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PHH2142: Research methods in the health sciences

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate – Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal datesfor the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences


Professor Peter Nyasulu


South Africa

  • Second semester 2018 (On-campus)


HSC1061 or PHH1061.




This unit builds on the introduction to research methods provided in PHH1061. In that unit students’ learning was focused on appraising evidence produced by other researchers, and on describing and comparing study designs. In this unit, we extend this learning by enabling students to develop skills in designing and conducting their own research projects. The unit will cover: developing answerable research questions, matching research questions with study designs, collecting and analysing study data, managing research projects, and applications of quantitative, qualitative and combined approaches. The cultural, ethical and political contexts within which research takes place will also be discussed.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Develop researchable questions by completing a literature review to determine gaps in current knowledge.
  2. Develop and prepare a viable research protocol (which includes detailing the chosen research design, sampling and recruitment procedures, data collection and analysis strategies and a rationale for choices made in each of these arenas).
  3. Explain different types of research design and how to choose the most appropriate design to answer explanatory and exploratory research questions.
  4. Design effective research instruments (questionnaires, interview schedules, focus group schedules).
  5. Recognise and outline ethical dilemmas associated with planning and executing morally responsible, culturally sensitive research.


  • Written assignment (1,500 words) (25%)
  • Written assignment (2,000 words) (30%)
  • Tutorial participation and/or other preparation for classes and contribution to class discussions (15%)
  • Exam (2 hours) (30%)

Hurdle: 80% attendance at tutorials.

Workload requirements

3 contact hours per week PLUS 9 hours of private study hours per week.

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Peter Nyasulu

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Public health – South Africa

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