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Unit information: Practical Research Methods in 2021/22

Unit name Practical Research Methods
Unit code PHEDM0003
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Joey Murphy
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will teach students the knowledge and skills needed to develop relevant research questions for addressing a current public physical or mental health problem. Students will acquire an understanding of the application and analysis of quantitative and qualitative methodology needed to create research proposals and to answer research questions. This unit will incorporate and build upon the knowledge and skills acquired in all earlier units.

Aim: To evaluate and synthesise key elements of research designs, aligning questions with appropriate methods, and practicing application of practical tools to assess qualitative and quantitative methodology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. How to formulate research questions and a rationale in response to a current public health problem and to evaluate critically the range of methodologies available to address the questions.
  2. Ability to critically evaluate, apply skills and use relevant analyses and software to answer research questions and analyse data with either quantitative or qualitative research methodology.

Teaching Information

The unit will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of lectures, group discussion and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

Summative assessment will be in two parts aligned with the learning outcomes. Students will: 1. be required to formulate a research question, write a rationale to justify the question and identify a relevant methodology to address the question. Students need to include a brief debate regarding qualitative and quantitative approaches when discussing methodology choices. This will be a 2000 word written essay section. AND 2. Practical assessment - This will be a 2000 word equivalent section and students have a choice of one of two options (complete either a OR b). a. Practical quantitative assessment - students will be provided a quantitative data set, and required to answer brief questions using the SPSS statistical package to test assumptions and provide preliminary results from the data in tabular form. OR b. Practical qualitative assessment - students will be provided with anonymous interview transcripts to interpret and identify themes, incorporating the use of Nvivo as an analysis tool.


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. PHEDM0003).

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.