PMM1RM-Research Methods for Health Sciences

Module Provider: Pharmacy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Gary Stephens


Type of module:

Summary module description:

The module is aimed at postgraduate students who want to learn and develop the required research skills for conducting research in clinical and health-related sciences. This module provides students with an introduction to the philosophies of research methods and to the types of skills required to plan, design, conduct and present a piece of original research. This module also aims to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for sampling and collecting qualitative and quantitative data and also introduces appropriate statistical and practical techniques to analyse the different types of data. This module has been designed to be delivered through distance learning, using screen and video casting, interactive discussion forums and web-based seminars in the University’s virtual learning environment.   


This module aims to:

  • Develop self-sustaining and cogent research management skills at an appropriate level.

  • Develop knowledge of a research project lifecycle

  • Develop a critical and reflective approach to research practice.

Assessable learning outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate their own research practice using self-reflection.

  2. Apply knowledge of the peer-review role and process.

  3. Reflect on a range of research methodologies.

  4. Formulate an appropriate research plan for the purposes of conducting a research project.

  5. Develop and critically evaluate research methodology.

  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of ethics and governance in research

At the end of the module students should have identified, through analysis of the literature and following discussion with peers and academics, a suitable research problem to address. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the background to the research area and design a research plan to successfully answer the research question posed. Students will write a referenced outline research proposal that will be assessed.

Additional outcomes:

Students will develop communication, writing and reflection skills through participation in critical discussions of the research papers studied. Students will also learn about the research lifecycle and consider the ethical implications of their work.

Outline content:


  • Introduction to the module – including content, method of delivery and student engagement.

  • Introduction to learning outcomes and assessments.


  • Introduction to ethics – what is it and why is it important

  • Ethical processes to adhere to (e.g. University of Reading Ethics, NHS ethics) with global context.

  • Ethical case studies to reflect upon

Evidence based medicine

  • Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine

  • Statistical Significance, Probability, Risk and Bias.

Research design

  • An introduction to research design.

  • Quantitative and qualitative methods.

  • Reflection on various data collection and analysis approaches.

  • Audit and service evaluation studies.

Research lifecycle

  • Literature search and referencing.

  • Project planning and time management.

  • Principles of writing, publishing and communicating research papers.

Global context:

Research ethics and the procedures undertaken to gain ethical approval will be considered in a global context.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module will be delivered using screen and/or video casting, interactive discussion forums and web-based seminars in the University’s virtual learning environment and guided independent study.   

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

This module will be assessed using one written assignment (limited to 4000 words).  The written assignment will normally will be submitted in Week 1 Spring term but submission deadlines will depend on which the post-graduate Masters programme students are enrolled on.

Formative assessment methods:

Formative assessment methods used to support skills development and improve student performance will include peer review of research proposals and critical evaluation of research articles.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:

Students must achieve a mark of 50% to pass this module.

Reassessment arrangements:

Reassessment will be by written assignment.  Students requiring reassessment will have their module mark capped at 50%.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 8 October 2018


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