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HSC8001 : Fundamentals of Research

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Steph Scott
  • Co-Module Leader: Professor Mark Pearce
  • Lecturer: Professor Anthony De Soyza, Dr Louise Hayes, Professor Catherine Exley, Dr Kate Gibson, Dr Siân Russell, Dr Fiona Campbell, Dr Katherine Jackson, Mr Liam Spencer
  • Owning School: Population Health Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


Through combining lectures, practical sessions and self-directed learning, this module will introduce the core concepts of applied research methods in the health sciences. The aim is to provide all students with a basic grounding in qualitative and quantitative research methods, so that they are able to understand, critique and apply different research designs to applied health and social science research questions.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module provides an introduction and broad overview of the following topics:
1) Formulating research questions, epistemology, approaches to research (quantitative and qualitative)
2) Introduction to research methods:
-       Cross-sectional, ecological and descriptive studies
-       Case-control studies
-       Cohort studies
-       Randomised controlled trials
-       Qualitative interviews/focus groups
- Visual and creative methods
-       Mixed methods studies
3) Analytical Methods:
-       Measure of frequency (incidence and prevalence)
-       Measures of association and risk (rate ratios, relative risks, odds ratios)
-       Specific and standardized rates
-       Qualitative data analysis
4) Ensuring quality in research
-       The hierarchy of quantitative research evidence and causality
-       Critical appraisal: Bias, confounding and effect modification
-       Validity and reliability (and related concepts from qualitative research)
-       Generalisability/transferability
- Research ethics

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion501:0050:00Preparation of two part summative assignment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading301:0030:00preparation for lectures and practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching201:3030:00Present in person: interactive seminars, incorporating group work and practical activities
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study901:0090:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The anticipated number of students and the nature of the learning and skills objectives indicate that a participative approach to teaching and learning, with ample time for discussion and practical activities in small and plenary groups, is more appropriate than formal lectures; hence the emphasis on seminars as the main mode of delivery. Learning materials will be made available to students in advance of seminars, using the VLE learning platform, and it will be expected that students have done the required preparatory work.

To develop and practice the practical skills of research design and data interpretation, seminars will incorporate student-led group work sessions in which students will work in small groups on a practical task, such as designing a piece of research to address a specified research question and calculating and interpreting principal measures of disease frequency, risk and association used by epidemiologists and health services researchers. The teaching will also introduce students to qualitative research design and methodology including enactment for interview and focus group research. Across the module there will be a mixture of lectures and seminars/practical sessions during which students will be encouraged to interact with one another and discuss/practice the use of different research methods. There is a focus on practical sessions which are the most effective way to impart the skills required for health sciences research.

As this is a Masters level course, students will be expected to engage in significant self-guided learning, including allocated essential and further reading and accessing web-based learning resources. In order to ensure that all students are at a similar level of comprehension students will be asked to read and prepare prior to the seminars and practical sessions.
This module aims to provide students with the confidence and skills to undertake their own piece of qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods research.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M50To write a 2,000 word (maximum) assignment in response to a series of short answer questions.
Written exercise1M50To write a 2,000 word (maximum) qualitative research protocol
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MA side of A4 (300 max) outlining appropriate qualitative research aim/question to be addressed in assignment 2, along with rationale
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The first written assignment will test students’ understanding of measurement and design issues in epidemiology and health services research by asking for in-depth discussion of these topics and will require students to demonstrate their ability to calculate and interpret one or more key measures of disease frequency, risk or association. Students will be asked to produce a 2,000 word structured assignment for which they will be presented with information and data relating to quantitative study. They will be asked to answer a series of short answer questions in relation to this study.

The second written assignment will enable us to assess students’ ability to apply their skills and knowledge in planning and designing a rigorous qualitative study and conduct appropriate analysis. They will be asked to produce a 2,000 word research protocol consisting of pre-defined sub-headings. They will have the option of writing their protocol as a follow-on to the study in assignment 1 or another health-related topic, to be agreed in advance with the module lead as part of the formative assessment.

Reading Lists