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Unit information: Practical Research Methods in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

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


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 details

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

Assessment Details

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.


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