Postgraduate Research Methods (Distance Learning)

The details
Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 27 June 2025
05 October 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

DIP B16EMO Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging,
MSC B16EMO Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging,
DIP B164MO Musculoskeletal Practice,
MSC B164MO Musculoskeletal Practice,
DIP B166MO Advanced Musculoskeletal Assessment and Practice (Hand Therapy),
MSC B166MO Advanced Musculoskeletal Assessment and Practice (Hand Therapy),
DIP B1E6MO International Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging,
MSC B1E6MO International Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging,
DPT B16060 Physiotherapy,
DSESC60260 Sport and Exercise Science,
DST C60560 Sports Therapy,
DSPCC60760 Sport Performance and Coaching

Module description

In this module you will explore theoretical and practical issues in relation to the research process, with specific emphasis on research in the musculoskeletal specialism. You will develop the ability to understand and use relevant research literature, and acquire the skills you need to plan and carry out your own research. A defining feature of the module is that the research principles that are encountered will constantly be applied to real musculoskeletal clinical settings.

The majority of the resources you will need, and the learning activities you will undertake will be delivered online via 'Moodle'; this is essentially a way of providing a structured set of web pages, associated resources and tools for discussion - see the separate Student Guide to Using Moodle that you have been provided with for full details.

As most students are in full-time employment and located some distance to the university, this module enables remote study using e-learning technology, (Moodle). For your study on this module you will be drawing on printed material, a variety of web resources including video clips, and data analysis software. You will also engage in on line discussions with fellow students.

For each topic, you will be asked to discuss your thoughts on specific issues with the other students. In addition to the on line discussions, you will be asked to complete some activities individually in your 'workbooks'.

Module aims

This module will help you to develop rigorous critical appraisal skills to support research in musculoskeletal medicine. You will be required to apply a rich understanding of research in order to develop data collection tools and undertake data analysis.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student will be able to:

1. Explain, critically appraise and evaluate a range of research methods that are commonly used in musculoskeletal research and apply these to your professional discipline, and evaluate the impact of using research to support policy and practice.
2. Synthesise a body of evidence: integrating an assessment of quality with an appraisal of findings; drawing detailed, nuanced, well considered conclusions; and applying research findings to specific contextual issues for evidence based practice within your own professional discipline.
3. Design appropriate research tools developing existing strategies and frameworks to collect qualitative and quantitative data and effectively utilise software to carry out either quantitative data or qualitative data analysis.
4. Design a simple research study defining your research question and choosing appropriate methods and study groups, which is compliant to appropriate ethical standards and governance requirements.
5. Effectively utilise software to carry out either quantitative data or qualitative data analysis, justifying decisions and creating appropriate output/frameworks and generating conclusions commensurate with the data.
6. Present work in a professional manner, competently expressed and edited and using language appropriate to the musculoskeletal professional discipline and required ethical standards. Use appropriate citation and referencing protocols ensuring that evidence presented is proportionate to the strength of claims made.

Module information


Teaching & learning support for the Module
Literature searching
Research and Practice in the NHS
Hierarchy of Research
Quantitative, Qualitative and Mixed Methods Theory & Methodologies
Quantitative & Qualitative Techniques
Meta-Analysis and Systematic Reviews
Critical Appraisal Skills, Tools and Frameworks
Literature review methodology
Synthesis and application of research findings
Critical Appraisal of selected literature

The module is organised into four topics,
1. Key Aspects in Research in Practice (5 weeks)
2. Critical Appraisal. (5 weeks)
3. Collecting Quantitative and Qualitative data. (4 weeks)
4. Analysing Qualitative and Quantitative data (6 weeks)

Each topic has a set of learning outcomes to help you focus your reading
Topic 1: Evidence Based Practice and Research Basics
To understand the connection between research and practice in musculoskeletal medicine
To evaluate the range of ethical issues associated with research in practice settings
To acquire insight into the role of service users in research
To obtain a critical understanding of the hierarchy of research and the problems associated with it
To understand the difference between quantitative research and qualitative research and their epistemological underpinnings
To understand how quantitative and qualitative research can be combined into a mixed methods study

Topic 2: Critical Appraisal
To be able to describe the principles of critical appraisal
To understand the purpose of critical appraisal
To be able to critically evaluate qualitative and quantitative research, in terms of validity and reliability
To be able to conduct a structured, systematic search of the literature

Topic 3: Collecting Data for Quantitative and Qualitative Research
To understand how to construct and use questionnaires
To know how to plan and carry out interviews (including focus groups)

Topic 4: Analysing Qualitative and Quantitative Data
To know how to analyse qualitative data using qualitative data analysis software
To know how to undertake quantitative data analysis using SPSS and to understand how to interpret SPSS output

Learning and teaching methods

Teaching strategies will include: This module is delivered by e-learning (Moodle directed learning supported by optional Zoom meetings). Students are expected to dedicate the equivalent of one day a week in time to this module. Monitoring of on-line discussion forums by the module lead will take place each week. This module provides the opportunity to develop on line learning skills in a supported environment, as it is recognised that students are not equally fluent in using social media and online research methods. E-learning is more than just creating a repository of materials for easy access, creating a site for learning or simply using technology to process information. Rather e-learning embraces a social dimension, new developments in learning theory and a new set of practical skills. Values and theories underpinning the development of this module are drawn from a combined theory of 'multi-modalities' and a 'discourse view of learning' developed by Haythornethwaite & Andrews (2011). The module material is provided through an on line learning platform utilising a variety of on line teaching and learning methods to suit a range of student knowledge and competencies in both research and on line learning. The initial activities will be highly structured thus supporting confidence and competence in using on line media, with increasing opportunities for you to manage, contribute and structure your engagement with the materials as the module progresses.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   October 23 Cohort - Assignment 1: Workbook - Summative Submission    50% 
Coursework   October 23 Cohort - Assignment 2: Mixed Methods Research Proposal and Data Collection & Analysis - Summative Submission    50% 
Coursework   February 23 Cohort - Assessment 1: Workbook - Summative Submission     
Coursework   February 23 Cohort - Assessment 2: Data Collection & Analysis - Summative Submission     

Additional coursework information

There are two assignments for this 30 credit module. The first is a workbook of tasks breaking down a literature review into its composite steps. The second requires the creation of a data collection tool and to undertake data analysis using the relevant software. Both assessment components must be passed in order to pass the module.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Sue Innes, email:
Dr Sue Innes



External examiner

Mr Myles Butler
Sheffield Hallam University
Senior Lecturer Team Lead
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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