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Focus Groups (RSS2.11) - Confirmed

This course is an introduction to focus group methodology for qualitative data collection in the social sciences. Interactive lectures will acquaint you with the nature, uses, limits and logistics of focus groups. Through a series of exercises (recruitment, topic guide construction, moderation skills, etc.) you will also gradually develop a practical understanding of this method and become more confident in using it for your own research.

Duration: one-week.



    The application deadline has passed, applying is no longer possible

    Focus groups, traditionally used in market research, have become increasingly popular across the social sciences in the last two decades. Today, they are widely used for qualitative data collection both in academic and applied research (such as evaluation research). With the Covid pandemic, they have been adapted (with some success) for online use. 
    Focus groups are a notoriously demanding method: logistically complex; raising a number of practical, ethical and epistemological challenges (power dynamics, confidentiality, etc.); and requiring solid moderation skills to be kept on track, including on difficult topics or with difficult respondents. 

    This course will take you through all steps of a focus group research in theory as well as in practice. Key topics covered in the lectures include: 

    • The uses (and limitations) of focus groups
    • Focus group logistics
    • Various constellations of focus groups (strangers vs familiar faces; homogeneity vs heterogeneity of experiences)
    • Respondent selection and group composition
    • Moderation skills
    • The ethics of focus group research
    • Analysing and reporting focus group data
    • Theoretical models underlying focus group research
    • In-person vs online focus groups. 

    A series of exercises will gradually acquaint you with the practicalities of setting up and running focus groups. You will cover topics such as: recruitment strategies and materials; topic guide construction; consent procedures; practical moderation skills. These exercises will culminate in the running of a full-scale focus group at the end of the week.


    Watch what our participants say about their experience!

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    Starting date

    24 June 2024, 9 am
    Educational method
    Main Language
    24 June 2024, 9 am - 28 June 2024, 5 pm
    Lea Sgier
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    Lea Sgier

    Lea Sgier

    Lea Sgier is a political scientist by training and teaches qualitative methods at the Political Science Department of the University of Geneva. She also has a long experience teaching qualitative methods (interviewing, data analysis, discourse analysis, focus groups, research ethics) and academic writing to doctoral students in Europe, North America, Asia and the South Caucasus. She has done research on institutionalised older people's relation to politics and voting; dementia policy; and gender equality policy.

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    • Regular: €1049 (application deadline 13th of May)
    • Student & PhD's: €699 (application deadline 13th of May)

    Includes: your course, short morning and late afternoon courses, coffee and tea during breaks, a warm lunch every day, Official Opening, MethodsNET Café (including some drinks and snacks) Official Closing (with some drinks and snacks) and a 1-year (2024 calendar year) free membership as MethodsNET regular member.

    Excludes: transport, accommodation, social events and other costs. 

    Discounts and Scholarships


    Level of participant: 

    • Master
    • PhD
    • PostDoc
    • Professional

    Admission requirements: ​​

    Pre-requisites : none. A basic understanding of qualitative research and some interviewing skills would be helpful.

    Admission documents: