With a maximum of 16 places on offer (including both NIHR and self-funded students), the course fosters a close-knit, highly motivated and supportive study environment. It is ideal for those working within healthcare, or preparing for PhD doctoral-level studies.
The course provides the in-depth skills required to understand and/or carry out research in healthcare, alongside offering an interdisciplinary learning environment embedded within the University’s Economic and Social Research Council funded Doctoral Training Partnership (ESRC DTP), taught by colleagues from politics, the social sciences and health. As healthcare is a multi-disciplinary practice, exposure to learning opportunities outside healthcare both broadens and deepens the learning experience.
The emphasis throughout is on linking theoretical and methodological understandings with practical experience of research design and implementation. Students will learn a variety of methodological techniques (for example qualitative and quantitative approaches) and research techniques (such as interviewing or advanced statistical analysis), alongside developing their ability to critique evidence, which is required for making informed policy decisions and clinical recommendations.
Course aims and objectives
By the end of the course, students will:
- be familiar with the range of methods used by researchers in the health and social sciences, and understand how some issues or practices may be viewed differently from different disciplinary perspectives
- understand the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of these methods
- be able to make an informed choice about which methods are appropriate for answering particular questions
- be competent to design and carry out research using a range of different methods of data collection and analysis
- have a clear grasp of the ethical and political issues which arise in research in health, social work or the social sciences
- be able to frame research in relation to the theoretical and conceptual issues which arise in the subject areas in which they are working
About the ESRC doctoral training programme
This course is embedded with the University of Nottingham's ESRC doctoral training programme, a collaborative venture between the universities of Nottingham, Birmingham, Warwick, Leicester, Loughborough and Aston.
We welcome international applicants and the University’s International Office provides a range of dedicated support services and advice.
- Ranked 5th in the UK and 27th in the world for nursing by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019
- Ranked 3rd in the UK for physiotherapy, according to the Complete University Guide 2020
- 86% of our research activity is rated world-leading or internationally excellent, with significant impact on people's health and wellbeing
- Ranked 5th in terms of research power in our unit of assessment, a measure which includes the quality of research and number of research active staff, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework 2014
- 82% of students from the School of Health Sciences who participated in the 2017 Postgraduate Research Experience Survey were satisfied with the overall experience of their research degree programme
- Around a third of graduates go on to be awarded doctoral scholarship funding
Students will receive training in core research methods and researcher development, offered through a blend of Graduate School and school provision. This typically includes the provision of training in advanced word techniques, writing a bibliography and other transferable learning skills.
The taught component of the course consists of 80 credits of core research methods training, 30 credits of subject specific training, and then 10 credits of optional advanced training - plus dissertation.
Each student takes the following, totalling 180 credits:
- Research Design and Practice (20 credits)
- Philosophy of Social Research (20 credits)
- Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis (20 credits)
- Foundations in Qualitative Research (20 credits)
- Doctoral Scholarship Application Training (20 credits)
- Advanced Research Training Module choice of 2 (10 credits each)
- Dissertation (60 credits)
The programme is available as both a self-funded and NIHR funded research degree and can be studied either full or part-time. Details of the NIHR-funded route can be found on the school’s scholarship page.
Application for 2020 entry
Applications for NIHR PCAF funding require pre-application discussions with Dr Claire Diver and an outline research proposal to be submitted with the application.
Self-funding and other forms of scholarship do not require an outline research proposal.
Students in health sciences will study alongside research methods students registered in other schools.
Research Design, Practice and Ethics
This module aims to familiarise students with diagnosing and evaluating elements of research design in existing research, familiarising them with trade-offs involved in these choices and enabling them to make conscious design choices for their own research.
The module also aims to provide students with sufficient insight to organise practical and ethical aspects of their research.
Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis
This module aims to give students:
- An understanding of the methods of statistical analysis, using topics and datasets from the empirical social science literature
- A familiarity with STATA statistical software and data management
The course uses a range of datasets from across political science, focusing on topics such as social capital, voter turnout, cabinet duration, demonstration activity and class voting.
