Continuing Professional Development

Theory and Method in Health Research


The details
Theory and Method in Health Research
15 credits
Level 7
12 October 2021
Colchester Campus

Applied health and social care research is informed by different theoretical (philosophical) approaches; each comes with implicit/explicit assumptions about how research will generate new knowledge.

As a health or social care professional interested in research or a research student, it is important for you to understand how theory and method are related and underpinned by these assumptions about the world, how it operates and how we can claim to know this.

Learning outcomes

After the module you 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
  • be able to 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

Accreditation and professional recognition

Mapping to Programme Outcomes is dependent on Programme of study

Mapping to Regulatory Body Standards: N/A

Our expert staff

This module has been taught by Jennie Todd since 2014; she has been researching and teaching in Higher Education for almost two decades in roles that include senior research officer and research advisor for the East of England NIHR RDS.

What our participants say

"This is a challenging module made real and interesting and incredibly thought provoking by Jennie’s approach and personality” (Prof Doc student 2018/19 cohort comment on SAMT)

Entry Requirements


  • HS945 Research Methods or equivalent research methods course


  • Actively engaged in research planning and design

Additional Comments:

  • Compulsory for Professional Doctorate; MSc Health Research and MA Health & Organisational Research in the School of Health and Social Care.
  • Available for taught postgraduate pathways in health and social care research.


Module Outline

This module takes a blended learning approach - combining self-directed online resources with regular face-to-face teaching consisting of 5 x 3-hour taught sessions (weeks 2; 4; 6; 8; 11) across autumn term.

Curriculum topics include:

  • evidence-based health care
  • research paradigms
  • theory/methods
  • positivism
  • interpretative approaches
  • grounded theory, pragmatism & mixed methods
  • establishing rigour in the research process.

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

Submit a 3000-word essay (100% weighting, 50 pass mark) based on a choice of essay question that allows you to use your own research or a selected piece of research as the basis for the essay. Formative feedback is available.

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