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Unit information: Research Methods in 2015/16

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Unit name Research Methods
Unit code PHEDM4011
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Sebire
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This course introduces basic principles of research methods and various research designs. Essential scientific themes addressed include basic statistics, epidemiology research, quantitative research, qualitative research, concepts of validity, reliability, measurement and research ethics. Students are also guided on how to read and critique peer-reviewed published research articles. This course also introduces the student to research designs, evaluation and reporting of scientific research. Applications are presented to guide the student toward their own scientific investigation. Applications of appropriate statistical and qualitative analyses to various research designs are also explored. The content is directly relevant to a career in public health, health promotion, research and/or academia.


  • To introduce students to fundamental concepts in research design, data collection, analysis and reporting of results, from quantitative and qualitative research perspectives.
  • To develop students' study skills, including critical analysis, literature searching and referencing.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Illustrate an understanding of basic statistical terms and concepts, and compare and contrast the research-related concepts and methods used in the fields of physical activity and nutrition.
  2. Distinguish features of epidemiology research, quantitative research, qualitative research, validity, and reliability.
  3. Evaluate the necessity of adhering to research ethics, and examine ethical considerations applicable to physical activity and nutrition research.
  4. Interpret and critically appraise quantitative and qualitative research papers identified from the physical activity and nutrition literature.

Teaching Information

The main teaching method is face-to-face lectures plus small group learning activities. Teaching takes place across four 1-day visits across 4 weeks equivalent to ~ 5 hours of taught time per day.

Assessment Information

Assessment is through the completion of one written 4000 word assignment that comprises(a) three brief essays critically appraising three scientific papers covering qualitative, quantitative and epidemiological research designs and (b) design of an original piece of research which articulates an alternative methodological means of answering the research questions outlined in one of the three papers in part A. The assignment is directly related to the learning outcomes and students are required to show an in-depth understanding of the unit at a level consistent with a Master’s degree.

Reading and References

  • Thomas, J.R., Nelson, J.K, and Silverman, S. (2005). Research Methods in Physical Activity. 5th Edition. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.
  • Bonita, R., Beaglehole, R., and Kjellström, T. (2006). Basic Epidemiology. 2nd Edition. Switzerland: WHO Press.
  • Dishman, R.K., Health, G., and Washburn, R.A. (2004). Physical Activity Epidemiology. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.
  • Field, A. (2010). Discovering Statistics Using SPSS. 3rd Edition. London: Sage Publications.
  • Brace, N., Kemp, R., and Snelgar, R. (2006). SPSS for Psychologists. 3rd Edition. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.