Philosophy of Research - Social Science
Through guided reading and discussion, this module aims to:
- Enable students to analyse the epistemological and ontological issues that arise from different social and educational theories and their impact on social research methodologies, and how they relate to the validity of explanations or descriptions.
Foundations in Qualitative Methods
This module aims to:
- Provide students with critical insight into the possibilities and applications of qualitative research and the role that it occupies within the wider range of research methods
- Map debates on the relationship between qualitative and quantitative methods
- Develop an awareness of key aspects, concepts and forms of qualitative data
- Identify and examine ethical issues, in particular researcher-subject roles and relationships
The dissertation will be an outline PhD proposal and a small piece of empirical work. The research proposal should indicate what the PhD might be along with what the empirical work might be. The proposal should be no more than one side of A4 and should include; an aim, rationale, background literature, proposed methodology and methods.
Find out more on how to write a research proposal. You will also need to provide a personal statement.
Advanced training modules
- Evaluating Interventions, Services and Health and Social Care
- Principles and Processes of Comprehensive Systematic Review
- Mixed Methods in Health Research
- Social Epidemiology: Theories and Methods for Understanding the Social Determinants of Health
- Individual and Group Interviews
Politics and International Relations
- Intermediate Quantitative Analysis
- Measurement Models
- Structural Equation Modelling
- Text Analysis
- Advanced Methods in Survey Analysis
- Conducting an Ethnography
- Analysing Verbal and Visual Interaction
- Archival Methods
- Visual Methodology
- Health Economic Evaluation: Principles and Practicalities
- Researching Media, Culture and Society
- Researching Public Policy and Management
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.
Careers and professional development
This course is the second stage of the HEE/NIHR integrated clinical academic pathway. Download the PDF for more information.
The programme is consistently highly evaluated by graduates and can open a range of doors, including both research career opportunities in the health service and academia, leading to future clinical academic or advanced clinical leadership roles. Many of our graduates go on to do funded PhD study.
You will develop the skills, experience and knowledge necessary to continue your research at PhD level and will be ideally placed to pursue an academic or clinical academic career in the field of healthcare research.
Upon completion of the course, the school offers support and mentorship in the development of PhD applications.
Find out more about clinical academic careers on the NHS Careers website.
Average starting salary and career progression
100% of postgraduates from the School of Health Sciences secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The median starting salary was £32,000*
* Known destinations of full-time UK postgraduates who were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.
Recent graduates have gone on to work for NHS trusts (such as clinical specialists, advanced practitioners, modern matrons), universities (such as lecturers and senior academics, lecturer practitioners, researchers) and in private practice.
Careers support and advice
We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students whatever your course, mode of study or future career plans.
You can access our Careers and Employability Service during your studies and after you graduate. Expert staff will help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.
More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.
Fees and funding
As a student on this course, you could factor some additional costs into your budget, such as printing, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles.
Scholarships and bursaries
For NIHR Pre-Doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowships (PCAF) and Silver Scholar Awards
We are strongly committed to supporting clinicians to develop clinical academic careers. We are able to offer the MA in Research Methods, as well as bespoke research training, that will support you with applications to the NIHR for this funding.
The University of Nottingham (School of Health Sciences and the Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing) can offer support to apply for research methods training funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) up to a Master’s degree, as well offering a self-funded route in masters level training in research methods.
We can also work with individuals to develop bespoke master’s level research training that will form part of a PCAF application to the NIHR. See the NIHR website for details.
For enquiries about NIHR funding, contact: Dr Claire Diver or Dr Kate Radford.
For general enquiries, please contact: Dr Alison Edgley.
Find out more about NIHR funding on the flyer
Visit the NIHR website.
Information about the NIHR funding route.
There are some other funding opportunities from sources such as ESRC studentships.
We are happy to advise prospective applicants on their eligibility for these funds and other opportunities. We also offer administrative support and advice to assist students with applications to external funding opportunities for postgraduate professional research education in the school.
Students who are interested in self-funding can complete the online application form or call general postgraduate enquiries on +44 (0)115 823 1213.
Government loans for masters courses
Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.
International and EU students
Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.
We provide guidance on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study. You can also access specific funding opportunities, entry requirements and other resources for students from specific countries.
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.