PMMR1A-Research Methods

Module Provider: Pharmacy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy


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, 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. 

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.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students will be assessed by a written critical review of chosen literature. At the end of the module, students should understand the theoretical principles underlying a range of core research techniques, be able to perform them experimentally and apply them to address scientific or practice-related problems. Students will be able to critically evaluate research methods and be able to select the appropriate methods for addressing a particular research question or hypothesis. In addition, students will also be able to perform statistical or qualitative data analyses, demonstrate understanding of the appropriate statistical tests to perform, where applicable, and identify and avoid common pitfalls in statistics and experimental design or qualitative analysis.

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 two blocks. The first block will include lectures on generic research methodologies and the second block will use seminars/workshops/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). Generic research methodologies (10 hours): • Literature search, 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 • Liquid and semi-solid formulations • Mass-, and NMR spectroscopy • Infrared and Raman spectroscopy • UV-spectroscopy • Thermal analysis • X-ray diffractometry • Particle size analysis techniques (Dynamic Light Scattering, electron microscopy) •  Praticle production and coating. 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.

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 5
Demonstration 40
External visits 0
Guided independent study 145
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Written work to be submitted by end of University of Reading Autumn Term.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy. 

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;

  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:

    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

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:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:

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

Reassessment arrangements:

Reassessment will by written assignment set by the module convenor.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 31 March 2017

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