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Unit information: Hacking 4 NHS in 2021/22

Unit name Hacking 4 NHS
Unit code INOV30005
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Parker
Open unit status Not open

There are no pre-requisite units.


Depending on your home programme, you may be required to take a co-requisite research project unit:

  • iBSc Bioethics – Bioethics Dissertation (H4NHS option)
  • iBSc Clinical Sciences – Literary dissertation
  • MRes Health Sciences Research – Research Project in Health Sciences (Hacking for NHS option) 
  • MRes Health Sciences Research (Renal) - Research Project in Health Sciences Renal (Hacking for NHS option) 
  • MRes Health Sciences Research (Translational Cardiovascular Medicine) - Research Project in Health Sciences TCM (Hacking for NHS option)
School/department Centre for Innovation
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Why is this unit important?

Working with academic mentors and sponsors from the NHS, students will work in small interdisciplinary groups to tackle real life healthcare challenges, and propose solutions and or new/better understanding of the problems faced.

Students will work in an agile manner in small groups to research, specify and develop innovative solutions to their NHS set challenge. This will be based on the use of agile development which fosters collaboration, innovation, and results.

This unit will require students to generate and sift through ideas, seek out and create appropriate proof of concepts, and develop robust and flexible methods of working in an iterative, agile and responsive manner.

How does this unit fit into your programme of study

This is an optional unit that will give you the opportunity to engage in real world interdisciplinary problem solving, developing skills in transdisciplinary innovation and collaboration through challenge led learning.

Depending on your home programme, you can choose to undertake this unit in place of the standard research project or as an optional unit taken alongside a smaller research project.

This unit will be “must pass” on the majority of programmes that offer it – see programme specific information for further details.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The Unit encourages development of skill across all 9 key areas of the Bristol Skills framework. It aims to:

  • provide students with deep knowledge and understanding of some of the most pressing healthcare challenges facing the NHS
  • provide students with insights into the constraints and opportunities facing government as it seeks to address these challenges
  • equip students with a range of methodological tools focused around Lean Start-up principles that can be applied to real-world healthcare problems
  • provide high quality experiential learning by working on a real-world problem
  • provide students with the means to critically assess the value and relevance of methodological tools as they relate to specific problems
  • help students develop a repeatable model for problem-solving that can be used in a range of other contexts

Students will learn a range of general and employability skills

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Apply Lean Start-up principles to real-world healthcare and develop and test hypotheses;
  2. Apply understanding of the NHS and healthcare domain to recognise and interpret complex problems and formulate responses and solutions;
  3. Identify, assess and explain a complex problem using specialised and empirically-based knowledge;
  4. Appraise and critically assess complex material from a wide body of literature, and exercise independent judgment in how it is used:
  5. Coordinate a team and critically reflect on their role in an interdisciplinary team and appraise their strengths and weaknesses as team members.

Teaching Information

This Unit is based on a flipped classroom and problem-based learning model which aims to maximise student engagement during class time.

Students are required to watch the weekly lecture and to prepare for each class by reading/viewing the recommended resources. The information in the weekly lectures and readings will allow students to complete their interviews (see below) and present the insights the teaching team will expect in presentations.

Recognising the workload for the class, we have selected short items for this reading/viewing list and have added ‘further resources’ for those who are interested in looking into some areas in more depth. Students should expect to devote 1 - 1.5 hours per week to this preparation.

In addition to this, students will spend a significant amount of time conducting interviews related to their project. Each week the student team will conduct a minimum of ten interviews focused on a specific part of the “Mission Model Canvas”; a visual tool and framework originally designed to rapidly test hypotheses against solutions for government issues.

It is important to bear in mind that this Unit aims to simulate what start-ups and entrepreneurship is like in the real world: the need to take conceptually-sound decisions amidst uncertainty, challenging deadlines, and often conflicting input. As such, students are supported in their learning rather than didactically ‘taught’.

Student activities will involve:

Various preparation activities in TB1, including submitting a CV, meeting teammates, matching teams to problems.

During TB2 students will be expected to carry out 10-15 hours a week of work outside of the classroom, in addition to assessment, involving:

  • Conducting a minimum of 10 interviews a week (per team of 4-5 students)
  • Weekly team presentations on progress, including an updated Mission Model Canvas and a discussion of how they have applied the online lessons to their project
  • Weekly team blog updates that include:
    • New hypotheses and ways to evaluate them
    • Interviews, lessons learned and next steps
    • Ideas for potential solutions and ways to test them
  • Maintain weekly contact with the government problem sponsor

Each team will make a final presentation to the class, the problem sponsors and various others at the end of TB2.

Assessment Information

Tasks which help you learn and prepare you for summative tasks (formative):

  • Weekly progress presentations
  • Preparing a weekly iteration of the Mission Model Canvas, including the final Mission Model Canvas
  • Weekly team blog

Tasks which count towards your unit mark (summative):

1) A team portfolio which records and demonstrates progress against the challenge brief. 5,000 words (60% of total unit mark).

The Team Portfolio brings together the work your team has done over the course of the module. For example, it includes an analysis of your weekly Mission Model Canvases and the Team Blog. The portfolio will be assessed, and then each student will receive that mark as weighted by their contribution to the team’s work over the course of the term.

At the start of the project, students will agree roles within the team and allocate tasks. An ‘equity share’ agreement is reached within the team to determine how to distribute assessment marks based on the agreed contribution of each member. Marks for the group presentation and group report are then allocated to individuals in proportion to the group’s agreed equity share (ILO 1,2,3,4,5).

2) Individual reflective essay (2000 words, 40% of total unit mark) (ILO 2,4,5)

The individual essay asks you to reflect critically on the progress your team made towards a solution to the challenge, and on your contribution towards it.

When assessment does not go to plan

In the event that a student fails either assessment, and the exam board determines that another attempt is permitted, second attempts at assessment will normally be as follows unless varied by the Faculty Board of Examiners.

Note that when a unit is passed by reassessment, in the absence of extenuating circumstances, the unit mark will be capped at the passmark.

If the whole team is required to re-do the assessment, the team will be required to re-work and re-submit the original assessment.

If an individual student (or individual students) is (are) required to re-do the assessment, the students(s) will be required to create a new personal portfolio, drawing on the team-work conducted for the first submission. This must necessarily draw on similar evidence presented in the original submission, but the linking narrative must be the students’ own sole authored work.

Essay: A further attempt at the individual essay assessment will comprise a second essay that reflects critically on the progress your team made towards a solution to the challenge, and on your contribution towards it. This can be a rewrite of the original submission, taking into account and reflecting on the feedback on the first submission.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. INOV30005).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.