Qualitative methods for conservation

Qualitative – or text based – research methods are often a mystery to conservation professionals who are more familiar with quantitative research and data.  But people’s experiences, connections and hopes for nature are not always easily quantified.

We share stories, not numbers.

Conservation evidence needs to draw on the richness of qualitative research, alongside the quantitative, to better inform conservation policy and practice.

Conservation professionals are often not trained in qualitative research methods – even the concept of words as data can be disconcerting!  Is this skills gap leaving you uncertain how to access this rich source of potential data? 

The Qualitative Methods for Conservation course gives you the skills, practice and confidence to use qualitative research methods in your projects.

What you get:

Online course

✔  Five online training sessions

✔ Course workbook and resources guide

✔ An Action Plan to support you to implement what you learn on the course

✔ Monthly drop in sessions (online) where you can ask questions and connect with your course alumni

Connect with Dr Rebecca Jefferson and other course participants through group discussions and breakouts to discuss the content covered.

Upcoming course dates

This course will run again in Spring 2024.  To be the first to hear about the next course dates as soon as they are released sign up to our newsletter.

If you are interested in booking an in-house course to develop the skills of your team, organisation or network please email rebecca@humannature.co.uk

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Is this course for you?

This course is for conservation professionals from research, policy or practice who are conducting qualitative research projects but who have not had training in qualitative data methods.  

Qualitative research methods can be vital components of conservation research, monitoring and evaluation of conservation intervention impacts, stakeholder engagement processes and much more.  If you are conducting interviews or text-based questionnaires with stakeholders, community members or other people connected to your project we can help you build the skills you need to do this well.


This course will train you in:


Designing qualitative data collection - writing questions, structuring interviews and qualitative questionnaires, defining the target population, human ethics for research and neutrality


Collecting qualitative data - designing an interview protocol, conducting interviews, note taking interview process, questionnaire delivery


Analysing qualitative data through a coding approach - developing a coding framework, analysing as an individual or a team, reporting qualitative research

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What to expect during the course

Whether you join the in person or online course you’ll get to meet other conservation professionals who share both your ambitions and uncertainties when it comes to qualitative research methods.

The course is a mixture of taught content, break out tasks and plenary discussions.  You will have plenty of opportunities to practice the skills you are learning about.

Throughout the course participants will be developing questions, practicing interviewing and being interviewed.  Once the group has collected the data – from interviewing each other – you will practice collating and analysing data.  You will not be asked to share personal information, however other course participants will hear and read your responses.

At the end of the course you will develop your own Action Plan to ensure you have clear next steps to implement what you have learnt on the course.

You will receive a workbook to support your learning with links to all the resources cited.   The online course will be recorded (excluding break out workshops) and you’ll have access to the recording for six months.

You’ll also get invited to the Human Nature Alumni drop ins.  A monthly chance to meet and ask questions as you implement what you’ve learned on the course.

Qualitative research provides vital evidence of people’s relationships and hopes for nature.


Do you need to build your skills to access this insight?



This course can also be run in-house for your team, organisation or network.  If you would like to explore this option, please email Rebecca at rebecca@humannature.co.uk and we’ll find a time to meet.


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Who is Dr Rebecca Jefferson?

Dr Rebecca Jefferson is the Founder of Human Nature. A social enterprise that empowers conservation professionals, organisations and households to have a more positive impact on the planet through training, collaboration and support.

Rebecca initially trained as a biologist, and with her interdisciplinary PhD in marine sciences she ‘crossed over’ into the world of social sciences. Though rather than bridging a divide, she prefers to see social sciences and environmental conservation as collaborators.

In her teaching and research across the academic, public, private and not-for-profit sectors she has seen time and time again the power of bringing the natural and social sciences together to influence policy and ‘green’ behaviours.

Rebecca sees the growing appetite in individuals and organisations to do better – the desire to make changes to how they go about life and business so they have a more harmonious relationship with the natural world.

More than this, Rebecca firmly believes in the potential for people to be a force for good as we tackle ecological and climate crises – humans don’t have to be part of the problem, they are the solution.

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“The ‘Introduction to Social Science in Conservation’ with Rebecca has been one of the best-run online courses I have attended to date. Rebecca managed to create a comfortable and open environment online and the sessions were very interactive – allowing us to speak with other attendees and learn about one another’s conservation work. From a personal point of view, it was useful that Rebecca (and, as it happens, lots of the attendees on my course) has a marine background as lots of the discussions were very relevant to my work. 


The course gave an overview not only to the benefits of social science but gave a good understanding of the methods available and how to approach barriers we may face when integrating social science. The one-to-one with Rebecca was a really good follow up afterwards allowed me to have a focussed conversation about my own work and opportunities available to me. It has really reminded me to always “take a step back” and incorporate a wider view when planning work. The course, and integration of an interdisciplinary approach, will really help us to further embed the SMNR principles here in Wales and I can see it really helping us to achieve multiple benefits. I have already recommended the Human Nature course to many colleagues.

Amy Martin
Specialist Advisor: Sustainable Management of Marine Natural Resources,
Natural Resources Wales