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Unit information: Statistics & Research Methods in 2020/21

Unit name Statistics & Research Methods
Unit code MEDIM4003
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Harris
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


  • To describe key features of study design and be able to formulate hypotheses and design effective studies to address common research questions
  • To describe the core statistical concepts necessary to be able to accurately interpret and present basic statistical analyses
  • To be able to review and critically appraise the scientific literature
  • To describe the important ethical elements of scientific and medical research

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  • interpret numerical and graphical summaries of data
  • understand the nature of sampling variation and the role of statistical inference in helping to quantify sampling variation draw conclusions from data.
  • accurately interpret the results of analyses based on the principles of hypothesis testing (p-values) and estimation (confidence intervals).
  • interpret the results from common regression models.
  • devise research questions and design effective studies/experiments
  • offer a critical appraisal of the research methods elements of published scientific and clinical studies

Teaching details

  • Lectures/seminars
  • Synchronous discussion sessions
  • Self-directed study
  • Asynchronous discussion forums

Assessment Details

Coursework (contributing a total of 60% to the Unit):

(i) Write a short scientific report. This will assess your ability to select and present appropriate statistical analyses, accurately interpret results and draw sensible conclusions (35%).

(ii) Interpret and appraise a scientific paper (25%)

End of unit assessment (40%):

A timed, open book end of unit written assessment.

Reading and References

Students may find the following books useful accompaniments:

  1. Diggle P, Chetwynd A. 2011. Statistics and Scientific Method: An introduction for students and researchers. OUP.
  2. Kirkwood BR & Sterne JAC. 2003. Essential Medical Statistics. Second Edition. Blackwell Science.
  3. Motulsky H. 2014. Intuitive Biostatistics. New York: OUP.
  4. OpenIntro Statistics. 2nd Edition. (
  5. Petrie A, Sabin C. 2009. Medical Statistics at a glance. 3rd edition. Wiley-Blackwell.
  6. Webb P & Bain C. Essential Epidemiology: An introduction for students and health professionals. Cambridge.