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Health Research Methods - HEA00090M

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  • Department: Health Sciences
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Noreen Mdege
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

  • None

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module will provide students with the knowledge and skills required to understand, interpret, critically appraise and otherwise engage with research findings and the the research process in the field of medicine/health services.


Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the meaning and importance of health research methods in the context of evidence-based medicine.
  2. Define the nature and use of quantitative versus qualitative research.
  3. Describe the main study designs used in health services research, their advantages and disadvantages, and their position in the ‘hierarchy of evidence’.
  4. Understand epidemiological and statistical concepts and parameters central to the design of research studies and have the ability to interpret and critically appraise them.
  5. Make informed decisions on which study designs to use for a given research problem
  6. Describe, plan analysis for, and undertake simple analysis of quantitative data, using statistical methods and statistical software.

Module content

Module content:

This distance learning module is divided into two main parts: Part 1 (autumn term), dedicated to statistics, is delivered over 8 online sessions. Part 2 (spring term), dedicated largely to study designs and methodological aspects, is delivered over 9 online sessions.

For both parts, lectures and associated materials for self-study are delivered to students via adaptive release (previous week's quiz needs to be passed to get access to the following week's session).

Throughout the module duration, students will be encouraged to get in touch with the modules leader and ask questions or seek clarification on session content.

Part 1:

Collecting Data: The unit provides an overview in designing a research questionnaire, specifically it looks at the importance of clarity in asking questions, types of questions, scales, validity, coding, sensitive questions, and methods of administration.

Analysing Data: This unit will provide basic understanding and skills in descriptive and inferential statistics and how to perform these using SPSS. It will look at making sense of the statistical results presented in the literature, more specifically:

  • Describing and summarising data (measures of central tendency and spread), graphical representations, the normal distribution and introduction to SPSS
  • Comparing means of two samples independent/dependent using the t-test.
  • Cross-tabulations of two categorical variables, the Chi-squared and Fisher’s exact tests for association
  • Scatter diagrams and correlation coefficient

Part 2:

A general introduction detailing the role and meaning of health research methods in the context of evidence-based medicine and epidemiology will be given and the hierarchy of evidence produced by the main study designs be introduced. After that, sessions will focus on individual study designs (observational studies; randomised controlled trials; systematic reviews & meta-analysis, qualitative studies) and on concepts central to the design of studies, including information searching and handling, and ethics and research governance


Task Length % of module mark Group
Coursework - extensions not feasible/practicable
Online Statistical Quiz
N/A 15 Default
Health Research Methods Written Task
N/A 10 Default
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Health Research Methods
N/A 75 Default
Health Research Methods Written Task
N/A 10 B
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Health Research Methods
N/A 90 B

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative quizzes will take place weekly.

Summative quizzes will take place in weeks 3, 6 and 9 of module part 1.



Task Length % of module mark Group
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Reassessment exam
N/A 100 Default
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Reassessment exam
N/A 100 B

Module feedback

Automatic feedback on formative assessment will be provided via the VLE. Cohort feedback will be provided for the summative assessment in line with Departmental policy for examinations

Indicative reading

Altman DG. (1991) Practical statistics for medical research. London: Chapman and Hall.

Bland, Martin. (2015). An introduction to medical statistics. Oxford University Press

Bowling A (2009) Research Methods in Health: Investigating Health and Health Services, Open University Press, Milton Keynes

Farmer R and Lawrenson R (2004) Lecture Notes on Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine by (ISBN: 9781405106740). John Wiley &Co, Oxford

Peacock, J and Peacock, P. (2010) Oxford handbook of medical statistics. Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Peacock, J and Kerry S. (2007) Presenting medical statistics from proposal to publication: a step-by-step guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Field, A. (2013) Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics. SAGE.

Pallant, J. (2013) SPSS survival manual: a step by step guide to data analysis using IBM SPSS (5th edition), Open University Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.