Continuing Professional Development

Research design and critical appraisal skills


The details
Research design and critical appraisal skills
15 credits
Level 7
19 January 2022
Colchester Campus

To scrutinise the knowledge that informs evidence based practice, health and social care professionals need to be critical thinkers who are research-literate.

This module provides you with an advanced understanding of research study design, how to assess the quality of research and discuss the robustness of conclusions reached. It combines theoretical and practical approaches to enable you to search for, obtain, and understand research literature and the critical skills to analyse and synthesise the material into a literature review.

The class usually contains a mix of students on different programmes, including health and social care professionals as well as research students, creating a vibrant learning environment in which students learn from the range of experience in the room.

This module can be studied as a standalone unit or as part of the modular pathway for Healthcare Practice at PG Certificate, PG Diploma or Masters level.  The module also fits well within our MA Professional Practice pathway or MSc Medical and Clinical Education pathway.

Learning outcomes

After the module you will:

  • have an advanced understanding of the range of research methods that are in common use in your discipline
  • be able to conduct and report a rigorous and advanced search for research literature
  • critically appraise research papers and construct a literature review
  • apply research findings, including literature reviews, within your working practice

Our expert staff

This module is taught by Dr Caroline Barratt, who has over six years’ experience of developing and delivering research teaching for CPD students in health and social care.

Caroline is aware of the lack of confidence that CPD students often feel in conjunction with research and as such tries to create a relaxed learning environment in which the experience of students is valued and learning is made relevant to professional practice.

What our participants say

‘When I started this course I was apprehensive about research. Now that I have completed the module I feel confident and now read research results in a different way.'

‘I’ve enjoyed the topic and the group made it even more stimulating.’


Module Outline

The module uses lectures and computer lab sessions supported by self-study formative tasks that develop your own literature review project. Group discussion and activities feature strongly in the module teaching to support your learning through practical engagement with research. Further resources and guidance are available through Moodle.

The module covers the following themes:

  • principles of research and research methods
  • critical appraisal and reviewing research literature
  • credibility, responsibility and ethics.
  • Teaching and learning disclaimer

    Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

    The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Assessment strategy

  • 100% coursework
  • 3,000 word literature review using a research question of your choice

Fees and funding

Our CPD Funding page has more information on fees for our modules and potential funding sources.

What's next

We have guidance on making your application and the forms to download on our how to apply page.

Get in touch

If you require further details about this module, including future course dates, please email