Public health is an evidence-based discipline. Systematic reviews are an important type of evidence that public health practitioners use as they are regarded as the gold standard for supporting decision making. Systematic reviews comprehensively identify, collate, and summarise the body of knowledge on a particular topic or question to provide a complete interpretation of the research. This means that public health decisions can be made based on the best available evidence. Systematic reviews are important for decision making because their rigorous and explicit methodology promotes findings that are free of bias.
The methodology of systematic reviews enables students to link across many core public health topics related to study design, critical appraisal, data management, analysis skills, and library skills.
The module will take you on an exciting journey through the steps involved in conducting a systematic review. We cover the methods that apply to a range of different types of public health interventions, including those focusing on feasibility, appropriateness, meaningfulness, and effectiveness. We look at how to frame the question for the systematic review, searching and screening the evidence, critical appraisal of the evidence, synthesis of the evidence, and assessing the confidence in the findings of the review. Students learn the theory of these steps and have practical sessions throughout the module to apply their learning.
Understanding the theory and practical application of systematic reviews is a key aspect of public health. All public health professionals will need to be able to read and understand the findings from systematic review articles and critique the quality of a review. Additionally, some public health graduates may need to conduct their own systematic review of the evidence for a specific topic or area. Gaining knowledge of the process and experience in conducting the steps of a systematic review will provide the foundations for conducting your own systematic review.
The module convenors are Directors of the Nottingham Centre for Evidence Based Healthcare, which is a JBI Centre of Excellence. The Centre is internationally recognised as a leader in evidence synthesis, comprising of world-leading experienced academic researchers, information scientists, and clinical practitioners, all specialising in evidence synthesis. We are highly experienced in delivering accredited short courses and bespoke workshops locally, nationally, and internationally on all aspects of evidence synthesis, including systematic reviews and scoping reviews.
As experts in evidence synthesis and systematic reviews, we enjoy teaching and sharing our knowledge, hints, and tips with our students. The content follows a linear format focusing on the steps of a systematic review and the delivery is split between the expertise of the two module leads, where we cover approaches to systematic reviews for quantitative and qualitative study designs. We particularly enjoy discussing the topic of the assignment with the students since choosing their own topic means that students apply the principles and practices of systematic reviews to a context which has meaning to them.
Your module leaders are:
Professor Jo Leonardi-Bee – Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology
“I love teaching students how systematic reviews can be used to help make the most of existing research evidence to help healthcare professionals, patients, and the public to make informed decisions about health. I work closely with JBI, which is one of the main organisations at the forefront of evidence synthesis, to develop systematic review methods.”
Professor Catrin Evans – Professor of Evidence Based Healthcare
“I am an enthusiastic and award-winning educator who enjoys supporting students to achieve their potential. I am passionate about working with health professionals to understand how to use evidence to inform policy and practice.”
Mixed Methods in Health Research
The module is one of a number of modules offered as part of the Universities ESRC doctoral training centre in advanced research methods. This module will explore the philosophical and practical foundations for using mixed methods in health research. Mixed methods research will be explored by considering issues around conceptualising and designing mixed methods research to selecting methods, analysing and interpreting data and reporting findings. In common with the other advanced modules offered by the ESRC DTC, you will engage in workshops with additional guided reading and work.
Evaluating Services, Interventions and Policy
This module will introduce you to the main approaches and methods available for the evaluation of health and social care policy and practice. You will be prepared in how to assess the effectiveness of the interventions they implement, the programmes and services they deliver and the policies they plan or seek to enact using both qualitative and quantitative methods.
You will be taught frameworks to support their decision-making concerning the appropriate criteria by which to measure effectiveness in different situations. You will be able to distinguish between interventions, services and policies that aim for the achievement of goals, and outcomes and interventions that are goal free. You will therefore be equipped to evaluate structures, processes and outcomes and - more importantly - be able to identify where best to evaluate structures, processes or outcomes.
The module will prepare you to identify and demonstrate the benefit of interventions to individual users, organisations or whole populations.
