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Unit information: Introduction to Research in Health Sciences in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Introduction to Research in Health Sciences
Unit code SOCS30006
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Professor. Whittington
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit will introduce general research principles and experimental design to the students so as to provide a foundation for their studies and research dissertation. The teaching sessions will provide preliminary training in the following practical and transferable skills: finding research information by using the library and internet; reading, interpreting and presenting research results; scientific writing and referencing; research design and statistical analysis; clinical research methods and statistics. The unit will also introduce students to topics that relate to ethics in research; public engagement and patient involvement; and research commercialisation.

These sessions are reinforced by tutorials that review the taught material and provide an opportunity for the discussion of selected relevant research papers. This helps the students to understand the process of planning a piece of research.

The unit aims to: (i) Provide students with the skills to find research information and read scientific literature. (ii) Provide students with the fundamental knowledge of experimental design; presenting research results and scientific writing. (iii) Introduce some key core principles of statistical analysis and interpretation to prepare students for the research project unit. (iv) Provide students with basic knowledge on the ethics of medical research, public engagement and commercialising research. (v) Foster individual and team-working, demonstrating organisation, decision-making and time management.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit the student should be able to: (i) Find, review and begin to appraise scientific literature. (ii) Accurately interpret simple statistical analysis of research data and draw appropriate conclusions. (iii) Describe the principles of research ethics. (iv) Describe a piece of scientific research in language suitable for the lay person reader.

Teaching details

This unit is taught through lectures, tutorials and group project presentations.

Assessment Details

In this unit students will be assessed in the following ways: (i) A one-hour open book data interpretation and critical analysis exercise at the end of the unit (in Oct/Nov) (contributes to 50% of the unit mark). (ii) A group project/presentation on current ethical issues in medical research (contributes to 25% of the unit mark). (iii) A short essay or news article item (500 words) (contributes to 25% of the unit mark).

The data handling exercise will cover learning outcomes (i)-(ii); the group project will cover learning outcome (iii) and the short essay with cover learning outcome (iv). Please note that students will be given formative feedback on all coursework assessment where appropriate. Peer marking will be utilised on selected coursework where appropriate (e.g. group project).

Reading and References

Selected relevant review papers from the literature. Kirkwood BR & Sterne JAC (2003). Essential Medical Statistics. Second Edition. Blackwell Science