MPharm Pharmacy with a Foundation Year

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Integrated Research Skills: preparation for 4th year projects and evidence-based practice

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHAR30400
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit is designed to teach students the necessary skills to be able to successfully complete their 4th year projects and to become evidence-based practitioners upon graduation. It provides students with the opportunity to develop some research skills used both in pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical sciences research. It allows students to apply some of these skills by conducting an audit in a community pharmacy and by undertaking an experiment in a laboratory.

In addition, the unit introduces students to critical appraisal, where they will learn how to systematically examine research to judge its trustworthiness, value and relevance. Finally, it teaches students how to identify and apply research evidence to a clinical situation.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
PHAR10100 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
PHAR10200 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
PHAR10300 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
PHAR10400 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
PHAR20100 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
PHAR20200 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
PHAR20300 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
PHAR20400 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
PHAR10500 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
PHAR20500 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


This unit aims to:

  • help students to develop key research skills including: design of data collection tools; designing and conducting research ethically; literature searching and referencing; critical appraisal of research literature; academic writing; analysis and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data
  • develop students’ understanding of how clinical governance systems work in relation to audit, research methodology and research ethics
  • consolidate practical laboratory skills developed in earlier units with an emphasis on identifying sources of error associated with the use of different analytical techniques to test hypotheses
  • allow students to gain first-hand practical experience of critical appraisal of research papers and knowledge of study design to help prepare them for what is involved in 4th year projects
  • provide students with skills to be able to apply research evidence in practice.



Learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to do the following.

Understand the design and conduct of a research project:

  • understand how aims and objectives are formulated
  • understand the research methods used in pharmacy research and their application to different research questions
  • describe the difference between qualitative and quantitative approaches
  • understand the differences and similarities between research, evaluation and audit
  • describe ethical and governance issues related to undertaking pharmacy practice research in line with the principles of Good Clinical Practice (GCP).

Apply their knowledge of quantitative research methods to undertake an audit in community pharmacy by:

  • collecting data from pharmacy customers according to the principals of GCP
  • understanding and applying simple statistical tests to data and interpreting the results of simple statistical analyses.

Apply their knowledge of qualitative research methods to:

  • develop an interview topic guide
  • conduct and transcribe a qualitative interview
  • undertake a simple thematic analysis of qualitative data.

Critically appraise research literature by:

  • searching library and internet databases
  • referring to sources; formatting references
  • being able to decipher crucial points in scientific articles and critically evaluating research evidence of the standard required for a fourth year MPharm project.

Recognize the potential of using alternative experimental approaches to answer the same or similar scientific questions.

Understand how research evidence can be used to review current practice, provide medicines information, support safe and effective use of medicines, and improve health outcomes.

Assessment methods

To pass this unit, students will need to obtain a minimum combined mark of 40% across all graded components of assessment and pass all pass / fail components.

Semester 1:

  • Audit report: 40% (ILO-1, ILO-2) – 8 credits
  • Good Clinical Practice: Pass / Fail (ILO-1) – 0 credits

Semester 2:

  • Lab practical: 10% (ILO-5) – 2 credits
  • Case study short answer questions: 10%* (ILO-6) – 2 credits
  • Critical writing – 1000 word critique: 40% (ILO-4) – 8 credits

*The case study assessment is peer assessed using Adaptive Comparative Judgement (ACJ). Each student will be asked to rank a selection of their peers’ work and provide feedback. Failure to review all the assigned scripts and provide feedback will incur a penalty.

Feedback methods

Students receive formative feedback during all lectures and workshops, both via interactive technology and in question and answer sessions.

  • Semester 1: students will receive online formative feedback on assessed audit report.
  • Semester 2: formative feedback on how to prepare case study coursework; feedback on completed case study from peer review; formative feedback on a draft of critical writing coursework; online feedback on assessed critique.

Recommended reading

Smith FJ. Conducting Your Pharmacy Practice Research Project: A step-by-step approach (2nd edition) Pharmaceutical Press, London 2010

Austin Z, Sutton J. Research Methods in Pharmacy Practice: Methods and applications made easy. Elsevier, Amsterdam 2018

Greenhalgh T.  Getting your bearings (deciding what the paper is about) BMJ 1997; 315: 243-246

Greenhalgh T.  Assessing the methodological quality of published papers BMJ 1997; 315: 305-308

Both above papers also included in Greenhalgh T.  How to Read a Paper- the basics of evidence-based medicine (2nd edition). BMJ Books, London 2001

Pallant J. SPSS survival manual: A step by step guide to data anlysis using IBM SPSS (6th ed.). Open University Press, McGraw-Hill, Maidenhead 2016

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 12
Practical classes & workshops 30
Tutorials 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 154

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sally Jacobs Unit coordinator
Constantinos Demonacos Unit coordinator

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