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HASC817 Health Sciences Master's Research Methods

Qualitative and quantitative research methodology and critical analysis for master's level health sciences research. Project design and development; critical appraisal; theoretical perspectives; independent application and analysis of complex material.

HASC 817 is a master's level version of the existing HASC 417 Health Sciences Research Methods paper (Level 8). HASC 817 will be concurrently taught with HASC 417. Additional assessment requirements will be included consistent with master's level study.

Paper title Health Sciences Master's Research Methods
Paper code HASC817
Subject Health Sciences
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Full Year (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,018.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Limited to
May be taken by other approved students. Includes three residential periods.
Offered only to students undertaking a master's degree by research project or equivalent.

Teaching staff
Convenors: James Stanley and Maria Stubbe
Paper Structure

Topic areas covered:

  • Introduction to research
  • Research frameworks - qualitative, quantitative
  • Ethics - theory and principles, historical background
  • Principles of cross-cultural research - considering implications of the Treaty of Waitangi for research, consultation with Māori
  • Basic research skills - literature searching, writing proposals, dissemination of results
  • Principles of critical appraisal of quantitative and qualitative research
  • Achieving rigour - understanding bias/confounding (quantitative studies) and reflexivity/transparency (qualitative studies) and taking them into account in research design and analysis
  • Data collection methods - surveys (standardisation, reliability, validity, questionnaire design, mode of delivery), observational epidemiology, clinical trials, talking to people (focus groups, interviews), observation (ethnography, recording)
  • Data handling - different types of qualitative data, descriptive and inferential statistics (confidence intervals, p-values)
  • Statistical analysis of simple datasets - tables, graphs, confidence intervals and hypothesis tests using statistical analysis packages
  • Analysis of qualitative data sets - transcripts, documents, audio-visual data, observational data
Teaching Arrangements

This Distance Learning paper is a combination of remote and in-person teaching.

  • The paper will cover both semesters (ie the standard full-year teaching period).
  • Teaching and learning methods: The paper will employ face-to-face and distance learning through in-person and Zoom seminars and laboratory workshops, and written resources to support student assignment work, and will utilise a University-supported online learning tool (Blackboard).
  • The paper will require a significant amount of self-directed learning on the part of the student.
  • The final result for the paper will be based on marks for the five assignments.
  • Two residential periods are offered (three days in March and two days in June), with a third block held online in August/September. The in-person residentials are held on campus at the University of Otago, Wellington.
  • If students are unable to travel to attend the in-person residentials (due to COVID restrictions), we can provide alternative options. If in-person residentials cannot be offered at all due to restrictions, we will run the residentials as online block-days.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to attend all three block courses, and must attend a minimum of 80% of the block time to meet terms requirements for the paper (or undertake approved equivalent work if non-attendance is unavoidable e.g. due to COVID restrictions, family emergencies or for medical reasons).

Recommended (not required) textbooks:

  • Peat, J., Health Science Research: A Handbook of Quantitative Methods, Allen & Unwin, 2001
  • Hays, D.G. and Singh, A.A, Qualitative Inquiry in Clinical and Educational Settings. Guilford Publications, 2011.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this paper, students will:

  1. Demonstrate advanced understanding of the general principles of research design in relation to answering different types of research questions. (Contributes to scholarship, lifelong learning, critical thinking, research, communication, and interdisciplinary perspective)
  2. Apply highly specialised knowledge of ethical principles, legal requirements and Treaty of Waitangi principles to research design and the conduct of research. (Contributes to cultural diversity and ethics, scholarship and research)
  3. Critically evaluate the findings of published research so as to independently evaluate the types of research design and comprehensively comment on the validity of the results and conclusions from the appropriate quantitative or qualitative methodological perspective. (Contributes to critical thinking, information literacy, research and scholarship)
  4. Independently analyse, report and present different types of research data to a high standard. (Contributes to critical thinking, self-motivation, research, and communication)
  5. Understand both basic and selected advanced statistical frameworks used in the design and analysis of health-related studies and demonstrate competence with important statistical concepts and terminology. (Contributes to information literacy, research, and communication)
  6. Have competence with independently operating a statistical computer package. (Contributes to information literacy, research, self-motivation, lifelong learning)
  7. Understand the basic methodological principles and application of selected qualitative approaches to health research. (Contributes to research, scholarship, information literacy, and interdisciplinary perspective)
  8. Write a methodologically sound master-level research project proposal, some aspects of which include being at the forefront of knowledge and showing a critical awareness of issues in the field of study or practice. (Contributes to research, scholarship, communication, critical thinking, self-motivation, lifelong learning, ethics, and cultural diversity)

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Full Year

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system