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The University of Southampton

HLTH6192 Design and Methods for Clinical and Health Research

Module Overview

This module is suitable for students who are planning to conduct an empirical project for their dissertation, or who work in clinical and health research settings. Learning is shared with the doctoral training programme.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module aims to provide training in research design and methods for students embarking on an empirical research project in health sciences. The module is designed to enable you to develop knowledge and understanding of research design and methods and apply these to critique of the literature, generating research questions, planning and conducting clinical research.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically appraise and integrate a wide range of literature related to your area of research, both from a scientific and a pragmatic perspective, and in the context of a health care environment.
  • Identify questions or topics relating to your area of practice and carry out a comprehensive literature search
  • Demonstrate an understanding of relevant research design and methods through critical appraisal of selected literature
  • Critically evaluate relevant research evidence and synthesise recommendations for your area of health and/or social care practice.
  • Identify and justify appropriate and feasible research question(s).


1. The value and meaning of scientific research in the context of health care services and systems 2. Information and data management skills, using effective search strategies 3. Critically appraising research material using appropriate tools 4. Designing addressable research questions, aims and objectives; 5. Research paradigms, philosophies and methodologies; 6. A wide range of research designs, including randomised controlled trials, complex intervention studies, surveys, economic evaluation, phenomenology, case study and action research 7. Introduction to data collection methods used in quantitative and qualitative traditions; including for example, surveys, and interviews, diary-method 8. Construction of data collection tools used in research; 9. Introduction to the issues of reliability and validity and the naturalistic equivalent of credibility 10. Statistics: e.g. the use of quantitative data in epidemiology and population demographics, describing and summarizing data, estimation and confidence intervals, hypotheses and significance testing, determining sample sizes; 11. Qualitative data analysis techniques; 12. Developing a research protocol 13. UK legislation and institutional policy related to data management and data archiving 14. Ethical principles relating to the conduct of research and research in clinical practice.

Special Features

Student support The following forms of support will be available to students within the Faculty: • Programme Lead; • Module leaders and lecturers; • On-line resources located on the Blackboard learning site. In addition, you will have access to all the resources and services provided by the University including library research support, IT support from iSolutions, iSurvey, Researcher Development and Graduate Centre, Career Management support, International Student Support, Enabling Services, Students Services, and the Sports Centre. This module is designed for students who will do an empirical research project. This module is therefore core for the MRes. Learning is shared with the doctoral training programme. Students from other programmes or requesting this for CPD will need agreement from the MRes Programme Lead. MRes students will be given priority if places are limited.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching sessions are designed and facilitated by research active staff from across the Faculty. You will learn collaboratively and inter-professionally throughout the module. The taught sessions are shared with students from doctoral training programme. Active student participation in all learning activities of the module will be promoted so that you will assume responsibility for your own learning. A range of student-centred learning and teaching strategies will be employed that will include the use of workshops, interactive lectures by key experts in their field, tutor- and student-led seminars, case study analysis, independent supported learning and individual supervision. To support your learning throughout the module, material and resources and course documentation and further reading suggestions will be available via Blackboard - the University’s web-based managed learning environment.

Independent Study215
Total study time250

Resources & Reading list

Gabbay J, le May A (2010). Practice-based Evidence for Healthcare: Clinical Mindlines. 

Scott, I. and Mazhindu, D. (2014). Statistics for Healthcare Professions: An Introduction. 

Brett Davies M (2007). Doing a Successful Research Project: Using Qualitative or Quantitative Methods. 

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

Greenhalgh T (2010). The Basics of Evidence-based Medicine. 

Clearly, L (2013). Doing cross-cultural research with integrity: Collected wisdom from researchers in social settings. 

Pallant, J. (2013). The SPSS Survival Guide (5th Edition). 

Polit DF, Beck CT (2010). Essentials of Nursing Research: Appraising Evidence for Nursing Practice. 

Streiner DL, Norman GR (2008). Health Measurement Scales. 

Muir Gray JA (2009).  Evidence-based Healthcare. 

Craig JV, Smyth RL (2011). The Evidence-Based Practice Manual for Nurses. 

Oppenheim AN (2000). Questionnaire design, interviewing and attitude measurement. 

National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM.

Robson C (2011). Real World Research. 

Denzin NK, Lincoln, YS (Eds) (2005). The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research. 

Aveyard, H (2010). Doing a literature review in health and social care: a practical guide. 

Field, A. & Hole, G.J (2003). How to Design and Report Experiments. 

Phillips EM, Pugh DS (2010). How to get a PhD. A handbook for students and their supervisors. 

Leech, N.L., Barrett, K.C. & Morgan, G.A. (2014). IBM SPSS for Intermediate Statistics: Use and Interpretation. 

Costley, C (2010).  Doing Work-Based Research: approaches to enquiry for insider-researcher. 

Holloway I, Wheeler, S (2010). Qualitative Research in Nursing and Healthcare. 

Morgan, G.A., Leeach, N.L., Gloeckner, G.W. & Barrett, K.C (2012). IBM for SPSS Introductory Statistics: Use and Interpretation. 

Somekh, B (2006).  Action Research: A methodology for change and development. 

Punch. K (2006). Developing effective research proposals. 

Law M (2008). Evidence-Based Rehabilitation: A Guide to Practice. 

Vitae – Realising the potential of researchers.

Drake, P and Heath (2011). Practitioner research at doctoral level: developing coherent research methodologies. 

The Field (2013) text has a companion website.

Cluett ER, Bluff R (2006). Principles and Practice of Research in Midwifery. 

McGill I & Brockbank A (2004). The Action Learning Handbook. 


Assessment Strategy

The formative assessment will comprise a short written summary detailing the choice of topic for review and the rationale for this in relation to clinical/health research. Completion of the summative assessment for this module, as follows: You will identify a topic relevant to clinical or health care research and carry out a literature search on this topic. You will produce a literature review which critiques current evidence in your chosen area and use this to develop and justify a research question/questions. The review should be 3,500 words +/-10%. Feedback Method For the formative assessment, students will receive brief e-mail feedback on their assignment plan/extract from the assignment from the module leader, in line with the policy on reading drafts. For the summative assignment, detailed written feedback highlighting strengths of the assignment and areas for development will be provided by the marker. A pass mark of 50% must be achieved in this summative assessment to successfully complete this module.


Written summary


MethodPercentage contribution
Literature review  (3500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: External

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