Course overview

This course provides the in-depth skills required to understand and/or carry out research in healthcare. We offer an interdisciplinary learning environment embedded within the university’s Economic and Social Research Council funded Doctoral Training Partnership; a collaborative venture between the universities of Nottingham, Birmingham, Warwick, Leicester, Loughborough and Aston.

You'll be taught by colleagues from politics, the social sciences and health, studying alongside research methods students in other schools. As healthcare is a multi-disciplinary practice, exposure to learning opportunities outside healthcare both broadens and deepens your learning experience.

We foster 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 knowledge and experience you'll develop will be ideally placed for you to pursue an academic or clinical academic career in healthcare research.

From 15 March 2022, the UK government revoked the requirement for students engaged in patient-facing health or social care settings to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. This means that while we still encourage all eligible students to become fully vaccinated, there will be no impediment to you starting your course, regardless of your Covid vaccination status.

Why choose this course?

Around one third

of graduates go on to be awarded doctoral scholarship funding

Dedicated mentoring

for your doctoral training scholarship application

Broaden your learning

with interdisciplinary advanced method workshop opportunities


of research activity is rated as world-leading and internationally excellent with significant impact on people's health and well-being

School of Health Sciences, REF 2014

Course content

The emphasis throughout the course is on linking theoretical and methodological understandings with practical experience of research design and implementation.

You 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 your ability to critique evidence, which is required for making informed policy decisions and clinical recommendations.

You'll receive training in core research methods and researcher development, offered through a blend of Researcher Academy and school provision. This typically includes the provision of training in writing a bibliography and other transferable learning skills.


Core modules

You will take a total of 180 credits across the programme

Research Design, Practice and Ethics 20 credits

This module aims to familiarise you with diagnosing and evaluating elements of research design in existing research, familiarising them with trade-offs involved in these choices and enabling you to make conscious design choices for your own research.

The module also aims to provide you with sufficient insight to organise practical and ethical aspects of your research.

Philosophy of Research - Social Science 20 credits

Through guided reading and discussion, this module aims to:

  • Enable you 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.
Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis

This module aims to give you:

  • 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.

Foundations in Qualitative Methods 20 credits

This module aims to:

  • Provide you 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
Doctoral Scholarship Application Training 20 credits

This module offers research development framework training to enable you to complete and defend a competitive, peer reviewed doctoral fellowship application.  

It is designed to offer you support and mentorship to prepare an application for a doctoral scholarship. This includes mentoring towards an NIHR application for doctoral funding.  

In preparation for this you will have access to a choice of training from within the Graduate School, the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership and the Centre for Doctoral Training (Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing and School of Health Science). These may include taught networking skills, presentation skills, ethics, public engagement, costing a study, strategies for dissemination, as well interview preparation and panel interview experience. 

Dissertation 60 credits

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.

Optional modules

Choice of Advanced Training Modules (to equal 20 credits)

Advanced Training Modules 20 credits

Our Advanced Training Modules are cross-disciplinary learning opportunities to improve the quality of PhD work, and to create networking opportunities regionally and nationally. They bring cutting-edge knowledge to the heart of doctoral training.

To find out more about the module topics offered, please visit the Advanced Training Modules web page.

The above is a sample of the typical modules 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. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Wednesday 23 March 2022.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Application training support
  • Workshops
  • Presentations
  • Self-study
  • Research proposal support
  • Feedback

We use a variety of teaching methods on the course. This includes dedicated doctoral scholarship application support, tailored feedback, library skills training and opportunities for networking with other researchers.

How you will be assessed

  • Assignments
  • Coursework
  • Presentation
  • Dissertation

Your work will be assessed during or at the end of each module through a variety of means.

To complete a module and gain its credits you will need to make sure you attend your timetabled sessions and get over the 50% pass mark.

In order to achieve the MA Research Methods (Health), you will need a total of 180 credits.

Contact time and study hours

Teaching contact time for full-time students is approximately 6-9 hours each week during the autumn semester and approximately 3-6 hours each week during the spring semester.

Once all taught content is completed, you will spend May-September working on your dissertation project and doctoral scholarship application training.

You will also take part in self-guided independent study and individual meetings with your supervisor outside of timetabled contact hours.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

Undergraduate degreeMinimum 2:1 honours degree


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


UK fees are set in line with the national UKRI maximum fee limit. We expect fees for 2022 entry to be confirmed in August 2021.

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should 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. 


The programme is available as both a self-funded and NIHR funded research degree and can be studied either full or part-time.

Scholarships for Home/EU students

We are strongly committed to supporting clinicians to develop clinical academic careers. We are able to offer the MA 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. Applications for NIHR 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.

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.

For enquiries about NIHR funding, contact: Dr Claire Diver or Dr Kate Radford.

For general enquiries, please contact: Dr Alison Edgley.

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

This 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. Find out more about NHS clinical academic careers.

Many of our graduates go on to do funded PhD study. We offer support and mentorship in the development of PhD applications.

Career progression

96.9% of postgraduates from the School of Health Sciences secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £29,708.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time 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.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates

This content was last updated on Wednesday 23 March 2022. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.