Focus Group Design and Moderation: Online - (2 days)

This master-class gives students a comprehensive understanding of focus group design and moderation. The class establishes the theory and methods of focus group research, it provides techniques for managing challenging groups, and offers participants hands-on experience to ensure smooth and rigorous data collection.



This course is being held 'live' online via zoom. The timetable will be:

  • 9.30am -11.00am: session 1
  • 11.30am-12.30pm: session 2
  • 12:30pm-1.30pm: Lunch
  • 1.30pm-3.00pm: session 3
  • 3.30pm-4.30pm:  session 4


The course will run on Australian Eastern Daylight Time (UTC +11)

(Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne Daylight Savings time)



Master Class - runs over 2 days

Dr Colette Mortreux is a skilled qualitative researcher with 20 years of experience. She manages complex projects with vulnerable populations and sensitive topics. Her research has examined migration and environmental change in Ghana, India, and Tuvalu, as well as bushfire management and welfare policy in Australia. She is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne where she is examining community wellbeing and adaptation to climate change in the South Pacific. She is recognised internationally for her adaptation research, with over 700 citations from her peer reviewed papers. Outside of academia, she has experience working in government, consulting for not-for-profit organisations, and as a teacher.

Course dates: Thursday 7 December 2023 - Friday 8 December 2023
Course status: Course completed (no new applicants)
Week 1
About this course: 

This master-class runs over two days and will provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of how to apply focus group methods for social research. The class will step through the theoretical basis for conducting focus groups, their value and limitations. It will detail how to translate your research questions into an effective discussion guide and how to put that guide into practice using group activities for face-to-face and online groups. The master-class will give participants the opportunity to observe or moderate a mock focus group online, will provide techniques to manage challenging group dynamics, and an overview on the next steps for data analysis.


By the end of this master-class participants will be able to construct a focus group discussion guide to elicit meaningful data; have greater confidence in moderating focus groups, including online delivery; have a range of techniques to ensure smooth moderation; and understand how data can be translated into research findings.


The workshop is relevant to anyone intending to conduct focus groups. This could include experienced researchers, Higher Degree Research students, government or not-for-profit professionals involved in community consultations, or private sector professionals involved in market research or evaluations.


Course syllabus: 

Day 1

  • Understanding the benefits and limitations of a group based methodology
  • Sample design and group set-up
  • Questioning techniques and understanding different types of questions
  • Writing your discussion guide
  • Activity ideas for stimulating discussion and data
  • Project logistics and etiquette


Day 2

  • Moderation skills and group dynamics, including for online focus groups
  • Understanding and using non verbal cues
  • How to manage sensitive issues, challenging participants and group dynamics
  • Hands-on experience moderating or participating in a focus group
  • Preparing for analysis
Course format: 

This workshop will take place online using Zoom video link.

Participants will need reliable internet access and a computer with a camera.

Participants will require access to MS Word in order to draft a mock discussion guide.

Recommended Background: 

There are no pre-requisites for this course.


It is recommended that participants have a basic understanding of qualitative research.

Recommended Texts: 

There is no pre-reading for this course.

Course fees
Non Member: 
Full time student Member: 
Participant feedback: 

This course gave me so much more information than what I was expecting. It is the best workshop I’ve experienced in the past 2 years.


Good focus for material that was timely for some work being completed.


The interactive task at the end of day 1 was a good example to illustrate key ideas learnt.


The course was very information. Colette was a fabulous coordinator. Thank you.