Master-class May 2018: Moderating Focus Groups

This course is for those already familiar with qualitative research and looking to further their understanding around the mechanics of setting up a focus group based research project, and the skills and practicalities of moderating focus groups.


This 2 day course is being held in ACSPRI's Melbourne office.



Thursday, May 10, 2018 - Friday, May 11, 2018
Early bird cutoff date: 
Friday, May 4, 2018
Course details:

This course is for those already familiar with qualitative research, and looking to further their understanding around the mechanics of setting up a focus group based research project, and the skills and practicalities of moderating focus groups.

Master Class - runs over 2 days

Bianca Plunkett is an experienced qualitative researcher, and with over 15 years in the industry, has spent well over a thousand hours facilitating focus group discussions. In this time Bianca has worked across several different industries in both commercial and government sectors. Her passion is qualitative research and understanding consumer behaviour and motivations.

Bianca has extensive experience across a range of different research areas including customer satisfaction research, branding research & strategy, advertising & concept testing studies, consumer usage and attitude studies, segmentation studies, retail assessment & disruption research, new product development research and motivational research. Her varied experience and hands on approach has gained Bianca a reputation for tackling complicated and intricate business issues with her clients entrusting her to design the best research approach to meet their needs.

Bianca has developed this course to impart on participants the practical skills she has honed as a qualitative research moderator.

Course dates: Thursday 10 May 2018 - Friday 11 May 2018
Course status: Course completed (no new applicants)
Week 1
About this course: 

This two-day hands on course will give participants an understanding of how to set-up and implement a focus group based research methodology. It aims to equip participants with the skills and techniques necessary to both construct and facilitate a focus group based project to a high standard. These skills are also transferrable to those who may be responsible for commissioning and overseeing qualitative research. 


Focus groups are an ideal forum for gathering information, however understanding when and how to use them is only half of the challenge! A well set-up and facilitated focus group enables participants to discuss issues of relevance to the researcher in a free and easy manner and yields information with both depth and breadth. The ability of the researcher to set-up the appropriate line of questioning and their skills in implementing the questions plays a big role in the success of any group discussion


Course syllabus: 

Over the two day course, the following will be covered...


  • Understanding the benefits of a group based methodology
  • Sample design and group set-up
  • Questioning techniques and understanding different types of questions
  • Moderation skills and group dynamics 
  • Understanding and using non verbal cues
  • Projective techniques - what are they and when should they be used
  • Specific examples of some projective techniques and how to use them
  • Writing and moderating with your discussion guide
  • Project logistics and etiquette - the practicalities
  • Practical experience moderating or participating in a mini focus group
Course format: 

This two day master-class will be held in the ACSPRI Office in Melbourne.

Recommended Texts: 

There is no pre-reading for this course, however course notes will be provided. 

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

Bianca’s business experience & examples shined though very clearly. The course was fantastic because she emphasized practical application and provided lots of ”how too” (2017)


Provides a formal structure in which to conduct a focus group in addition to tips, techniques best practice from real world experience research (2017)


Bianca was a great teacher - very dear, helpful, resourceful and friendly (2017)


The ACSPRI Head Office is located at 763 Heidelberg Road, Alphington, just before the corner of Yarralea St.



The ACSPRI Office is only 20 minutes from the Melbourne's CBD via train. Accommodation located close to any of the City Loop train stations (Parliament, Melbourne Central, Spencer St, Flinders St and {on weekdays} Flagstaff) or other stations along the Hurstbridge Line will enable a very easy commute (see Transport below). We expect most visitors would appreciate staying quite centrally and there are numerous accommodation options. It is worth checking a travel website (expedia, tripadvisor, etc) to fine the best option for your budget and requirements, but we recommend staying close to a train station as per above.


Ivanhoe Quest Apartments are located 20 minutes walk east of the ACSPRI Office, along Upper Heidelberg Road.  You can also catch the train to Alphington Station from either Ivanhoe Station (2 stops - city direction) or Darebin Station (1 stop - city direction). You can also walk to Heidelberg Road (4 mins) take the 546 Bus to Yarralea Street, which is opposite our office.



Car Parking / Transport: 

Alphington Station is roughly 20 minutes from Melbourne Central (and other City loop stations) on the Hurstbridge Line and only a few minutes' walk from the ACSPRI office. There are also a number of bus lines that service the area. Bus services are very limited on weekends and the train is recommended. Click here for the journey planner.


By car, the quickest route for many local Melbournians will be via the Eastern Freeway and/or Chandler Hwy. From the CBD the Eastern Freeway from the Inner North will also probably be the quickest route. At that time on a weekend 20 minutes would allow plenty of time. Parking is usually available in Yarralea St or nearby but not on Heidelberg Road. 


Secure space is available to store bicycles at the office. The office is very close to Alphington Park, which backs onto the Yarra River and subsequently a vast network of Melbourne's bike paths.



Venue and Timetable: 

The course will run from 9.30am until 4.30pm each day (unless otherwise notified).

Breaks are usually held at 11:00 - 11:15, 12:45 - 1.15 and 2:45 - 3:00. Lunch and a small morning and afternoon tea are provided each day.