Colchester, United Kingdom

Applications of Focus Groups

online course
when 22 July 2024 - 26 July 2024
language English
duration 1 week
credits 4 EC
fee GBP 492

Enhance your focus group research by achieving an appropriate group composition and gaining a clear understanding of how to use focus groups as a qualitative method.

Need to Know

Prior training in the foundations and principles of qualitative methods is recommended, but not required.

In Depth

Focus groups are a popular qualitative research method. They generate different data to other qualitative methods such as interviews. In focus groups we rely on the interactions and communications which occur between the different participants as a means of generating rich and insightful data on an issue or topic.

Therefore, focus groups require considerable questioning and moderating skills. The moderator plays a key role in guiding the discussion.

This interactive course will help to improve the quality of your focus group research by achieving an appropriate group composition and ensuring a lively and participative discussion. It provides you with a clear understanding of how to use focus groups as a qualitative method. It provides first-hand experience of the roles of moderator and focus group participant. It also covers the different challenges posed when designing and moderating focus groups in both face-to-face and online contexts, and strategies for building trust and rapport with participants.

Topics covered include:
- the principles of focus groups;
- the nature of focus group data;
- when we should use focus groups in Qualitative Research;
- designing focus group discussion guides and exercises;
- questioning and moderating skills;
- the composition of focus groups;
- practicalities of facilitating group discussions;
- in-person and online focus groups and their different challenges;
- ethics and reflexivity in focus groups.

Course leader

Karen Lumsden is a sociologist and criminologist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. She has over 15 years of experience teaching qualitative research methods. Her research expertise is in areas including policing, victims and cyber-crime.

Target group

Researchers, professional analysts, advanced students

Course aim

By the end of the course you will:
- be aware of the main principles of focus groups;
- have a clear understanding of when to use focus groups in research;
- be able to independently design and moderate focus group discussions;
- understand the importance of group composition and its impact on group dynamics;
- be aware of the various challenges and strategies involved in running focus groups in-person and online;
- develop strategies for building rapport and trust, involving participants in group discussions, keeping the discussion on track, and ensuring sufficient depth of coverage;
- have practical knowledge of moderating focus groups and participating in them.

Credits info

4 EC
You can earn up to four credits for attending this course.
3 ECTS credits – Attend 100% of live sessions and engage fully with class activities.
4 ECTS credits – Attend 100% of live sessions, engage fully with class activities and complete a post-class assignment.

Fee info

GBP 492: ECPR member - check whether your institution is a member here:
GBP 985: ECPR non-member


Funding applications for the 2024 ECPR Methods School summer programme are now opening for applications. Apply before mid-April 2024. For more details on funding opportunities for ECPR's other events, please visit