Philosophy of Research - Social Science
In this module, you will engage with three distinct parts:
- science and the philosophical critique of science
- epistemological debates in the social sciences - including, but not limited to, positivism and its critics, interpretative approaches including phenomenology, critical realism, social construction and the politics of knowledge and the sociology of science
- the funding environment - interdisciplinarity and the impact agenda
Doing Ethnography (1)
This module considers in detail 'ethnography' as a qualitative research method. It explores the underlying principles and practices of the approach, which, broadly speaking, involves studying people 'at first hand', in detail, usually at length and in the context in which they live, work, play etc. It will explore:
- Key concepts and approaches
- Important ethnographic studies
- Critiques, strengths and weaknesses
- Designing and planning your own ethnographic study
Students will experience a range of learning methods including lectures, workshops, film viewings, student presentations and group work.
Multi-Level Modelling for Social Research
This module provides an intermediate level induction in modern multi-level modelling for social science research.
You will not only be introduced to these methods, but you will also critically evaluate them in relation to other analytical options, and the course provides, in addition to substantive and methodological instruction, practical training in conducting these kinds of analysis.
Research Design, Practice and Ethics
This course focuses on the analytical, practical and ethical organization of social science research. The analytical organization is often referred to as research design and will constitute the bulk of the content of this course. Research design consists of choices necessary to transform a research question into actual research. These choices pertain to strategies and modes of case selection, observation methods, data collection and modes of analysis, and these choices pertain equally to so-called ‘qualitative’, ‘quantitative’ and ‘mixed methods’ studies.Every research question can be elaborated in different ways (i.e., with different designs), none of which will be ideal in all respects as the various choices pertain involve. Each design has its own implications in terms of costs and in terms of potential threats to the validity of its eventual conclusions. The course discusses these implications and how to handle the resulting choice problems in actual practice.The practical organisation of research is closely related to design choices, but focuses particularly on logistical timing and resource issues.Ethical organisation of the research involves awareness of ethical issues, of ethical consent procedures and of their implications for research design and practical organisation.
Foundations in Qualitative Methods
This module provides a conceptual overview of the various approaches and debates associated with theory and practice of qualitative research. It examines a range of contrasting perspectives on the design of research including problem identification, selection and sampling, and analysis. Research ethics, and the role of the researcher in generating qualitative data, are key themes which run through the module. Specific consideration is given to the ways in which qualitative and quantitative approaches may be seen as complementary, and the use of mixed methods. The module will also cover the ways in which qualitative research can be evaluated. The module will also facilitate dialogue between members of different social science disciplines, to give an understanding of how some issues or practices may be viewed differently from different disciplinary perspectives.
Intermediate Quantitative Analysis
The objective of this module is to introduce students to specific intermediate-level issues of quantitative data analysis. In doing so, it will focus on examples from the analysis of cross-sectional survey data. The lecture component of the module will explore the most common issues that arise when examining cross-sectional survey data. This includes issues such as: measurement error, non-response, missing data, weighting, recoding, and merging data sets. The lecture will also discuss the relative strengths of different survey modes: face-to-face, telephone and Internet. Finally, the lecture will discuss logistic regression. In the laboratory component, students will learn to address the most common issues and the use of logistic regression, using a range of the most popular survey data sets. Through assignments, students will have the opportunity to develop and test hypotheses and explanations using major survey data sets. The module should provide the skills necessary to take cross-sectional survey data sets, and conduct the analysis necessary to conduct a full scale research project. The module will also provide students with the intermediate-level quantitative skills necessary to take more advanced quantitative modules, in survey analysis or otherwise.
Individual and Group Interviews
This block will involve practically-oriented sessions where to explore a variety of individual and group interview approaches. This will include focus groups as well as structured, semi-structured, and more open-ended styles of interviewing (including narrative approaches). It will also consider the use of stimulus material, vignettes, and critical incidents as possible ways of structuring interview interactions.
Sessions will include practical demonstrations of interviewing, and will involve the analysis of interview transcripts, along with published research papers, which use different analytical approaches. Among a range of issues that will be considered, it will discuss some of the ethical issues that can arise when this type of fieldwork is being conducted, and there will be plenty of opportunity for you to draw upon your own research experiences within this and other discussions. This is a hands-on module.
