It examines the conceptual and philosophical bases of various frameworks/approaches to qualitative research and their methodological implications. Specific debates related to theories employed in the field of health, research questions, designs, the positionality of the researcher, rigour, and ethics will be discussed. The course sets the stage for the 'how-to hands-on' instruction that comes in the data generating and analysis courses. The course may be taken by those just entering this methodological arena, or by those familiar with techniques/methods but missing the theoretical dimension. The course is designed for PhD students who have committed to qualitative theses and who are taking the EQR certificate series. There are no prerequisites and enrollment is via ROSI on a first-come-first-serve basis, with priority given to those in the Essentials series, and to those from the participating CQ programs.  This course is offered through the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. Taught by Dr. Denise Gastaldo or Dr. Brenda Gladstone. Course Outline

“I really enjoyed the class. I am happy that I took it because it has offered me a good foundation for future qual pursuits.” 


Intermediate and Advanced Courses (previous training required)


NUR1025 - Doing Qualitative Research: Design and Data Collection

This course addresses theory and practice of qualitative research fieldwork and data gathering. Picking up issues of research design started in NUR 1024, the focus is on the practical, hands-on considerations associated with writing research proposals, entering the field, coordinating fieldwork, techniques of data collection, and data management. Students can begin development of their thesis proposals. Prerequisites: Students must have taken NUR1024, JRP1000 or an equivalent doctoral-level introductory qualiative research course prior to taking this course. Enrollment is by ROSI on a first-come-first serve basis, with preference to those who have taken other courses in the Essentials series, and to students in ‘contributing’ CQ programs. The course is intended for PhD students. This course is offered through the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. Taught by Dr. Jan Angus. Not offered in 2014-15. Course Outline

“The  course material was very helpful in my understanding of the issues and considerations in undertaking qualitative research. The assignments and class facilitation were great ways to apply the knowledge learned from the readings."

SWK 6007H – Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in Social Work

This course will focus on the philosophical underpinnings, techniques and practices that inform interpretive research design and methods in the social and health sciences. Interpretive research—conceptually distinct from the more ubiquitous term ‘qualitative’—signals an attention to the philosophical presuppositions that guide the production of knowledge and meaning making; given different understandings of the nature of human or social reality and whether and how that reality might be known. The remaining seminar meetings examine methods for pursuing interpretive research in the social and health sciences. We will primarily focus on ethnographic, discourse and narrative methodologies (we may explore other methodologies depending on student interest and as time permits). In addition to addressing philosophical foundations, will discuss and practice common strategies to access and collect data (e.g. observation, interviewing, finding existing documents), methods of organizing and representing different forms/genres of data for analysis (e.g. transcripts, electronic texts, images, hand-written notes); and strategies to analyze and represent your analyses for different audiences. This advanced graduate course seeks to support social and health science doctoral students to develop appropriate research designs and research proposals for either their comprehensive paper or their doctoral dissertation research. Students from CQ related departments are welcome and should contact the instructor to request permission to join the course. This course is offered through the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. Taught by Dr. Rupaleem Bhuyan. Course outline (to be revised - note the course title and number have changed and reading assignments may be revised for summer 2014). Not offered in 2014-15.

“This course has been integral to my learning and next steps of my doctoral work. It has provided me with tools and resources I have been trying to locate but have been unable to find in other spaces. I highly recommend this be offered in subsequent years. Thank you!” 

CHL5115 - Qualitative Analysis and Interpretation

This course focuses on the theory, techniques and issues of data analysis and interpretation. Topics addressed include the implications of data collection for analysis and other components of the research process, problems of meaning, concept development, analytic devices, theorization, writing and representation. Students are expected to have their own data to work with, ideally from their own thesis projects, or from other or past research. Prerequisites for enrollment include grounding in the philosophical and theoretical foundations of qualitative research, qualitative research design, and data gathering. Students are expected thus to have completed at least one or two qualitative methodology courses (or the equivalent research experience). Preference will be given to those who have taken other courses in the Essentials series, and to those from programs that are contributing members of CQ. The course is designed primarily for PhD students. Auditors are generally not accepted. Permission of instructor is required for enrollment. This course is offered through the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Taught in fall 2014 by Dr. Brenda Gladstone. Course Outline

“It has opened my eyes to significant elements of analysis that I previously did not even know existed or that I’d be able to fathom. This course has tremendously contributed to my learning.” 

