Theory and Method in Health Research

The details
Health and Social Care (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Tuesday 08 October 2019
Tuesday 10 December 2019
05 April 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MSC B99012 Health Research,
MSC B990MO Health Research,
MA B99112 Health and Organisational Research,
DOCTB90448 Health Care Education,
DOCTB90048 Health Service Management,
DOCTB74048 Nursing,
DOCTB93048 Occupational Therapy,
DOCTB71248 Public Health (Health Visiting),
DOCTL59248 Social Care Education,
DOCTL59048 Social Services Management,
DOCTB62048 Speech and Language Therapy

Module description

Applied health and social care research is underpinned by a variety of theoretical assumptions. This module provides opportunities to critically examine some key philosophical ideas that inform research, using a blended learning approach to extend knowledge and current understanding of the research process

Module aims

How knowledge is viewed determines ways of thinking about the research process. It is important to understand the interrelationships between key elements of the research process to allow the logical combination of ontology and epistemology as part of a robust research process. This module provides opportunities to examine key theoretical/philosophical ideas and explore how they can be applied to inform present and future research projects and better understand the foundations of scholarly work.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the [learner] will be able to:

Select and justify a research perspective and methodology for a given research topic and be able to select scholarly sources to inform and support argumentation

Identify and discuss some key philosophical/theoretical assumptions that inform
different approaches and methods in health research

Critically consider how different approaches produce different types of knowledge and evidence and the implications of this

Compare and contrast some key philosophical/theoretical ideas and consider
strengths and weaknesses of different approaches

Module information

This module will explore methods (research techniques/procedures); methodology (research strategy that links method to desired outcome); theoretical perspectives (philosophical position that informs methodology and provides context) and epistemology and ontology (what constitutes valid knowledge/how it is obtained and what constitutes reality/how existence is understood). A blended learning approach uses multiple methods to deliver learning by combining face-to-face interactions with online activities – to provide opportunities to develop and consolidate existing knowledge and understanding about the philosophical foundations of the research process.

Applied health and social care research Is informed by different theoretical approaches; each comes with implicit/explicit assumptions about how research will generate new knowledge. Research requires both theory and methods – it is therefore important to understand how they are related and informed by (philosophical) assumptions about the world, how it operates and how we can claim to know this. A blended learning approach - with peer support - provides opportunities to become a more reflexive researcher and develop existing knowledge and critical awareness of key philosophical ideas that underpin the research process.

Learning and teaching methods

This module is taught using a blended learning approach. Five taught seminars are supplemented by e-learning and Moodle resources.


  • Dyson, Simon; Brown, Brian. (2006) Social theory and applied health research, Maidenhead: Open University Press. vol. Understanding social research
  • Grix, Jonathan. (2019) Foundations of research, London: Red Globe Press.
  • Nigel Warburton. (2012) Philosophy, New York: Routledge.
  • Deary, Vincent. (2005) 'Explaining the unexplained? Overcoming the distortions of a dualist understanding of medically unexplained illness', in Journal of Mental Health. vol. 14 (3) , pp.213-221
  • David L. Sackett, William M. C. Rosenberg, J. A. Muir Gray, R. Brian Haynes and W. Scott Richardson. (7023) 'Evidence Based Medicine: What It Is And What It Isn't: It's About Integrating Individual Clinical Expertise And The Best External Evidence Authors:', in BMJ: British Medical Journal: BMJ. vol. 312, pp.71-72
  • Trisha Greenhalgh; Jeremy Howick; Neal Maskrey. (2014) 'Evidence based medicine: a movement in crisis?', in BMJ. vol. 348, pp.3725-3732

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   3,000 word assignment    100% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mrs Jennie Todd, email: jtodd@essex.ac.uk.
Jennie Todd
Jennie Todd E: jtodd@essex.ac.uk Jade D'Mello Senior Student Administrator Email: jedmel@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Nicola Clarke
Birmingham City University
Senior Lecturer/Professional Navigator/Academic Advisor/Seda Accredited Doctoral
Available via Moodle
Of 15 hours, 15 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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