Structural Equation Modelling
This course focuses on the use of structural equation models (SEM), in empirical social research. SEM is sometimes referred to as causal modelling, because of the possibility to specify a full causal model and subject it to empirical scrutiny. Such models differ from, e.g. regression and ANOVA models because they do not distinguish between a single dependent variable, and all other variables being independent. Instead, the distinction is between exogenous (not influenced by other variables, reflected in a graphical representation of the model by the absence of incoming arrows) and endogenous variables (which are influenced by others, shown in graphical representations by incoming arrows). Endogenous variables can simultaneously be influenced by other variables and exert influence on yet other ones. Under certain conditions SEM can even model reciprocal effects between variables. This allows the development of empirical models that are closer to substantive theories, as well as the explicit comparative evaluation of rivalling causal theories. In addition to this aspect of ‘causal’ modelling, SEM also comprises aspects pertaining to the measurement of latent variables with multiple indicators (i.e. confirmatory factor analysis, or CFA).
The course covers the methodological background of SEM, practical considerations in actual applications, empirical examples from different disciplines, and hands-on training (using the STATA software; however, the course is also relevant for those using other software such as AMOS, LISREL or MPlus).
Analytical Research Methods
This module is a selection of workshops on advanced statistics for the neurosciences.
Contemporary Issues and Debates in Social Work
This module examines the nature of contemporary debates and issues in social work by focusing on the nature of knowledge in social work and some of the main social theories which conceptualise social work and its relationship to the state, society and the individual.
You will be able to understand how different theoretical approaches provide different ways of thinking about the nature of social work in advanced modern societies and their implications for social work practice.
The debates covered will include:
- how to protect children and vulnerable adults
- personalisation and adult care
- the role of research in social work and evidence-based practice
- structure/agency, power and inequalities
- risk and the bureaucratisation of social work
Researching Media, Culture and Society
This module will offer a masterclass in key debates and issues in the Anglo-American media in order to explore a range of i) theories about popular media and ii) different approaches to studying a range of media genres. It problematises the role of the media in contemporary culture and society in three specific contexts: Media, education and citizenship, Gender and identity and 'cities and urban life'. The cities and urban life block will focus upon urban sociological research and theory addressing the representation of cities and urban life, such as on the rural/urban binary and issues of stigma and place. Drawing on these contexts and case studies, it will equip students with appropriate theoretical and methodological tools to critically analyse a range of media texts and audienceship practices. Students will practice various research methods by experimenting with different methodological and analytical approaches.The media, education and citizenship block will explore issues around media and citizenship, with a focus on culture, ideology and politics. The Gender and Identity block, will explore feminist theories about popular media, with the emphasis on exploring research methods and methodologies appropriate for analysing gendered mediated representations as they intersect with other axes of difference such as race, class and sexuality.
Models and Approaches in Mental Health Research
This lecture-based course will cover topics in the following areas:
- definitions and disorders
- classification systems and surrounding issues
- models in mental health research (incl. ethical considerations)
- cognitive/affective mechanisms and the symptom approach
- the neuroscience approach to mental health research
- pharmacological and non-pharmacological management approaches in mental health
- service user-led research approaches
- the role of trauma and stress in the aetiology and trajectory of mental health problems
Topics in Cognitive Neuropsychiatry
This module introduces research methods for investigating the neural processes that underlie cognitive function in mental health and illness. You will engage in a mixture of lectures, group work (informal presentations), workshops, and self-directed learning.
Topics will include:
- an introduction to neuroimaging methods (including MRI, PET, EEG, MEG, TMS) and task design (including ethical considerations)
- neuroanatomy and functional connectivity between brain regions underlying psychological function
- the neuropsychiatry of key transdiagnostic psychological dimensions, including:
- reality distortion
- inhibitory control and impulsivity
- moral evaluation
- social cognition
You will also learn the relevance of these dimensions to the diagnosis and treatment (pharmacological, cognitive and behavioural) of psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, mood disorders, personality disorders, ADHD, autism).
Topics in Child and Adolescent Mental Health
On this module you will gain insights into the difficulties of assessing, diagnosing and treating mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions in children and adolescents.
You’ll hear from experts in the field about what works, what doesn’t work and the factors that can influence outcomes in children and young people.
You will be encouraged to read widely to enhance your understanding of the effects of lifespan factors on conditions that emerge in childhood and will be exposed to the latest scientific developments in the field.
