The aim of this paper is to discuss the application of a contemporary grounded theory methodology to a research project exploring the experiences of students studying for a degree in midwifery. Grounded theory is a qualitative research approach developed by Glaser and Strauss in the 1950s but the methodology for this study was modelled on Clarke's (2005) approach and was underpinned by a symbolic interactionist theoretical perspective, post-structuralist theories of Michel Foucault and a constructionist epistemology. The study participants were 19 midwifery students completing their final placement. Data were collected through individual in-depth interviews and participant observation, and analysed using the grounded theory analysis techniques of coding, constant comparative analysis and theoretical sampling, as well as situational maps. The analysis focused on social action and interaction and the operation of power in the students' environment. The social process in which the students were involved, as well as the actors and discourses that affected the students' competency development, were highlighted. The methodology allowed a thorough exploration of the students' experiences of achieving competency. However, some difficulties were encountered. One of the major issues related to the understanding and application of complex sociological theories that challenged positivist notions of truth and power. Furthermore, the mapping processes were complex. Despite these minor challenges, the authors recommend applying this methodology to other similar research projects.