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Interpretive Research Methods

Course Dates and Times

Monday 6 – Friday 10 February 2023
Minimum 2 hours of live teaching per day
09:30 – 12:00 CET

Marie Østergaard Møller

Aalborg Universitet

This in-person seminar-type course provides a blended learning environment, using state-of-the-art in-person pedagogical tools. It is designed for a demanding audience (researchers, professional analysts, advanced students) and capped at a maximum of 12 participants, allowing the Instructor to cater to the specific needs of each individual.

Purpose of the course

You will gain a practical understanding of the typical steps of an interpretive research process – from how to formulate an interpretive research question to how to present and document interpretive analyses. 

The course introduces a broad spectrum of interpretive approaches, including narrative methods, discourse analysis, and deconstructive analytics. By understanding their logics and uses, you will be able to select a strategy that fits your own research question.

ECTS Credits

3 credits Engage fully with class activities 

4 credits Complete post class assignment 

Instructor Bio

Marie Østergaard Møller is Associate Professor at Aalborg University in Denmark.

Her research interests include social and political categories, categorisation, frontline work, welfare state research, classic social theory of solidarity, and systematic qualitative methods.

Read more about Marie here.


Key topics covered

The course covers different interpretive methods. You will learn to ‘read’ texts while becoming familiar with contemporary thinking about interpretation, narrative, and discourse. The course focuses on narrative method, hermeneutics, phenomenology, discourse analysis, deconstruction method and genealogy. Its six objectives are to:

  1. Examine the scientific criteria of interpretive research to teach you the basics of formulating an interpretive research question
  2. Introduce issues of conceptualisation, theory, research design, and strategies of framing questions and selecting cases
  3. Help you organise and process material through interpretive coding strategies
  4. Teach you how to choose the best interpretation strategy for your research question
  5. Explain how to condense and present interpretations
  6. Draw conclusions from interpretive analyses.

Introducing interpretive methods

  1. Welcome
  2. Interpretation of what? Asking the ‘right’ question of the ‘right’ material
  3. Selecting and collecting data suited to interpretation
  4. Introduction of written assignment
  5. Group exercise

Interpretive strategies, positions and methods I
Hands-on strategies for interpretation and analysis 

  1. Narrative methods
  2. What’s your unit of analysis? Organising your data
  3. What’s in your data? Reading your data
  4. Group exercise on narrative, interpretive research strategies

Interpretive strategies, positions and methods II
Hands-on strategies for interpretation and analysis

  1. Narrative methods
  2. What’s your unit of analysis? Organising your data
  3. What’s in your data? Reading your data
  4. Group exercise on narrative, interpretive research strategies

Interpretive strategies, positions and methods III
Hands-on strategies for interpretation and analysis

  1. Discourse analysis
  2. How to make sense of it?
  3. Sorting your data using interpretive research strategies
  4. Group exercise on contextualised, interpretive research strategies

Condensing and presenting interpretations
Drawing conclusions from interpretive analyses

  1. Presentation of interpretive analyses
  2. You only know what you (can) show – citations and displays
  3. Scientific criteria
  4. Documentation
  5. Publication
  6. Group exercise on conclusion-drawing and presentation of interpretive analysis

How the course will work

The course includes pre- and post-class activities, along with in-class presentations.

Before the course, reading material and pre-recorded lectures will be available on Canvas for you to access at your own pace. Send your topic-related questions in advance to the Instructor.

In-class activities include short lectures, peer feedback, group exercises and presentations.

After the course, you can create presentations supported by Instructor feedback on your projects.

None, though basic knowledge of qualitative methodology and methods would be an advantage. The commitment time is approximately 40 hours, including readings and on-site participation.

Each course includes pre-course assignments, including readings and pre-recorded videos, as well as daily live lectures totalling at least three hours. The instructor will conduct live Q&A sessions and offer designated office hours for one-to-one consultations.

Please check your course format before registering.

Online courses

Live classes will be held daily for three hours on a video meeting platform, allowing you to interact with both the instructor and other participants in real-time. To avoid online fatigue, the course employs a pedagogy that includes small-group work, short and focused tasks, as well as troubleshooting exercises that utilise a variety of online applications to facilitate collaboration and engagement with the course content.

In-person courses

In-person courses will consist of daily three-hour classroom sessions, featuring a range of interactive in-class activities including short lectures, peer feedback, group exercises, and presentations.


This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc.). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.