The University of Southampton

HLTH8012 Research Dissertation

Module Overview

The Research Dissertation is offered at level 8 for students progressing to Part 2 of the Integrated PhD programme. Successful completion the dissertation will entitle you to the intermediate award of MRes in Clinical & Health Research. The purpose of the dissertation is to provide a bridge between Level 7 and Level 8 studies and, in particular, to provide an opportunity to rehearse key research skills and conduct preparatory work to underpin the development of your doctoral thesis.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide students with experience of undertaking an independent research project relevant to their own field of practice, which will contribute to the development of a doctoral thesis (e.g. by piloting methods, addressing preliminary questions, testing feasibility, establishing a dataset etc.). This will include formulating an appropriate question, planning and undertaking a piece of original research, peer review, data analysis, presentation to peers, and writing up in the form of a paper, with appropriate supervision. The paper will be in a format suitable for publication in a peer reviewed academic journal and will demonstrate knowledge and appraisal of a wide range of relevant literature and show that this has been applied to the design, execution, research reflexivity, and reporting of the project.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Develop and justify an original research question relevant to your practice/field of interest.
  • Make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields.
  • Conduct an effective literature search related to your research question and critically appraise the literature.
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of different research paradigms/philosophies and how to apply them appropriately to your chosen research question.
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of ethical and research governance principles in relation to your chosen area of research.
  • Undertake your research to address your specific question (with appropriate supervision).
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply a recognised framework to analyse research data and critically interpret this in light of current knowledge.
  • Justify your conclusions using well-reasoned arguments and taking into account the limitations or constraints of the study.
  • Evaluate and reflect on your own performance as a researcher to make recommendations for future practice/research and explain how these recommendations might be implemented for future practice/research.
  • Clearly & effectively report the conduct of your research in accordance with requirements for publication in an academic journal; present your findings to a non-specialist audience.


This module builds on content covered by the Level 7 modules in the iPhD programme, and includes: • Working with a supervisor • Developing a series of linked pieces of research (e.g. pilot & main study) • Applying critical appraisal and synthesis skills • Developing a researchable question • Designing a research protocol • Ethics and research governance processes • The process of peer review • Quantitative and qualitative data analysis and reporting • Interpretation and presentation of findings • Reflexivity in research • Oral presentation skills • Authorship/writing skills • Project and time management

Special Features

Students will have opportunity to work and liaise with research active staff at this research-led university.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Active student participation in all learning activities of the module will be promoted so that students assume responsibility for their own learning. This module adopts a range of teaching and learning strategies including: • Self-directed learning • Peer review • Problem solving approaches • Academic supervision • Tutorials • Small collaborative and inter-professional group work (Action Learning Sets) • Web-based resources • Blackboard (including discussion boards) • Reflective learning • Guided reading

Independent Study684
Total study time750

Resources & Reading list

Flick U (2014). An introduction to qualitative research. 

Green J, Thorogood N (2013). Qualitative methods for health research. 

Hart C (2001). Doing a literature search: a comprehensive guide for the social sciences. 

O'Leary Z (2010). The essential guide to doing your research project. 

Polit DF, Beck C (2012). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice. 

Curtis E, Drennan J (2013). Quantitative Health Research: Issues and Methods. 

Finlay L, Gough B (2003). Reflexivity: A practical guide for researchers in health and social sciences. 

Field A (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS. 

Portney LG, Watkins MP (2013). Foundations of clinical research: applications to practice. 

McDowell I (2004). Measuring health: a guide to rating scales and questionnaires. 

Friedman LM, Furberg CD, DeMets DL (1998). Fundamentals of clinical trials. 

Hart C (1998). Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination. 

Bowling A (2014). Research methods in health: investigating health and health services. 


Assessment Strategy

Compulsory, mandatory and course completion imperatives: You will submit a proposal for a research study (3500 words +/- 10%) prior to conducting the data collection phase of your project. This will be reviewed by your research supervisor. The proposal will be assessed on a pass/fail basis, and it is a course requirement to pass this assessment. You are also required to produce a comprehensive project file as a record of the research process, with details each stage of your research journey (e.g. how decisions were made, details of supervision meetings etc.). Summative (final) assessment: You will undertake a research study involving the collection and analysis of original data and the presentation and discussion of research findings: • A report will be presented as a research paper written in the style and to the requirements of a peer reviewed academic journal of your choice. You should adhere to the relevant instructions to authors for your chosen journal (n.b. there is a maximum word limit for your paper of 5,000 words). If the instructions to authors give no, or a very high, word limit this figure will represent the maximum number of words permitted. As part of the assessment you will submit the name of the journal you have selected, together with a copy of the ‘instructions to authors’. This will form 80% of the total mark for this module. • You will prepare and present a 10-minute version of your findings, suitable for a lay audience, to be delivered to a group of peers. This will form 20% of the total mark for this module. You may be required to attend an oral examination if your assessors require clarification about some aspect of the dissertation or if an oral examination is deemed useful to help assessors come to a decision about a final mark when the initial agreed mark falls on the pass/fail borderline. Assessment requirements (i.e. proportion and weighting of coursework/number, type and duration of examination/s): You will be awarded the credits dependent on achieving a pass of 50% in the dissertation module. The assessment weighting is 80% (written paper), 20% (oral presentation). Both elements must be passed.


Research proposal


MethodPercentage contribution
Findings presentation  (10 minutes) 20%
Research Report  (5000 words) 80%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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