Your knowledge will be assessed by an oral presentation which you will put together and deliver to a small group of peers and staff and you will also design a research project that could advance the field.
This module is ideal for those of you considering pursuing a career focusing on child and adolescent mental health or for anyone with an interest in this area.
This course will provide you with multi-disciplinary perspectives on dementia – an increasingly common condition that may affect, directly or indirectly, many of our lives.
There are many areas of enquiry that improve our understanding and can improve the quality of life for people with dementia, their families and professionals who work with them.
We hear from leading researchers and experienced practitioners: psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, music therapists, arts therapists and care providers. We discover from sociolinguistic experts how dementia is represented in the media and about the impact on public understanding. We find out that alcohol is a risk factor, and reflect on how public health messages about drinking can best be framed. We hear about the latest research in assistive and information communication technologies for people with dementia, about managing dementia whilst still in employment, and the challenges of providing healthcare in rural communities. We also learn about decision-making and ethical challenges.
This module will introduce you to the concept of abnormal psychology and the application of psychology in clinical settings. The module will illustrate how psychological models are developed and how they are applied in developing interventions. The emphasis will be on examining theory and evaluation of interventions for a number of disorders/clinical issues.
Developmental Dyslexia: Psychological and Educational Perspectives
This module will give students an in depth understanding of the characteristics of developmental dyslexia. They will also learn about the main theories used to explain the presence of this developmental disorder and their relative merits in explaining components of dyslexia. Students will also gain an appreciation of developmental dyslexia within the context of research and educational environments where reasons for assessment and identification of dyslexia may differ. Students will gain experience of: synthesising and critically evaluating information; the methods used to assess children and adults with dyslexia; and the educational and environmental accommodations made for those with a diagnosis of dyslexia. This module should benefit students with an interest in developmental, cognitive or educational psychology, and those wishing to pursue a career in child psychology, educational psychology, general teaching practice and/or special needs education.
Understanding Developmental Disorders
This module explores how psychologists study and understand disorders of cognitive development. The course focuses largely on disorders which include impairments in attention, memory and/or executive function. Disorders covered include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, reading disorders and Down Syndrome.
Forensic and Mental Health
The area of forensic mental health is extremely pertinent in both the criminal justice system and mental health services, as well as the integration of the two. It is a growing area of research in psychology and it is a popular area of work for many psychology graduates.
The module will concentrate on offending behaviours, typical categorisation of those who commit crimes or harm themselves, standard interventions for offenders and the neuroscience of offending. It will also cover the current research on specific offending behaviours, and examine the role of the criminal justice system and health service in dealing with individuals who offend.
This module provides an introduction to clinical research with patients with acquired brain injury. Emphasis will be placed on the evaluation of studies which apply cognitive neuroscience and brain imaging. Topics will include:
- mechanisms of recovery
- visuospatial disorders
- dysexecutive syndrome.
The incidence and nature of these impairments will be reviewed alongside consideration of contemporary theories and evidence on the effects of rehabilitation therapies.
The module will provide you with knowledge about a range of neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. ADHD, communication disorders, developmental coordination disorder, preterm birth).
You will also cover contemporary issues in the field such as early diagnostic markers, co-occurring conditions, and developmental differences in underexplored groups.
Developmental Disorders in Context
This module will require you to critically engage with front line material on major contemporary topics in developmental psychology covering the broad spectrum of research, covering social, emotional, biological and cognitive development. The module will also introduce you to the wider context of developmental disorders such as diversity, inclusion, cultural issues, and theoretical perspectives on development.
Childhood Clinical and Behavioural Disorders
This module will examine:
- Conduct disorder
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Childhood onset schizophrenia
- Therapies for young people
- Risk, resiliency, prevention and infant mental health
An introduction to the contexts in which educational psychologists operate by examining the historical development of the profession within a set of major legislative and policy contexts, such as the drive to increase social inclusion.
The module will concentrate on assessment and intervention work with specific populations such as young people who display challenging behaviour in schools, vulnerable adolescents, and bilingual learners.
You will also examine psychological approaches to group work with teachers and pupils as well as the application of system theory in helping transform aspects of schools and other organisations.
