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Unit information: Critical appraisal for Health and Wellbeing in 2018/19

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Unit name Critical appraisal for Health and Wellbeing
Unit code SPOLM0052
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Lucas
Open unit status Not open




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


Aims – This course aims to introduce students to the breadth of research in health and wellbeing, and to enable them to critically appraise a range of study methodologies.

The objectives are

To introduce students to the range of research undertaken in the field

To introduce students to the principles and practice of critical appraisal

To discuss research papers, their methods and findings

Intended learning outcomes

At the completion of this course students will be able to

  1. recognise a range of research designs,
  2. Identify and apply appropriate critical appraisal tools (CAT)
  3. Identify appropriate reporting guidelines for healthcare studies
  4. locate relevant research studies
  5. describe a range of study methods and findings
  6. appraise study quality, and lead and contribute to debates about research methods
  7. present summaries of research
  8. reflect on the process of critical appraisal, and consider the strengths and weaknesses of CAT

Teaching details

This unit will be taught in monthly reading groups across TB1 and TB2. Staff will attend 10 of these sessions, the remainder will be student led and facilitated.

Formative assessment will be submitted in week 17, and summative in the summer assessment period.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment (Pass/fail): Select and lead student discussion of an appropriate research paper.

Summative assessment: A portfolio of structured summaries of research papers, to include use of published Critical Appraisal Tools (CATs). Any research papers published in peer-reviewed journals which address human health and wellbeing, using any research method are eligible for inclusion.

In total the portfolio should be to a maximum of 4,000 words (excluding the critical appraisal tools themselves).

The assessment for the unit is not a traditional essay, responding to the focus on application of skills above subject knowledge. The maximum length of the assignment is therefore longer, reflecting the limited reading required and the typical length of completed critical appraisal tools. The assessment will meet all the learning outcomes.

Reading and References

Liz Trinder; Shirley Reynolds (Eds) (2000) Evidence-based practice a critical appraisal. Oxford : Blackwell Science , 2000

Narinder Kaur Gosal (2015) The Doctor's Guide To Critical Appraisal. Knutsford, Pastest. Fourth Edition.

Kuper, Lingard, Levinson (2008) Critically appraising qualitative research. BMJ 2008;337:a1035

Thorne (2017) Metasynthetic Madness: What Kind of Monster Have We Created? Qualitative Health Research 2017, Vol. 27(1) 3–12

Mays & Pope Qualitative research in health care Assessing quality in qualitative research BMJ 2000;320:50–2

Carroll & Booth Quality assessment of qualitative 'evidence for systematic review and synthesis: Is it meaningful, and if so, how should it be performed? 'Res. Syn. Meth. 2015, 6 149–154

Creswell & Miller. Determining Validity in Qualitative Inquiry. THEORY INTO PRACTICE, Volume 39, Number 3, Summer 2000

Jeanfreau & Jack . Appraising Qualitative Research in Health Education: Guidelines for Public Health Educators Health Promot Pract. 2010 September ; 11(5): 612–617. doi:10.1177/1524839910363537

Petticrew, Roberts (2006) Systematic reviews in the social sciences a practical guide. Oxford : Blackwell

Cochrane Handbooks

BMJ How to read a paper series

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme

Enhancing the quality of healthcare reporting