Qualitative Content Analysis

Key points

  • This course teaches qualitative content analysis as per Schreier (2012) using NVivo
  • You will learn the specificities of the method, the type of research questions it answers, its eight steps and the kind of results it yields
  • This course can be taken as a standalone unit or combined with another methodological seminar, any of the method courses or an NVivo course.


Qualitative content analysis is a method that describes the manifest and the latent meaning of only the categories of interest in a qualitative dataset. It is particularly suited for qualitative studies asking questions whose answers lie in readily available sources of data, or secondary data, such as reports, press articles, websites, books, journal articles, magazines, films, TV ads, videos and directories. Amongst others, qualitative content analysis has been used extensively to analyse gender dominance in films and magazine ads and political parties’ rhetoric in party manifesto and election propaganda. A key feature of qualitative content analysis is that not all the data are analysed; only the passages which directly relate to the research question are retained for the analysis. This explains why qualitative content analysis is rarely used with primary data collected directly by researchers where the whole corpus of data must be analysed to answer the research question. In the first part of the course, we review the tenets that distinguish the quantitative from the qualitative approach to content analysis and proceed with looking at sampling requirements, unit of coding, unit of analysis, and the coding frame. This leads us to conduct the initial coding phase and perform a preliminary reliability check to assess the adequacy of the categories. In the second part of the class, we perform the main coding phase and run intercoder reliability. We conclude with a critical appraisal of the methodological quality of studies that used qualitative content analysis and the best data visualisations to present its findings.

Although no previous knowledge of any of the four methods of qualitative data analysis is required, participants should have some familiarity with qualitative research.

Half-day from 9:00 to 12:00 or full-day from 9:00 to 16:00.

This course is taught online in Zoom as well as onsite on a request basis.

Teaching methods
Lectures, demos with NVivo and hands-on exercises.

Please email me for information on fees.

Combining courses
This course is part of a five-course series on methods of qualitative analysis that includes Methods of Qualitative Data Analysis, Thematic Analysis, Cross-case Analysis and Grounded Theory. It can be taken alone or in conjunction with the other related courses. It can also be taught before, after or simultaneously with the Introduction to NVivo or Qualitative Data Analysis with NVivo courses.

Open-access references

This course was taught at

As a freelance methodologist, I train social scientists and humanitarian practitioners in qualitative analysis, decolonising research and participatory methodologies. I coach research teams, teach doctoral-level courses in method schools and I consult for humanitarian aid agencies worldwide.

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