Designing and moderating focus groups


Two day, Foundation level. London. Price for SRA members: £405

** This course has been rescheduled from 25/26 April **

*Prices for 2019 two day courses have increased to £540; SRA members receive a 25% discount, paying £405.00*

Click here for more information   (NatCen course)

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 Senior Researcher in NatCen’s Children, Families and Work team. She specialises in qualitative research and has conducted in-depth interviews and focus groups with a wide range of participant groups, such as frontline staff, local authority officials, cabinet members, people with mental health problems and prisoners. Before joining NatCen in 2014, Ellie held research posts at Community Links and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion. She has a BSc in Sociology from the University of Cardiff.

Price for SRA members: £405. Use the discount code emailed to you.

VAT is not charged for SRA courses.

If you are unsure of your code, or haven't received one, please contact us.

Want to book 2+ people at the same time? Get in touch: admin[at]the-sra[dot]

Registration on the day is from 9.00 - 9.30 am.


Cancellation policy: Full refund if cancelled 21 days or more from the course date.  No refund if cancelled 20 days or fewer from the course date.

Registrations for this course will not be accepted after 19 June 2019 at noon.

The course finishes at 5:00 pm on 20 June, and 4:30 pm on 21 June.

We are sorry but registration for this event is now closed.

Please contact us if you would like to know if spaces are still available.