Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

HMPR3005 Applied Healthcare Research in Policy Practice

Module Overview

The aim of this module is to examine contemporary examples of healthcare policy-making practice and their use of social scientific research in order to consider the effectiveness of health policy development and its relationship with research evidence. The module will build on the policy, research and social science modules in previous years. In reviewing and examining the professional application of social scientific skills, knowledge and understanding to selected areas of policy making you will develop your appreciation of a multi-disciplinary approach to system design and delivery in real local, national and international healthcare contexts.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the effectiveness of the relationship between healthcare research and the policy making process.
  • Recognise the role of stakeholder interests (e.g. patient groups, third sector pressure groups, the private sector, the media) in healthcare policy-making and research.
  • Discuss the way in which theories and methodologies have been used, excluded or deployed in real world healthcare delivery situations.
  • Appraise the contribution that different social science perspectives can make to the development of health policy.
  • Display an awareness of and sensitivity to the different voices (professional, expert, consumer) at work in healthcare policy-making.


This unit examines the relationship between social science and health policy. This is explored by means of historical and contemporary case studies which highlight the use of social science research in the formation, implementation and evaluation of healthcare policy. During the module you will look at health policy making processes and institutions and critically review the use of social science research by government departments. Specifically, we will consider whether academic research leads to changes in current policy or to the formulation of new policies; what theoretical and methodological issues might need to be considered; when and why might social science research be ignored by policymakers; and how academic research might be manipulated or misused as part of the policy process. You will also consider what role organisations other than government play in the healthcare policy process. For example, to what extent policy-making must now be considered beyond the national government context; what influence do pressure groups and the media have? Finally you will consider what social science research tells us about the practical, financial and ethical considerations that need to be taken into account when formulating policy? The case studies considered will vary in each year dependent on policy development and the research activities of staff. However, indicative case study topic areas might include, NICE and the development of Alzheimer's treatment; the application of telemedicine to service delivery; the introduction of the NHS 111 service for urgent care; cancer survivorship policy.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This unit is taught by a combination of lectures, case study workshops and seminars. Lectures and workshops will introduce the key concepts and critical debates surrounding the relationship between social science research and health policy and practice. Lectures will be delivered by senior researchers within the Faculty from a range of research and clinical backgrounds and will be used to present the case studies and engage you in discussion around the relationship between research and policy in relation to the issues raised for each case. Seminars will draw together the learning from lectures and workshops to help you apply your understanding of the assignment.

Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Follow-up work30
Wider reading or practice30
Completion of assessment task51
Total study time188

Resources & Reading list

Blakemore, K (2007). Social Policy: An Introduction. 

Bochel, C & H (2004). The UK Social Policy Process. 

Riesch, H. and Spiegelhalter (2011). Careless pork costs lives: risk stories from science to press release to media. Health, Risk and Society. , pp. 46-67.

Smith, K (2007). Health Inequalities in Scotland and England: The contrasting Journeys of Ideas from Research Into Policy. Social Science and Medicine. ,64 , pp. 1438-1449.

Alaszewski, A. and Brwon, P. (2012). Making Health Policy: A critical introduction. 

Pilgrim, D. (2007). New Mental Health Legislation for England and Wales: some aspects of consensus and conflict. Journal of Social Policy. ,36 , pp. 79-95.

Solomon, E and Roberts, R (2008). The Policy Making Process. Criminal Justice Matters. ,72 , pp. 1.

Critical Thinking about the Uses of Research London: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.

Walsh, M, Stephens, P and Moore, S (2008). Social Policy and Welfare. 

Langan, M (1998). Welfare: Needs, Rights and Tasks. 

Hudson, J and Lowe, S (2009). Understanding the Policy Process. 

Levin, P. (1997). Making Social Policy: the mechanisms of government and politics, and how to investigate them. 

Solesbury, W (2001). The Ascendancy of Evidence. Planning Theory and Practice. ,3 , pp. 90-96.



MethodPercentage contribution
Case study 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Case study 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings