Qualitative Methods in Health Systems Research (QHSR)

This course focuses on qualitative health systems research. Participants gain experience in each step of the qualitative research process and learn ways to enhance the utilisation of research results.

This course is tropEd accredited and can be followed as a stand-alone course or as part of the Master in International Health or the Master of Public Health programmes.

3 weeks
KIT Amsterdam
Course period
from 18/01/2024 until 07/02/2024
Course fee
EUR 2.240
KIT application deadline OKP applicants (course period 2024)
CLOSED >> 28 February 2023
OKP application period (course period 2024)
CLOSED >> 8 February - 30 March 2023 16:00 CET
KIT application deadline other funding (course period 2024)
CLOSED >> 22/11/2023

“I was a bit nervous when I started the health system research course. Research was definitely not a subject in my comfort zone. However, starting the course was like stepping into a train. Not only learning how you are supposed to do research, but doing! While there was enough opportunity for trial and error, co-students and tutors made sure you remained on the right track. Handing in my own research proposal at the end of the trail, made me look back for the first time, and realize what a huge distance we had been crossing in the past weeks. I feel far more secure on the subject now, and full of ideas to start my own research!”

Maartje Hoetjes from the Netherlands followed the HSR course as part of the Master in International Health. Background: Nursing. She works as medical specialist for MSF (read more about her experiences)

“Before this MPH/ICHD course I have never written a study proposal. This module helped me to search for the real problem and solutions instead of hours of discussions with my colleagues where everyone was given his own beliefs, vision, solution, reality and so on. At this moment I am a policy advisor I have proposed more than once to do a ‘proper’ study in the way I have learned at KIT.”

Fried Lammerink

“In our time, organizations and technology are evolving so rapidly that health care professionals must continually seek new skills and perspectives that enable them not only to respond to change, but also to anticipate it. And this is exactly what we were trained in KIT. Besides these academic competencies that are making a lot of difference in what I do now, staying and studying in Amsterdam also had positive effects in many ways; the principles of “equal opportunity for all people, irrespective of gender, age, race or religion” were visible in all aspects of the Dutch life.”

John Kingsley Krugu from Ghana, MPH/ICHD 2010, background in biological sciences, now PHD Research Fellow at Maastricht University.

“At KIT I was particularly impressed about the course content, the teaching staff composed of world class public health experts and leading academics and researchers, as well as the support staff whose teaching, guidance and administrative support combined to improve my academic orientation and shape my thoughts about public health and its practice.”

Francis-Xavier Andoh-Adjei from Ghana, MPH/ICHD 2010, now working as Deputy Director for Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation and International Relations at the National Health Insurance Authority in Ghana. He is enrolled at Radboud University Medical Centre-Nijmegen as PHD Researcher in Health Systems and Policy.


In health systems policy makers, managers and service providers need to be able to select appropriate research methods to better understand and address the problems they face. This course discusses which methods to use to answer different health system research questions. The course specifically focuses on qualitative research methods.

You will gain experience in each step of the research process through the development of your own research proposal, through practical exercises, and by appraising a research proposal.
Attention is also paid to enhance the use of research results by policy makers, managers, health care providers, civil society and clients.


At the end of the module/session the participants should be able to:

  • Explain the most important differences in concepts, paradigms and application of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in health systems research
  • Clearly formulate research objectives based on a problem statement
  • Select an appropriate mix of qualitative research methods and develop corresponding tools to investigate public health issues
  • Conduct well-structured focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with a variety of respondents
  • Formulate a feasible, consistent and logical small scale qualitative research proposal related to a public health problem in a specific low-income country
  • Propose an outline of a research report and strategies to disseminate research results to different target groups for use in practice
  • Critically assess whether a proposed research design is suitable to answer a research question
  • Application

    Admission criteria

  • Academic training or a professional qualification in a relevant field
  • Work experience in a health related area, including experience in research, management or planning in developing countries
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English
  • Application procedure

    The application package is due two months before the start of the course.

    Please upload your application online. The following documents should be uploaded:

  • A one-page letter of motivation
  • Copies of your diplomas and grade reports
  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae and a list of publications if applicable
  • What we expect from your motivation letter:
    Please indicate in your motivation letter why you want to follow this specific course, why you want to follow the course at KIT Amsterdam, what do you expect to learn and how you will apply your newly gained competencies from the course in your work, what kind of benefits will it bring to your future career, etc. Describe a relevant problem you have experienced in the last two years that you would like to discuss during this specific course. Your motivation should be about ½-1 page. Please do not repeat your CV again.

    This course can be taken on its own or as advanced module of the Master of Public Health or Master in International Health (MIH) programme.

    FAQ Online Application System

    Do you have a question about our Online Application System? Then you can find the answer in our FAQ Online Application System:

    Go to our FAQ Online Application System-page 

    Practical information


    Classes are held at KIT’s training facilities in Amsterdam.


    There is a severe shortage of student accommodation in Amsterdam and participants are advised to contact KIT for information. KIT will endeavour to assist participants in their search for housing.

    Visa requirements

    Citizens of most EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries do not need a visa to enter the Netherlands. Visit the Nuffic website for the latest information on visa requirements.

    Participants from other countries must obtain a short-stay visa (for up to three months) through the Netherlands embassy or consulate covering the applicant’s country. Applicants will need a letter of admission to the course and proof of sponsorship or sufficient funds to cover the course fee, travel and accommodation costs. Applicants should take into account that in some countries this procedure can take several months.

    Insurance requirements

    Course participants and accompanying dependents are required by Dutch law to have health, accident and third party insurance. Unless their current insurance policy covers their stay abroad, participants must insure themselves and their dependents in the Netherlands. Dutch insurance companies offer reasonable rates to foreign students. KIT can assist with arranging insurance.


    The arrangement of financial support to cover all study costs is the responsibility of the applicant. KIT does not offer financial support or scholarships.

    Scholarships Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP)

    For this course and a number of other KIT courses funding from the Orange Knowledge Programme OKP is available for applicants from OKP countries. See the OKP page for more information on the eligible countries, eligibility criteria and application instructions. Applicants from OKP countries are strongly encouraged to apply for an OKP scholarship.

    The OKP application has to be submitted via an online application system from Nuffic. All accepted applicants from OKP eligible countries will receive the link to apply automatically when the application period opens.

    Please note that the academic application to the Royal Tropical Institute has to be received at the latest 1 month before the OKP deadline. You are advised however to apply to KIT as early as possible.
    See the detailed instructions on OKP information.

    European Credit

    The European Credit Transfer System (EC) facilitates the transfer of course credits between different institutions of the same academic level. A course comprising 28 hours of formal teaching and private study is equivalent to one EC credit point.


    This course is also accredited for the Master in International Health programme organised by tropEd, a network of European institutions for higher education in international health.

    Why study at KIT?

    • Up-to-date approach to complex public health issues

    • Practice-oriented

    • Exchange between disciplines

    • Interactive Education

    • Development of personal and professional competencies

    • Network building

    • Participants from diverse backgrounds and countries

    • Personal tutoring

    • Teaching by highly qualified specialists

    • Positively reviewed by tropEd

    • KIT: international centre of excellence in international health and development

    • Accredited by NVAO

    Coordinators & Support

    Photo of Elaine Rabello

    Elaine Rabello

    Master’s Programme Coordinator

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    Photo of Meta Willems

    Meta Willems

    Course Administration Officer

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