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Unit information: Enquiry in Healthcare Management in 2020/21

Unit name Enquiry in Healthcare Management
Unit code ORDSM0038
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Robinson
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


Healthcare management requires the ability to identify needs and evaluate health services in terms of their processes, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, appropriateness, acceptability and accessibility. These types of enquiries involve detailed understanding of a broad spectrum of approaches. Biomedical research has traditionally adopted a positivist approach assuming objective facts that can be quantified. More relativist traditions recognise a multiplicity of perspectives that can be invaluable, for example when attempting to satisfy patients. Some of these approaches attempt to weave enquiry into finding solutions for immediate problems to improve the way future problems are solved.

This unit will engage the expertise across the Faculties of Health Sciences and Social Sciences and Law to embrace all these traditions and methods in relation to enquiry in healthcare management.

The aim of this unit will be to:

1. Provide students with a detailed understanding of the rationale for and philosophy of enquiry in healthcare management;

2. Provide students with a detailed understanding of the methods involved in enquiry in healthcare management, including planning, designing and conducting enquiry within the positivist and relativist traditions. It will link specific methods to their traditions so that they can make informed strategic choices and select methods for enquiry in healthcare management.

Intended learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a comprehensive and advanced knowledge and understanding (including relevant theoretical models/frameworks) of enquiry in healthcare management;
  2. Develop appropriate research skills through case study, surveys, interviews, data collection and analysis in healthcare management;
  3. Engage insightfully with a range of information sources and develop conceptual, analytical and empirical skills to support evidence-based decision-making;
  4. Develop practical skills for data analysis and evidence-based decision-making using healthcare management research, tools and techniques in particular by critically reviewing information reliability, validity and significance;
  5. Demonstrate the ability to plan, select and coordinate resources/materials (e.g. literature, reports, legislation) for a specific task in line with higher level strategic decision making;
  6. Communicate, debate and synthesise ideas, analyses, results, conclusions associated with healthcare management issues concisely in written form and report preparation.

Teaching details

Much of the learning for this unit will involve individual study in directed self-learning. Consultation with potential students has identified a need for this learning to be highly structured. The learning will be divided into topics, each comprising an online introduction and recommended reading available online via Blackboard. In particular, the Executive Model lends itself to flipped classrooms.

Technology-enabled communication (Skype, email) will enable students to maintain contact with staff and their peers. Learning groups will be created to support integration and an online community will also be developed to support student interaction.

Face to face learning will involve a combination of formal lectures, flipped learning style sessions and tutorials involving in-class discussion. More emphasis will be placed on research, case studies and other problem-solving activities. Some sessions may be hosted by guest lecturers from other healthcare organisations academic institutions.

Students will be expected and directed to read from a range of sources including the core texts and academic journals. Students will interact and communicate within group activities enhancing practical leadership skills, including team, negotiating and influencing skills. They will work autonomously as well as interactively within group exercises.

The unit structure offers 18 contact hours in total. The remaining 182 learning hours will be spent in independent study and in the preparation of assessment.

Assessment Details

Formative Assessment will involve an online open-book test comprising short answers and closed questions (MCQ etc), across the range of material covered in the unit. It will take place shortly after the face to face teaching for the unit. (ILOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)

Summative assessment will involve a 3,500 word proposal for an enquiry-based project. The subject of the proposal can be selected by the student but will be agreed with the Unit Director. The proposal will require a brief rationale for the project, specific aims and objectives and a plan for its design and conduct, including data collection and analysis. (ILOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Reading and References

Students will be expected to read extensively around their enquiry in healthcare management to inform their knowledge. Students should draw from a range of sources which may include academic texts and papers, practitioner books and journals, market reports and online sources.

Core Texts for this Unit:

Bowling, A. Research Methods in Health: Investigating Health And Health Services (2014). 4th Edition. Open University Press

Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2015) Business Research Methods, 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press [ISBN: 9780199668649].


Medline and Web of Science are online comprehensive searchable databases of healthcare research available through the University of Bristol library

Recommended Reading:

Each session and topic will have a number of recommended journal articles to read