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Designing and Moderating Focus Groups

27th September 2018 @ 8:00 am - 28th September 2018 @ 5:00 pm

Organised by Social Research Association
Presenter Caroline Turley and Ellie Roberts
Date 27/09/2018 – 28/09/2018
Venue NatCen, Northampton Square, London (tbc)
Map View in Google Maps  (EC1V 0AX)
Contact Lindsay Adams T: 0207 998 0304
E: [email protected]
Description This two day course is designed to give participants an overview of the role and function of using focus groups as a method of data collection in qualitative research. It aims to equip participants with an understanding of design considerations as well as the skills and techniques necessary for facilitating focus groups to a high standard in applied research settings.

The course involves a mix of taught and practical sessions by qualitative researchers from NatCen Social Research, who have extensive experience of conducting focus groups for complex qualitative studies.


By the end of the course, participants will:

  • Be able to appreciate the role and value of using focus groups;
  • Be able to assess when and why it is appropriate to use focus groups as a method of qualitative data collection;
  • Be aware of design, sampling and recruitment considerations, as well as practical considerations when organising focus groups;
  • Be able to adapt the key skills of listening, questioning and probing to the group context;
  • Be able to implement some of the skills and techniques necessary for facilitating a group dynamic; and
  • Have practical experience of observing, participating in or facilitating focus groups.


  • The role and use of focus groups in social research;
  • Designing focus groups;
  • Sampling and recruitment of focus group participants;
  • Designing and using a topic guide;
  • Moderating techniques for focus groups;
  • Facilitating the group dynamic; and
  • Techniques to engage focus group participants.

Who will benefit?

You will find this course useful if you:

  • Are already familiar with, and have experience of, the skills and techniques needed to conduct qualitative interviews;
  • Are experienced in conducting focus groups but would like to refresh and review your skills;
  • Commission or manage qualitative research in central or local government, health or other applied policy sectors.

This course assumes an understanding of the basic principles of qualitative research, along with some prior experience of the skills involved in qualitative interviewing (listening, questioning and probing).

Course tutors
Caroline Turley is Head of NatCen’s Crime and Justice and Social Attitudes teams. Her specialisms are researching sensitive issues and vulnerable groups, such as victims of crime, high risk offender populations and bereaved families. Before joining NatCen in 2007, Caroline carried out qualitative research at the Police Complaints Authority and BMRB Social Research (now TNS-BMRB). She has a BSc in Social Policy and Sociology and an MSc in Criminology, both from the London School of Economics.

Ellie Roberts is a Research Director in NatCen’s Crime and Justice team. She specialises in qualitative research and has research interests which span areas such as prison reform, substance misuse and issues of poverty and inequality. Ellie is highly experienced in qualitative methodologies including depth interviews and focus groups which she has undertaken with a wide range of participant groups.  She has also done a lot of work with vulnerable groups and on sensitive and complex subjects.  Before joining NatCen in 2014, Ellie held research posts at Community Links and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (now the Learning and Work Institute).


Level Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)
Cost £520.00 Members of SRA receive a 25% discount and pay £390
Website and registration
Region Greater London
Keywords Qualitative Data Handling and Data Analysis, Focus Groups
Related publications and presentations Qualitative Data Handling and Data Analysis


27th September 2018 @ 8:00 am
28th September 2018 @ 5:00 pm
NINE DTP - a collaborative partnership funded by the ESRC