There will be two hours of lectures per week.
Neuropsychology of action: The body in the brain
Examine the psychological and neural basis for the planning and control of human action. Students will be introduced to scientific research, through their guided exploration of the neuropsychological bases for human action.
During the module, you will experience the multi-disciplinary nature of research into human behaviour, and by the end of the course, you will understand how a single issue can be addressed from multiple perspectives including:
- experimental psychology
- functional brain-imaging
The Visual Brain: Evolution, Development, Learning and Adaptation
The central theme of this module is to explore how the architecture and function of the visual brain has been designed and shaped by experiences over a range of timescales. The innate properties of the eye and visual brain that are present at birth have been designed over millions of years of evolution. The brain continues to physically change it structure and function within a lifetime a property termed brain plasticity. Over the years of development, brain plasticity is the driving force for the maturation of different visual brain functions. Even well into adulthood, plasticity is retained in the form of learning, which can optimise performance for certain visual tasks and be exploited for therapeutic uses. Another prominent form of plasticity in the visual brain is that caused by adaptation effects of visual experience over the preceding tens of milliseconds to minutes. The module will examine the consequences of evolution, development, learning and adaptation for visual brain function and perception.
Cognitive Development and Autism
You will cover modern version of nativist and empiricist theories of cognitive development.
This module will also give you an overview of current theories which have been proposed to explain Autism Spectrum Disorder. It will provide an evaluation of these theories using behavioural, clinical and neurophysiological evidence from a range of domains including drawing and musical skills (savant skills), scientific knowledge, maths, social learning (trust and imitation) and social motivation.
You will have two hours of lectures per week for this module.
Applied Psychology: Road User Behaviour
You will learn road user behaviour from a number of psychological perspectives. Topics will include a critical review of brain scanning studies of driving, the visual skills required for driving, the effects of aging and experience, distraction (from in-car devices such as mobile phones, and from out-of-car objects such as road-side advertisements), and the skill of hazard perception (and whether this can be adequately measured as part of the licensing procedure).
The module will also cover memory for driving events (from every day driving to road traffic accidents), influences of emotion on driving (eg does the aggression-frustration hypothesis explain road rage?), and social and individual differences related to crash risk (eg sensation-seeking and risk propensity).
Cognition in the Real World
The central theme of this module is to explore how cognition functions in the real world, and to demonstrate the relevance of cognitive psychology to everyday life. In particular, it will address how cognitive models and theories can be applied to tasks that we all perform. Topics that will be covered will include attention in driving, memory for emotional events, and spatial navigation. As well covering contemporary cognitive psychology at an advanced level, components of the module will also integrate across other relevant research areas, including developmental psychology and neuropsychology.
Psychology of Ageing and Older People
This module considers how aspects of the brain and mind change with age.
Topics will include:
- perception and cognition
- decision making
- memory and forgetting
- social factors
- executive function
This module will outline the major theories of ageing and draw on evidence from behavioural experiments, large scale studies, meta-analyses, brain imaging and studies in animals. After reading, you will develop a structured research proposal to address an outstanding question or gap in knowledge.
Current issues in Cognitive Neuroscience
This module is an opportunity to work in-depth on a specific topic in cognitive neuroscience. You will tailor your chosen topic and its related methodological issues to your own research interests. The topic is based on a seminar provided in the School of Psychology, with approval from the convenor. The module concerns independent study in addition to supervision sessions.
Neuropsychology and Applied Neuroimaging
You will examine the deficits seen in individuals who have suffered brain damage. You will learn about the impairments to language, memory, perception, attention, motor control, executive control, and emotion.
This module evaluates both the clinical and theoretical aspects of these syndromes. In particular, you will evaluate the implications regarding how the healthy brain functions.
Data Analysis for Neuroimaging
Experience a brain imaging session at our on-campus MRI centre. You will then analyse one of the data sets in further lab classes.
You will be introduced to some of the standard tools used across many labs (including FSL, the FMRIB Software Library from Oxford).
Introduction to MATLAB Programming
This module involves problem-based learning to support lectures on neuroimaging topics. Topics covered include an introduction to computer programming with MATLAB, the design and analysis of behavioural experiments, and the analysis of functional MRI data.