PMMR1-Research Methods and Advanced Topics

Module Provider: Pharmacy
Number of credits: 30 [15 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module will provide students with the advanced skills required to design, manage and conduct a successful research project at postgraduate level. It will include generic skills training in research methods, such as literature analysis, project planning, data handling, and writing for publication. It will also provide experience of the specialised methods used for conducting research in one of the areas of neuroscience, formulation design and analysis, or pharmacy practice. Additionally, this module will familiarise students with advanced research topics in neuroscience, formulation design and analysis, or pharmacy practice.


This module will familiarise students with a range of key analytical research techniques and will enable them to decide on the most appropriate methods to use in conducting their own research. The practical knowledge gained in this module will enable students to perform their own experiments and conduct their own research. In this module, students will also learn about the latest developments in their relevant disciplines (Formulation Design and Analysis, Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience and Pharmacy Practice) and will learn how to develop their own research proposal.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students should be able to:

  • Perform a range of core experimental research techniques, applying them to address scientific or practice-related problems

  • Explain the theoretical principles underlying these core research techniques

  • Critically evaluate research methods

  • Select appropriate methods for addressing a research question or hypothesis

  • Perform statistical or qualitative data analysis, demonstrating understanding of the appropriate tests to perform, where applicable

  • Identify and avoid common pitfalls in statistics and experimental design or qualitative analysis

  • Reflect on chosen elective taught sessions, their value and relevance to the topic of their dissertation

Additional outcomes:

Students will develop important transferable skills such as communication skills, critical thinking and team working.

Outline content:

The module content will be delivered in three blocks. The first block will include lectures on research methodologies; the second block will use workshops covering subject-specific topics and practical demonstrations as appropriate to demonstrate research techniques from three available options specific to the discipline of specialisation (Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience, Formulation Design and Analysis or Pharmacy Practice); the third block will include elective lectures, identified and attended by the students.

Generic research methodologies (10 hours): • Literature searching, information resources, referencing, academic writing and plagiarism • Principles of writing research papers • Quantitative analysis and statistical techniques • Ethical aspects of research • Project planning and design • Project time management • Health and safety regulations • Research funding • Presentation skills • Publishing & communicating research results.

Specific research methodologies:

  • Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience content: • Molecular neuroscience (e.g, qPCR, cloning, mutagenesis, mRNA isolation) • Electrophysiology (e.g. patch clamp, microelectrode, wire myography and multi-electrode array) • Primary and secondary tissue culture of cells and tissue slice preparation • Microscopy (e.g. multi-photon imaging, calcium imaging, confocal microscopy, live cell imaging) • Cell-based assay (e.g. ELISA, fluorescence, FACS, viability assays) • Protein purification and identification (e.g. Western blotting, immunohistochemistry) • In vivo pharmacology • Epigenetics • Cell printing • Mathematical modelling.

  • Formulation Design and Analysis content: • Formulations in everyday life (cosmetics, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, paints and coatings), pharmaceutical solid dosage forms • Mass-, and NMR spectroscopy • Infrared and Raman spectroscopy • UV-spectroscopy • Thermal analysis • X-ray diffractometry • Particle size analysis techniques (Dynamic Light Scattering, electron microscopy). Pharmacy practice content: • Qualitative and quantitative project design • Analysis of qualitative interviews or other textual data using thematic analysis (based on established theory) • Analysis of qualitative interviews or other textual data using grounded theory (to generate theory de novo) • Analysis of qualitative interviews or other textual data using discourse analysis (to highlight the social construction of reality) • Conduct of structured case-based paper experiments and application of analysis of variance • Content analysis of text and the application of the Pearson’s chi-square test.

  • Elective lectures content (10 hrs): Additionally, after selection of their dissertation project and the supervisor, all students will be required to identify and attend 10 lectures from the Part 4 MPharm curriculum and/or any other available courses of an appropriate level (research seminars, Chemistry or Biology programs, where relevant). They will be required to keep a personalised training record of activities they attended.

  • Project and supervisor selection: In the beginning of the Autumn term (week 6), students will attend a selection of short talks by academic supervisors, presenting potential MSc projects. Following these talks, project and supervisor selection and allocation will take place.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The teaching and learning methods used will include lectures, seminars, workshops and practical demonstrations.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 4
Tutorials 5
Demonstration 30 30
Practicals classes and workshops 6
Guided independent study 145 70
Total hours by term 200.00 100.00
Total hours for module 300.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Project output other than dissertation 25
Set exercise 25

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Written assignment:  A critical review of chosen literature, to be submitted by the end of week 15.

Project output: Project outline to be submitted and mini-viva to be conducted at the beginning of Spring term (week 20).

Set exercise: Written reflective statement on the elective lectures attended, to be submitted by the end of week 30.

Formative assessment methods:

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 an overall weighted average mark of 50% to pass this module.

Reassessment arrangements:

Reassessment will by written assignment set by the module convenor.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 18 September 2018


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