CHL5122 - Advanced Qualitative Research: Framing, Writing & Beyond

This is a pass-fail course for students who have completed their program coursework and who are in the final stages of qualitative theses (normally in the last 6 months to 1 year of their programs). The course is a forum for presentation and discussion of thesis work, and for deeper exploration of methodological, theoretical and professional development issues. Topics include positioning within texts, writing for different audiences, cross-paradigm 'communication', thesis design and writing, publication and grant writing, issues of evidence and quality. Designed to counter the isolation of late-stage thesis work and the challenges of working within a research tradition that runs 'against the grain' of conventional science, this course will assist students in establishing contact with like-minded colleagues, set the stage for establishing on-going work groups that continue after completion of the course, facilitate the timely completion of projects and prepare students about to enter academic and other fields. The course is designed for PhD students. Permission of instructors is required for enrollment, with preference being given to students in the Certificate program and to students from contributing CQ programs. This course is offered through the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. For more information, view the past Course Outline. Next offering of this course is to be determined. 

“This is an excellent course and the instructors are fantastic. This course is exactly what I needed at this stage of my degree.” 

Recommended Courses on Social Theory

These courses are highly recommended to students enrolled in the Essentials Series because of the importance of social theory to qualitative health methodology. These courses are not formally part of the Essentials series (i.e., not subject to priority enrolment for CQ contributing member students). Students should inquire of the course instructors regarding enrolment. 

NUR1085H - Topics in Critical Perspectives in Health and Health Care

This PhD-level course will focus on critical-social theories which have been applied to the health sciences in order to policitize and theorize health issues that traditionally have been taken for granted as unproblematic, such as caregiving, prevention, and professional practice. The course will focus on critical, neo-marxist, feminist, post-colonial, and post-structuralist frameworks. Students will be required to read classic texts and applied studies which utilized such approaches to discuss the key tenets of each theoretical framework. Course assignments will consist of explorations of the links between a particular theory and the student’s research topic. This course is offered through the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. Instructor: Dr. Denise Gastaldo. Course Outline

CHL5101 - Social Theory and Health

This course is an introduction to key theoretical contributions of sociology to accounts of health and illness. Emphasis will be on a critical analysis of competing discourses on health, including those based on structural functionalism, interpretive perspectives, political economy, social constructionism, feminist perspectives, Foucauldian perspectives, Pierre Bourdieu’s work, sociology of the body and sociology of emotions. The focus of discussion will be core concepts of the sociology of health arising from theoretical interpretations of what it means to be healthy or ill in western industrialized nations. Concepts include, but are not limited to, the sick role, labelling, lay health beliefs, the experience of illness, medical dominance, the medical industrial complex, social causation of disease, medical social control, medicalization, surveillance medicine, risk, discipline and the body, the social construction of medical knowledge, habitus, capital, and body projects. The course, taught by Professor Peggy McDonough, is offered through the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.  Course Outline

CHL5102 - Social and Political Forces in Health

The purpose of the course is to explore, theoretically some of the major factors and forces influencing the emergence, development and nature of health care systems. The underlying premise of this course is that health care systems do not develop in a vacuum; that is, they can only be understood with reference to the historically contingent social, political and economic contexts within which they emerge and exist. The course, taught by Professor Peggy McDonough, is offered through the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. There are no pre-requisites. 

SWK4512 - Research Knowledge for Social Justice

This course explores the role of the researcher in promoting social justice and diversity in social work practice and explores models of research with, rather than on communities. Learners will become familiar with methodologies from the margins – methodologies developed to challenge the social inequalities underlying the production and dissemination of knowledge. The course is based upon critical theory premises. Critical theory is a response to post-enlightenment philosophies, positivism in particular, which deconstruct notions of a unitary truth that can be known by one method. Critical theory is diverse and there are many debates amongst those who place themselves within this tradition. However, for the purposes of this course, it is important to note that research is marked by a complex set of strategies that are united by the commonality of socio-political purpose. Critical theorists seek to understand human experience as a means of challenging, of changing, the inequities around them. The course will draw on insights from disciplines such as Critical Race Theory, Indigenous Studies/Methodologies, Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, and LGBT/Queer Studies in examining the dynamics of race, gender, power, social change and their intersectionalities in the research process. This course, taught by Dr. Izumi Sakamoto, is offered through the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. Read more.