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2020/21 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

IOFN5004M Research Methods

15 creditsClass Size: 60

If you are applying for a stand-alone Masters level module please note you must meet either the general University entry criteria or the specific module pre-requisite for this level of study.

Module manager: Maria Horne

Taught: 01 Oct to 31 Dec, 1 Sep to 31 Jan (5mth)(adv yr), Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

Pre-requisite qualifications

Normally general entry requirements for Masters level study.

Module replaces


This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module provides and introduction to fundamental concepts and methods underpinning health and social care research in an accessible and manageable way. During the module students will develop a strong theoretical understanding of a broad range of research methods relevant to health and social care. There will be an emphasis on applying critical appraisal skills to understanding research problems and developing appropriate study designs. There will also be a practical element to the module where students will be given the opportunity to apply and develop their research skills. By the end of this module students will have a greater appreciation for the issues and debates pertinent to health and social care research that will support their development in their professional subject area or field of practice.


The objectives of this module are to:
- Introduce to students the fundamental concepts of health and social care research.
- Provide students with a strong foundation in research methods.
- Equip students with the skills and confidence to progress to carrying out independent research projects.
- Develop students' ability to identify issues relevant to health and social care practice that are amenable to investigation using primary, secondary, and tertiary sources of evidence.
- Develop students' ability to construct clear and concise research questions and select appropriate research methods to investigate those questions.
- Equip students with the skills to design and conduct a comprehensive search of research literature, to identify knowledge gaps, and appraise the literature in order to refine study questions and contextualise research.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:
1. Identify, develop, and critically evaluate a researchable problem relevant to health and social care practice
2. Articulate a researchable problem as a succinct study question
3. Demonstrate critical appraisal skills when evaluating research literature related to a study question
4. Design an appropriate research study and analysis plan to investigate a researchable problem relevant to health or social care practice
5. Identify and critically appraise limitations of research studies

Skills outcomes
Developing a focussed research question
Literature searching
Critically evaluating research literature
Selecting appropriate methods of data collection
Sampling strategies
Data analysis plans
Quality aspects of research design


- Research processes
- Developing a research question
- Positioning a research question in the context of current evidence
- Selecting a study approach
- Designing a research study
- Principles of data analysis

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment60.503.00
Independent online learning hours18.00
Private study hours124.00
Total Contact hours8.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

The knowledge (taught) content for this module will be pre-recorded/lecture captured and made available online. This taught content will be structured as 6 'lessons' that align with the 6 elements of the syllabus:

- Research processes
- Developing a research question
- Positioning a research question in the context of current evidence
- Selecting a study approach
- Designing a research study
- Principles of data analysis

Within each of the 6 lessons there will be up to 2 hours of seminar materials (lecture captured) providing core knowledge and up to 1 hour of enhanced learning material (for example an interview with a researcher about a current research topic or method, a short presentation about current research going on in the School, or a podcast). The materials will range in length between 5-30 minutes long and the total lecture-captured/video content for the module will not exceed 18 hours.

For each lesson there will also be directed essential reading from one of the core study text books. Enhanced material will also be provided where necessary, such as links to websites or pdfs. Once students have completed each lesson they will be asked to complete a series of brief formative multiple choice questions (MCQs). On answering the questions they will be provided with feedback and direction to further reading as necessary. Students will be able to re-sit the formative MCQs as often as they choose.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

At the end of each of the 6 lessons students will be required to complete a series of multiple choice questions to assess their learning. As students submit an answer to each question a pop up will display feedback appropriate to their answer. Where appropriate, students will be referred back to learning material and given guidance regarding the correct answer. Students will be able to re-attempt the formative questions as many times as they wish.

Students will be encouraged to use the VLE resources to actively communicate with each other as learning peers. For the module there will be a notice board and a blog/comments area in addition to the announcements facility that will be used for exchanging ideas, asking questions, and providing feedback. This will be managed by the module leader, who will review and address any posted comments weekly during the semester.

Each student will be required to attend a 5-hour study day (broken into 2x2.5 hour practicals) to undertake practical activities to practice research skills and consolidate learning. As these study days will be small group (approximately 4-8 students per group depending on size of cohort) and will focus on discussion and debate they provide an excellent opportunity for evaluating students' progress with the study materials and for providing feedback on their learning. Separate study days will be timetabled for each group and each study day will be facilitated by either the module leader or other academic staff who support the module.

Students will be offered optional academic support sessions on an ad-hoc drop in basis if students have additional queries as the module progresses. This will be managed and organised by the module leader and may involve the other academic staff who support the module.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Assignment2500 word structured research protocol90.00
In-course MCQFORMATIVE: 6 blocks of questions with 0.5 hours to complete each block = 3 hours0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)90.00

Structured research protocol essay: The students will be required to select a research query from a limited pool of items. They will be required to redevelop the selected research query into a succinct research question and design an appropriate research study that aims to answer the research question. They will also be required to provide an analysis plan and evaluation of the strengths and limitations of their proposed study. All students will be provided with a blank template of a research protocol that provides the structure for this essay (study question, aims, design, analysis plan, and study limitations). They will be required to populate each section of the protocol with required information about their research. There will be a 2500 word limit.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online MCQ1 hr 00 mins10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)10.00

The summative MCQ exam will be conducted using online multiple choice questions hosted in the VLE (time-limited availability). Whilst it will not be a requirement of the module that students obtain 50% on the MCQ to pass the module, scores on the MCQ will be taken as ‘compensation’ for their grade on their research protocol assignment. Therefore, so long as a students’ overall grade on the module is above 50% they will pass the module. As there is no pass mark for the MCQ resits will not be offered.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:37:18


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