Research Methodologies for Health Care Communication
This module introduces students to four different methodological approaches that can be used to study interpersonal and written communication in health care:
i) Discourse Analysis
ii) Critical Discourse Analysis
iii) Conversation Analysis
iv) Corpus Linguistics.
Students will be introduced to the assumptions and techniques of these kinds of analysis and will be familiarised with examples of the methods in action in research on health care. Differences and similarities between the approaches will be highlighted. Issues around choice of method, choice of method to suit the research question, and the application of findings will be explored. Throughout the module students will experience what work using these different approaches might involve and consider the practical and theoretical issues raised by these activities. Students will also be encouraged to develop a critical appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of each method and the circumstances in which each is most appropriate.
Health Care Narratives (Distance Learning)
This module is intended to familiarise students with theories and applications of narrative in health care contexts. The module will address the following key areas:
i) Narratology: Theories of narrative
ii) Personal narratives of illness
iii) Professional narratives
iv) Organisation and policy narratives
v) Narrative as therapeutic intervention
The module will provide students with an opportunity to examine what narrative is and how this knowledge can be deployed to help understand a variety of phenomena encountered in health care. The module will equip students with a high level knowledge of narrative theory and how much of what takes place in health care exchanges are governed by the kinds of narratives that are used. Students will also develop and practice skills in identifying and analysing narratives of patients, professionals and policy makers. Students will also understand how knowledge of narratives can be used to enhance therapeutic interventions and practices across a range of health care disciplines. Students will appreciate how health care environments, structures and practices are informed by broader, macro-level organisational and governmental narratives.
Health Care Documentation (Distance Learning)
This module introduces students to the study of health care documentation. The term documentation will be defined widely so as to include: Written and electronic records of client care Case conferences, programme planning and care plans Policy documents at national, local and institutional levels Health promotion and education materials.In relation to each of these topics, students will be encouraged to learn about how previous authors have studied these kinds of documentation and critically evaluate the theories and methods employed. Students will, consistent with ethical considerations, be encouraged to collect their own examples for analysis in learning exercises in the module and make use of the materials available in the Nottingham University Health Language Corpus. Learning activities in the module will include a combination of critical analysis of existing research and the students own analysis of health care documentation materials.
The Language of Compliance (Distance Learning)
This module addresses the issue of compliance in healthcare from a communications perspective. It begins by examining the terminology from a sociological perspective, considering to what extent alternative terms such as adherence and concordance represent a paradigm shift in either policy or practice. The remainder of the module is divided into two sections: macro or structural issues affecting compliance, such as age, gender, cultural background and educational level; and micro level or interactional issues, such as the differences in design and receipt between advice, information or instruction.
Discourse Analysis (Distance Learning)
The module looks at various approaches to the study of spoken language. These include structural models based on the work of the Birmingham discourse analysts, as well as more sociolinguistically inspired approaches to conversation analysis and recent developments in spoken corpus linguistics. Each learning unit takes a different kind of discourse and progressively builds up a classification of discourse types or genres. Real spoken data are used throughout, for exemplification and practical analysis tasks. The implications for language pedagogy and other branches of applied linguistics (e.g.applications in other professional contexts) are considered, and students are encouraged to consider these in their own written work if appropriate.
Corpus linguistics provides methods for the study of collections of electronic texts (written texts, including literary texts, material from the internet, transcripts of spoken language, etc.). This module introduces some fundamental corpus methods that include retrieving and interpreting word frequency information, studying patterns of words in the form of concordances, and analysing key words. The module will illustrate methods through case studies.Throughout the module, you will also learn to analyse different types of texts and pursue your own research ideas. For the assessment, you will complete a small-scale corpus project on a topic of your choosing (in consultation with the tutor). This project can function to test and expand upon ideas that have emerged from your previous modules, and/or which could also be further developed for your summer dissertation.
Language and Gender (Distance Learning)
The course will explore the relationship between language and gender in spoken interaction and written texts, drawing on key approaches in the areas of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and pragmatics. The extent to which gender affects the language we produce when interacting with one another in a variety of contexts will be focused on, along with the issue of sexism in language use. Various theoretical paradigms that have been presented to explain language and gender differences will be critically examined, along with gender ideologies which operate in society. Students will be encouraged to combine theoretical thinking with hands-on analyses of data from authentic examples of spoken interaction and from a variety of publications including the popular media. The practical consequences of the discipline in terms of how findings can have a political impact on wider society are also discussed.
This module will explore the use of language in interactions between speakers of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds from three different perspectives: Description, Development, and Assessment. With a growing proportion of interactions in the world today taking place between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, it is important to identify and describe language use which may lead to misunderstanding and communicative breakdown. This module will look at ways in which language barriers might be overcome in such interactions, and at the key factors in this process. We will examine intercultural interactions in a variety of contexts, e.g. business and other professional encounters, the language of the media, the language classroom, etc.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This course page may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.
Teaching methods and assessment
The course content offers a detailed and comprehensive coverage of the main areas of health care communication, with the opportunity to specialise in areas according to your own interests and research.
The course examines the role of language in a comprehensive and diverse range of health care settings and focuses on established approaches used to analyse and interrogate health care interaction, ranging from narratology and corpus linguistics to conversation and discourse analysis. With such a particular focus on research methodology, this programme also offers a unique opportunity for investigating language and communication from interdisciplinary perspectives.
Each 20 credit module will entail a notional 225 hours study time, in line with the general university recommendation. It will be assessed by a 4000 word essay.
The 20 credit compulsory Entry Module Research Methodologies for Health Care Communication acts as a point of progression. Students must pass this module (either at first attempt or at resit) in order to progress automatically to the rest of the taught course. Students must complete the taught element of the course before proceeding to the writing of their 12-15,000 word dissertation.
There are several staged exit points which, if exercised by the student, lead to the following awards:
- Post-Graduate Certificate (upon completion of 60 credits)
- Post-Graduate Diploma (upon completion of 120 credits)
- Master of Arts (upon completion of 180 credits)
The completion of 120 credits for the Post-Graduate Diploma is a point of progression before admission to the dissertation to complete the MA. Any student who passes sufficient credits at each exit point or point of progression will have an automatic right to proceed to the next stage of the course.
You will have access to many online resources, as well as your own personal tutor for each module that you take. Particular features of the programme include:
- a theoretical grounding in research methodology and linguistic description
- one-to-one tuition with expert members of staff
- innovative and engaging teaching methods
- access to many online resources
- great flexibility in course content, optionality, and changes in direction.
All MA students in the School of English join a lively and thriving postgraduate community. As such, you will be invited to attend a voluntary ‘Summer School’ each year, giving you a chance to meet other students in the school face-to-face.
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