Intercalated BSc in Child Health Research

Developing the paediatric researchers of the future.

Taught by paediatric researchers from across the University of Bristol, this course is designed to help medical students to engage early in research, increasing their competitiveness for (academic) clinical jobs and a career in paediatrics. This iBSc provides students with the opportunity to develop real world research skills in leadership, time management, ethics, and involving patients and the public in research. We teach students how to write papers and apply for grant funding. We have designed the assessment to mirror the professional development and assessment of practicing clinicians to improve their exam skills.

Is this programme for me?

If you are interested in finding out more about research, like stretching yourself, and enjoy learning new skills - this course is for you. Teaching is delivered in small groups, is highly interactive and delivered by a wide range of lecturers, drawn from many of the world-leading paediatric research groups in Bristol. You will have the opportunity to conduct your own independent research, with projects ranging from neonatology to adolescence, epidemiology to molecular biology. You will be taught and have the opportunity to practice all the skills that you need to do research including how to think critically, analyse papers, perform analyses, present in public, lead groups and write your own paper. At the end of the course, you should be able to develop a publishable paper based on your project which will help your career.

What do previous students say about the iBSc in Child Health Research?

How is the course structured?

The course consists of three taught units and an interwoven research project. The units are:

Teaching block one (TB1)

Unit 1: Starting a Research Project in Child health

This unit will give you an overview of the methods available and the things you need to consider, when starting a research project involving children. You will learn generic and highly transferable research skills and what makes research in children different, including how to appraise existing evidence, and the advantages and disadvantages of different study designs. (20 credits)

Unit 2: Conducting Successful Child Health Research

This unit will help you understand how to successfully deliver research; with teaching on the ethics of research in children, how to carry out Public and Patient Involvement, and training on leadership and wellbeing. You will be taught how to write research papers, apply for grant funding, present your work and speak in public. (20 credits)

Teaching block two (TB2)

Unit 3: How to Analyse Results and Write Up a Project

Running alongside your research project (see below), this unit will teach you in a practical hands-on small weekly seminar format all the statistics you might need to analyse your results. We will also have sessions on how to make a great abstract/poster, how to give great presentations and group writing workshops. (20 credits)

Unit 4: Research Project

A core component of this course is a substantial research project based with one of the paediatric researchers in Bristol. This is designed to allow you to apply what you have learned in the previous units and learn more specialist techniques for a specific research area. (60 credits)


The course assessment is designed to prepare you for postgraduate training (reflection), exams (multiple choice questions/MCQs) and academic presentation and publication.

In Teaching Block 1, formative assessment will be delivered through a practice MCQ session and reflective notes on Patient and Public Involvement (PPI), ethical issues of a research project and leadership/wellbeing (on which you will receive feedback). Summative assessment (totalling 33% of the final degree) will be by MCQs on topics from unit 1, as well as by reflective written pieces on PPI (what worked and didn’t work), ethical issues in your planned research project, and research leadership (demonstrating insight) covering unit 2.

In Teaching Block 2, formative assessment will be based on a submitted abstract of your in-progress research project and group poster presentations. Summative assessment will be based on submission of your project write-up in the format of a 'research paper', with appendices demonstrating programme goals and a logbook of your progress during the year.

How to apply

Find out more about intercalated degrees at Bristol and how to apply.


For further information, please email

The course organisers are:

Dr Robin Marlow                  Honorary Senior Lecturer

Mentoring scheme

During the year each student on our course will be paired with a current Academic Foundation Programme Doctor as part of our mentoring scheme. They will provide support and meet with you throughout the year, offering advice on current projects, building your portfolio, or taking the next steps towards an academic medicine career. These meetings are informal and flexible, aiming to provide individualised support, encouragement and a listening ear. We trust your mentor will assist you in maximising what you gain from the course, whilst ensuring you feel well supported throughout!

*My mentor* is amazing! Reassuringly cleared up misconceptions about the AFP programme including different routes available and provided me with practical solutions to improve my position. She also gave me advice on managing the upcoming projects which helped settle me for the term ahead.


*My mentor* was really helpful. She told me all about the academic foundation programme and said she will ask her supervisor if there is anything I can get involved with at Southmead too.


What do previous students say about the iBSc in Child Health Research?

Students of 2021-22

What stood out to me this year is how invested all the tutors are in your goals and career plans. Not only have I been able to explore my own research interests, but I’ve also been able to receive great guidance and advice regarding future career paths which has been invaluable.


I am really glad I did an intercalated year in Child Health Research. This year, I have learned how to successfully conduct medical research including applying for ethics, gaining research grants, leading patient and public involvement groups, conducting a rapid systematic review, and conducting qualitative research. I found the supervisors very supportive and great to work with!


It has been a truly enjoyable and fruitful year at Bristol.


If you are thinking about choosing this course, do it! I have loved my year studying Child Health Research. As someone with previously limited research experience, it has completely transformed my perception of undertaking research. My professors, tutors and supervisors have been so approachable, personable and knowledgeable and there was a real sense of community in the course. I felt empowered to choose a research topic that I was genuinely interested in and working as part of a research team has been an invaluable experience.


Project titles (2021-2)

Here is a list of project titles from the previous year.

  • A rapid systematic review and meta-analysis of the prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms in children with long COVID.
  • Analysis of text message conversations between breastfeeding mothers and peer supporters.
  • Reviewing the evidence base on potty training: A scoping review.
  • Outcomes of paediatric uveitis with adalimumab monotherapy.
  • Investigating whether elevated C-reactive protein is associated with probable depression in paediatric myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
  • Modelling paediatric emergency department attendance and admissions: Can we usefully predict the future?
  • Predictors of successful weight loss in a childhood morbid obesity service.
  • Qualitative pilot study of the acceptability of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for children and adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Predictors and associations of impaired visuoconstructive skills.
  • Improving mental health by treating insomnia.

Frequently asked questions

Q - Do I have to have research experience?
A – No, we’re going to teach you that! But we do need you to have demonstrable skills in problem solving, communication, and teamwork.

Q – Do you have examples of research projects that are being offered?
A – Some examples of projects being offered this academic year are shown below. If there is a particular area that you have in mind let us know on your application form and we can get some expert guidance lined up for you.

  • An evaluation of paediatric long COVID clinics.
    • Lead supervisor Professor Esther Crawley
  • Predictors of successful weight loss in a childhood morbid obesity service.
    • Lead supervisor Professor Julian Hamilton-Shield
  • Modelling paediatric emergency department attendances and admissions.
    • Lead supervisor Dr Robin Marlow
  • Predictors and associations of impaired visuoconstructive skills in children as measured by the Bike Drawing test.
    • Lead supervisor Professor Cathy Williams

Q – What is the selection process?
A – We have ten places this year and we have a fair way of assessing you. There is an additional form that we like you to use to tell us how you have skills in problem solving, communication, and teamwork.

Q – Where will lectures be held?
A – We are hoping for small group teaching to be held in the teaching rooms on Whiteladies Road as that is where the Centre for Academic Child Health is based, but there are many factors that influence this.

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