Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Health [Queen's Campus, Stockton]


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2007/08


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce and outline different philosophical approaches to knowledge and its generation including ethical and practical considerations in designing, evaluating and governing research projects.


  • Introduction: quantitative, qualitative methods, literature reviews
  • The social construction of knowledge
  • Philosophy of science and social science 1: Empiricism and quantitative research (Positivism, Popper, induction, deduction)
  • Philosophy of science and social science 2: Idealism, conventionalism and qualitative research (Kant, Kuhn)
  • Philosophy of science and social science 3: Post-structuralism, language and discourse analysis (Derrida, Foucault)
  • Research cycle
  • Critical appraisal
  • Research ethics
  • Patient and user involvement in research
  • Research funding and governance

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Key ways of thinking about knowledge and what constitutes evidence in health related fields
  • Developments in philosphical thinking and how these have influenced research practice
  • Essential components of research design and governance
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Critiquing the philosophical basis of published research papers
  • Identifying research questions
  • Designing in outline an appropriate research project and method
  • Ensuring appropriate stakeholder invovlement in research
  • Ensuring appropriate ethical and governance considerations in the design of a project
Key Skills:
  • The ability to think critically and creatively and to argue coherently;
  • The capacity for sustained interprofessional learning and work at an advanced level and the ability to learn through reflection on practice and experience
  • The ability to think independently, including problem-solving ability and the ability to discriminate and use judgement;
  • The ability to communicate effectively across specialised subject and professional areas.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • • Lecturing - Introduces key elements of the course - Outlines and explains the various philosophical approaches - Outlines and explains the basic components of research design, ethics and governance
  • Tutorials and seminars - Allow students to work through concepts in more detail, providing both teacher and peer led input, and developing students' ability to design research projects that are, where appropriate, discipline-specific and/or interdisciplinary as appropriate
  • Structured reading - allows students to pursue topics in greater detail enabling both familiarity with key texts and a deeper understanding of the subject knowledge generally
  • Independent study, research and analysis - Focuses student knowledge more deeply by pursuing aspects of the module that are of special interest to themselves and exploring specific applications in their field of study.
  • Essay assessment will test students’ critical knowledge and understanding of key concepts, their ability to argue coherently and communicate effectively in writing, and to reflectively assess their proficiency in thinking through how the various philosophical perspectives and governance influence research design and the interpretation of findings.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 10 weekly 1 hr 10
Tutorial/seminar 10 weekly 1 hr 10
Structured Reading 10 sets weekly 3 hrs 30
Library researching/Independent study Student initiated Student determined 100
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 3000 words 100% essay

Formative Assessment:

One presentation to a tutorial group outlining preliminary thinking on the summative assessment question.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University