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The University of Southampton

RESM6017 Critical Perspectives on Population Change, Health and Wellbeing

Module Overview

This module introduces students enrolled in the Masters in Social Research Methods to critical interdisciplinary perspectives in population change, health and wellbeing. The module is divided into three interconnecting parts: (1) Population change and the State, (2) Critical debates in health and health care and (3) Wellbeing and therapeutic landscapes (detailed below). The three parts offer students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds (e.g. demography, geography, psychology, social work, health sciences) the opportunity to engage with issues at the forefront of contemporary research. The interdisciplinary nature of work across these fields is reflected in the issues that researchers work on in these three thematic parts. The format of the module reflects our commitment to examine in-depth debate and discussion with space between sessions for students to carry out independent reading and research. Six x 3 hour sessions for teaching and one x 2 hour session for the formative policy briefing. The module content will include a mixture of lectures, seminars and interactive workshops with leading experts. There will be opportunity for group work and peer review, along with a session on the assessment.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

On completion of the module students should be able to demonstrate an ability to: 1) critically engage with an extended range of theoretical and empirical issues at the forefront of academic inquiry in population change, health and wellbeing; 2) examine a range of different kinds of research methods as they are being applied in current research in their fields; 3) debate research currently being conducted by researchers and of the intellectual context within which this research is conducted; 4) employ advanced skills in the identification and critical examination of the literature, including an awareness of ethical concerns and the inclusion and/or voice of the service user/patient/participant in the research process; 5) exhibit advanced skills in presentation delivery and in policy brief writing; 6) participate in enhanced skills in discussion and argument in seminar conditions.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Know and understand patterns and relationships in population change, health and wellbeing at a variety of scales;
  • Solve problems and make reasoned decisions.
  • Collect, interpret and synthesise different types of quantitative and qualitative geographical data;
  • Recognise the ethical issues involved in population change, health and wellbeing debates and enquiries.
  • Learn in familiar and unfamiliar situations;
  • Communicate effectively (in writing, verbally and through graphical presentations);
  • Identify, retrieve, sort and exchange relevant information using a wide range of sources;
  • Work as part of a team and to recognise and respect the viewpoints of others;
  • Manage time and organise work effectively.
  • Know and understand the interdisciplinary nature of studying the constitution of economic, social and political processes on health and wellbeing, and the influence of places on these processes;
  • Know and understand the socio-spatial dynamics of difference and inequality with particular reference to historical development, ethnicity, class, gender and the changing nature of society;
  • Know and understand contemporary debates about how to measure health;
  • Know and understand the contribution of scholarship to development of social, political, economic and cultural agendas, policies and practices.
  • Abstract and synthesise information from a variety of sources;
  • Assess and critically evaluate the merits of contrasting theories, explanations, policies;
  • Critically analyse and interpret data and text;
  • Develop reasoned arguments;


The main body of the syllabus will remain the same, drawing on research expertise of the three participating academic teaching staff, however some of the substantive debates in health care policy in the syllabus will vary from year to year, reflecting shifts in the research frontier. We envisage the following structure: • Three x 3 hour thematic sessions in Semester 1 • Three x 3 hour thematic sessions in Semester 2 • One x 2 hour formative assessment session in Semester 2 The venue for each thematic session will be circulated between the three South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership Institutions: University of Southampton, University of Brighton and Portsmouth University. The formative assessment session will take place in University of Southampton.

Special Features

The module is unique to the MSRM programme, and is a closed module solely for students awarded with SC DTP studentships on 1+3 awards. Despite registering at University of Southampton for the MSRM, the students will travel between the three participating institutions for different sessions. We aim to organise a Brighton sea-front ‘walk and talk’ session during the module. The three academics teaching the module all have experience of working closely with disabled people, and will ensure to include a disability proofing of the plan for this event.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Students will attend and participate in seminar style sessions, where staff present their ongoing work and receive feedback. Students will also be expected to do readings ahead of each session and share their insights and comments in a group discussion. They will also attend and participate in relevant departmental colloquia involving academics from Southampton, Brighton, Portsmouth and other institutions who are invited to present their work. Attendance and participation in these gatherings is directly related to the aims and learning outcomes identified above.

Follow-up work18
Preparation for scheduled sessions12
Wider reading or practice30
Completion of assessment task20
Total study time100

Resources & Reading list

London School of Tropical Medicine, Team for Health Economics, Policy and Technology Assessment Working Papers.

Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies Working Papers.

Centre for Population Change (CPC, Economic and Social Research Council) Working papers.

Institute of Research into Superdiversity (IRIS, University of Birmingham) Working Papers.

Department of Sociology, Oxford University, Working Papers.



MethodPercentage contribution
Policy brief 15%
Policy Brief Report 85%


MethodPercentage contribution
Policy Brief Report 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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