MRes/PGDip/PGCert Health and Social Care / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Foundations of Research

Course unit fact file
Unit code NURS60014
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Variable teaching patterns
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit examines the theoretical, philosophical and methodological foundations of social work, health and social care research, examining their ethical and practical implications. The unit covers key concepts, debates and theoretical/philosophical perspectives that underpin differing research approaches, examining some of these in depth. In addition, the unit includes a critical examination of research ethics, governance and also political frameworks relevant to health and social care. The principles and practicalities of promoting user involvement in research are covered, as well as debates about the impact and dissemination of research. The unit uses a blended learning approach, combining online teaching & study with face-to-face sessions.


  • Provide students with an in-depth understanding of the relationship between epistemological and methodological issues in social work, health and social care research, in order to enable them to contribute to methodological, political, social and moral debate about the contested nature, scope and purpose of research within health and social care contexts.
  • Enable students to begin to develop a practical understanding of key elements in the research process including ethical scrutiny, literature review, data collection methods and dissemination approaches in health and social care.
  • Provide students with knowledge and skills to enable the application of good research practice to social work, health and social care settings.

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching and learning for this unit takes place over one semester. It uses blended learning methods, a combination of e-learning via Blackboard and face-to-face teaching. Methods used include: lectures, class seminars and exercises.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Critically examine a range of theoretical and philosophical perspectives underpinning differing research approaches within health and social care contexts including those underpinning the evaluation of intervention
  • Critically evaluate relationships between knowledge, power and policy and practice with reference to the social, political and institutional contexts of health and social care research
  • Articulate the principles and processes of research ethics, governance and other research-relevant legal frameworks in health and social care settings
  • Critically evaluate methods and practicalities of promoting user involvement in health and social care research

Intellectual skills

  • Critically examine their own epistemological and ontological assumptions
  • Critically examine the relationship between epistemological frameworks and debates, and the range of research approaches
  • Recognise and critically appraise underlying theoretical assumptions in published research
  • Critically evaluate a range of research methods and their links to associated methodological traditions

Practical skills

  • Set up and utilise an electronic reference manager
  • Identify and locate relevant documents and processes pertinent to applications for ethical approval and research governance in health and social care research
  • Identify practical strategies to promote user involvement in research 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critically reflect on their own academic performance and utilise a range of strategies to improve these and overcome any particular difficulties.
  • Further develop and enhance skills in effective communication to a range of audiences in a variety of settings.
  • Demonstrate skills in working collegiately and effectively with others as a member of a team
  • Effectively utilise information technology/health or social care informatics
  • Utilise skills in systematic and creative approaches to problem-solving and decision-making in relation to complex issues

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Individualised feedback on summative assessments will highlight achievements in students work and areas for further improvement and development related to the assessed topic and general study skills.

Recommended reading

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Project supervision 20
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 108

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stephen Hicks Unit coordinator

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