PhD645 Qualitative methodology January 2024

This course aims to provide students with knowledge about the range of ontological and epistemological foundations underpinning qualitative research in sport studies. The course will have a limited number of participants and will be open also for external students. Binding registrations by 15th December



15. - 18. januar


15. desember 2023






Students will be given the opportunity to develop their understanding of, and articulate in student-centred working groups and a self-selected written assignment, the tenets upon which their own research project is founded in relation to a range of issues: project design, the choice of appropriate methodological tools, analysis of data, judgement criteria/ validity, reflexivity and representing qualitative research findings. The course is relevant for students at all stages of their PhD project.

See complete course plan - emneplan PEnglishhD645 Qualitative Methodology - in 

Learning Outcomes:

Knowledge - On completing the course students will have:

  • A sound understanding of the range of ontological and epistemological foundations for qualitative research in sport
  • Knowledge about how different paradigmatic foundations for qualitative inquiry influence the entire research process from project design (including the development of research questions) to the representation of findings
  • Knowledge about how different paradigmatic assumptions affect how methods (e.g. interview) are conceptualised, utilised in data generation, analysed and represented in research findings
  • Knowledge about criteria for judging the quality of qualitative research
  • Knowledge about ethical reflexivity in qualitative inquiry

Skills - On completing the course students will be able to:

  • Identify and critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of a range of ontological approaches to qualitative inquiry
  • Present orally and write about their own research in ways that reflect a chosen paradigmatic foundation
  • Make judgement calls about good qualitative research.

General competence - on completing the course the students will be able to:

  • Participate in national/international fora and discuss qualitative research findings
  • Identify new relevant research questions and design robust qualitative research projects

Credits - 5 sp


The course is an intensive course that runs over 4 days (24 hours comprising seminars/lectures, student discussions). Students will be expected to contribute to the seminar and play an active role in the sessions (present aspects of their research project; reflect upon their own research project as well as fellow students; discuss assigned literature).

In addition, students are expected to pursue 126 hours of self-study.


There are two pre-course assignments:

  • Students are expected to have read assigned texts prior to the course. On the basis of their understanding of these texts, they should prepare a 3-5 minutes presentation in which they present an issue they wish to debate and discuss further within the group.
  • Students must submit a short description (1 page of A4) about their existing PhD project a week prior to the commencement of the course. This ought to include: research questions; proposed project design; subject discipline(s); paradigmatic foundations; an indication of the stage reached in the research process; a list of literature that has methodologically informed the project (max 10 texts). (Please note, however, that there will be understandably variations in the degree to which you can position your project).


Students are expected to write a paper of 2000 words excluding references of their choice on an aspect of the course. The title of the paper must be approved by the lecturers within a given deadline.

The paper will be graded: pass/fail.

Praktisk informasjon

Responsible: Professor Fiona Dowling, Department of Sport and Social Sciences

Core literature
Braun, V., Clarkes, V. and Weate, P. (2016). Using thematic analysis in sport and exercise research. In B. Smith and A. Sparkes (Eds) Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, pp. 191-205. London: Routledge.

Bunden, A. (2016). The Web and Digital Qualitative Methods. Researching online and researching the online in sport and exercise studies. In B. Smith and A. Sparkes (Eds) Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, pp. 355-367. London: Routledge.

Burke, S. (2016). Rethinking ‘validity’ and ‘trustworthiness’ in qualitative inquiry. In B. Smith and A. Sparkes (Eds) Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, pp. 330-339. London: Routledge.

Dowling, F. and Flintoff, A. (2011). Getting beyond normative interview talk of sameness and celebrating difference. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 3(1): 63-79.

Kvale, S. (1989). To Validate is to Question. In S. Kvale (Ed.) Issues of Validity in Qualitative Research, pp. 73-92. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Lincoln, Y., Lynham, S. and Guba, E. (2011). Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions, and emerging confluences, revisited. In N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln (Eds) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. pp. 97-128. London: Sage Publications.

Mason, J. (2018). Qualitative Researching. Third Edition. Chapter One Intellectual Puzzles and Research Questions, pp. 3-19. Chapter Seven Being Creative with Methods, pp. 163-184. Chapter Eight Making Sense of Qualitative Data, pp. 187-218. Chapter Nine Making Convincing Arguments with Qualitative Data, pp. 219-253. London: Sage Publications.

Markula, P. and Silk, M. (2011). Qualitative Research for Physical Culture. Chapter Two Paradigmatic Approaches to Physical Culture pp. 24-56. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Thorpe, H. and Olive, R. (2016). Conducting Observations in Sport and Exercise Settings. In B. Smith and A. Sparkes (Eds) Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, pp. 124-138. London: Routledge.

Smith, B. (2018). Generalizability in qualitative research: misunderstandings, opportunities and recommendations for the sport and exercise sciences. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 10(1): 137-149.

Smith, B. and McGannon, K. (2017). Developing rigor in qualitative research: problems and opportunities within sport and exercise psychology. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/1750984X.2017.1317357.

Smith, J. (2009). Judging research quality: from certainty to contingency. Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 1(2): 91-100.

Sparkes, A. (2002). Telling Tales in Sport and Physical Education. A Qualitative Journey. Chapter Three Realist Tales, pp. 39-56. Chapter Six Poetic Representations, pp. 107-126. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.

Sparkes, A. and Smith, B. (2014). Qualitative Research Methods in Sport, Exercise and Health. Chapter One What is qualitative research? pp. 6-32; Chapter Two Traditions in Qualitative Research, pp. 33-59.

Wolcott, H. (1990). On Seeking – and Rejecting – Validity in Qualitative Research. In E. Eisner and A. Peshkin (Eds) Qualitative Inquiry in Education. The Continuing Debate, pp. 121-152. New York: Teachers College Press.

Recommended literature
Alle litteraturlister skal leveres i et worddokument i APA-stil.

Ravn, S. og Højbjerre Larsen (red) (2020). Krop og bevgæelse i idræt og sunnhed. Kulturanalytiske tilgange. Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag.


Binding registration by 15th December 2023