ASTK15461U COURSE: Qualitative Interviewing

Volume 2017/2018

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


Academic interviews are becoming an increasingly popular method in political science. Today, undergraduate and graduate students alike boldly venture into collecting, sorting and analysing information, obtained "straight from the horse's mouth". This tendency is indeed praiseworthy, as the academic interview offers a great opportunity for the student to show initiative, display academic independence and demonstrate critical thinking.


Unfortunately, the academic interview is not as uncomplicated as students like to think and during the process many find themselves bewildered and greatly challenged by practicalities of the craft and the methodological implications related to its conduct. Well into their research, students often begin wondering: 'How do I sufficiently prepare and best conduct the interview?''What do I do, if the interviewee does not answer my questions?', 'How can I avoid contaminating my material?', and 'Is it really possible to ensure reliability and validation in processing of interview material?'.


These questions and many more will be confronted during the course, which has been designed with the purpose of equipping students, intending to apply interviews in their research, with the knowledge and skills required in properly preparing, conducting, evaluating and processing academic interviews.


  1. Introduction.

  2. Interviews in Political Science Research.

  3. In Search of Truth or Meaning.

  4. On Questions (and Answers).

  5. Interview Preparation and Sampling Strategies.

  6. Hands-On I: Designing a Qualitative Interview.

  7. Ethical and Contextual Considerations. (+ Mid-term evaluation)

  8. Subjectivities, Interviewer Behaviour and Interviewee Constructions.

  9. Challenges and Barriers to Interviewing.

  10. Hands-On II: Conducting a Qualitative Interview.

  11. Quality Evaluation and Initial Processing.

  12. Analytical Approaches to the Qualitative Interview.

  13. Hands-On III: Analysing and Reporting Qualitative Interviews.

  14. Theoretical and Practical Implications of Qualitative Interviewing.

Learning Outcome


  • Describe the purpose of applying qualitative interviews as research method.
  • Present the underlying methodological and epistemological considerations inherent in qualitative interviewing.
  • Identify and elaborate on the various ethical and contextual implications of conducting qualitative interviews.



  • Devise a sampling strategy and design an interview guide, applicable to the student's current/future research project.
  • Conduct a qualitative interview in accordance with the aforementioned guide and provide a transcription sample as documentation.
  • Briefly outline an analytical approach to the interview material, and summarize the initial findings of such analysis.



  • Critically evaluate the quality of the interview material, and reflect on the interview process by composing an interview report.
  • Relate the interview report to the greater theoretical and practical implications of doing qualitative interviews in the social sciences.

The reading list is composed by journal articles from Qualitative Research, Qualitative Inquiry, The International Journal of Qualitative Methods etc., and by chapters from among others:


Brinkmann & Kvale, 2015, InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing, 3rd ed.

Denzin, N.K. & Y.S. Lincoln (eds), 2000, Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2nd ed, SAGE

Gubrium et al. (eds), 2012, The SAGE of Interview Research: The Complexity of the Craft, 2nd ed., SAGE

Holstein & J.F. Gubrium (eds), 2003, Inside Interviewing: New Lenses, New Concerns, SAGE

Mosley (ed), 2013, Interview Research in Political Science, Cornell University Press

Roulston, 2010, Reflective Interviewing: A Guide to Theory and Practice, SAGE

To ensure common grounds and overall conducive teaching, it is advisable that students have a clear intention of applying interviews in their thesis or in another upcoming academic assignment.
This course is designed as a combination of lectures and student participation, including class discussions, break-out sessions, buddy exercises, and short oral presentations. Given the practical nature of teaching qualitative interviewing as a craft, the course relies heavily on cooperative learning and students are expected to engage actively in both class discussions and exercises. In particular, the three “hands-on” lectures (6, 10, 13) are dedicated to practical exercises, serving the purpose of matching words with deeds, i.e. theory with practice.

In addition, to enhance student motivation, increase learning and ensure an efficient working environment, the class will engage in role playing. The role play acts as a frame for the teaching and it revolves around a fictitious research project (“The Good Interview”), in which the students will do a meta-study of interview practices in academia. By asking the students to investigate qualitatively how a number of junior faculty members at DPS plan, conduct and report qualitative interviews, the students will not only get a chance to work practically with interviewing, but at the same time gain valuable first-hand insights into concrete applications of qualitative interviews by political scientists.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner