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University of Exeter Medical School

Independent Research

Module titleIndependent Research
Module codeHPDM148
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Tristan Snowsill ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module is the piece of independent research associated with the Masters programmes in Clinical Education, Clinical Pharmacy, Healthcare Leadership & Management, Health Research Methods and Extreme Medicine.  It is designed to enable you to produce a project report under supervision, and to demonstrate project design, development, evaluation, synthesis and dissemination skills.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of the independent research module is to enable you to demonstrate their ability to design, conduct, evaluate and write up a project on a topic that is of relevance to the title and aim of their award and in doing so, to demonstrate self-direction, originality and an ability to act autonomously in the planning and implementation of project skills at an advanced professional level. 

Supervisors will be drawn from academic staff and external co-supervisors (where appropriate) depending on the research interest of the student.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Systematically and critically review relevant theory and methodology in the design and development of an independent project
  • 2. Provide evidence of skills in the formulation of research questions, identification of aims and objectives and clarification and justification of choice of methodological approach

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Critically analyse, evaluate and synthesise a project’s findings and interpret their relevance within the context of established or emerging theories, policies and/or professional practice
  • 4. Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems in the conduct of a project that is methodologically and ethically sound

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Present a logically argued and clearly written project report that will aim to enhance knowledge and understanding of an area of practice at an advanced level
  • 6. Critically evaluate and reflect upon their own strengths, limitations and performance with reference to the design, development, organisation and write up of the project
  • 7. Prepare academic outputs using visual, oral and written methods

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content will vary from year to year, and project to project, an example of an overall structure is as follows:

Students will work under the supervision of one or more supervisors to undertake an independent research process including the following components:

  • Select a topic area that is relevant and important to the field of study
  • Develop a research question that is appropriate to the scale of a Masters independent research project
  • Justify the need for the research with support from the background literature
  • Develop an appropriate methodological approach with which to answer the research question
  • Consider the ethical principles relating to the chosen project and apply for ethical approval to proceed
  • Collect and analyse the data associated with the research project in a rigorous way, justifying your approach
  • Write up the research project in a manner appropriate to the intended audience, ensuring that the findings/discussions answer the research question.
  • Presentation of research project: oral presentation for all Masters students, except the distance learning MSc Extreme Medicine students, who will create a poster presentation.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning & teaching activities40Supervision meetings (scheduled by arrangement between individual students and supervisors). Contact with dissertation supervisors may take place face-to-face or via email, telephone and/or video-conferencing.
Guided independent study100Resource gathering and in-depth reading
Guided independent study260Project design and delivery
Guided independent study200Preparation and writing of written report and presentation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Feedback and discussion with supervisor40 hours2-4,6Verbal and online

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Project report following journal guidelines80Maximum 5,000 words (dependent on target journal guidance)11-5Written
Oral Presentation (CE, HLM, CP, HRM) or Poster Presentation (EM) Presentations (e.g. PowerPoint-based presentation to group in face-to-face setting) may be replaced by PowerPoint-based presentation to the group using Teams/Zoom; or submission of a narrated PowerPoint.20(CE, HLM, CP, HRM) 10 minutes + 5 minutes questions - presentation to group in face-to-face setting may be replaced by presentation to the group using Teams/Zoom; (EM) Conference style poster1-5Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Project report following journal guidelines (80%), maximum 5,000 words (dependent on target journal guidance)Project report following journal guidelines1-5Typically within 12 weeks of the result
Oral presentation (CE, HLM, CP, HRM); 10 minutes + 5 minutes questions; Poster Presentation (EM), Conference style poster (EM); (20%); Oral presentation or Poster presentation 1-5Typically within 12 weeks of the result

Re-assessment notes

If it is not practical for a reassessed presentation to be given in person then a video-conferenced/Skype presentation or a video submission may be accepted at the assessor’s discretion. Distance learning students (MSc Extreme Medicine) would need to improve their poster to a passing standard.

Please also refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral:  

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Dixon N (2001) Writing for publication a guide for new authors. International Journal for Quality in Healthcare. 13;5:417-21 

Day RA and Gastel B (2006) How to write and publish a scientific paper. Cambridge University Press 

Lock D. (2007).The Essentials of Project Management (3rd edition). Aldershot, Gower Publishing 

Rudestam, K. and Newton, R. (2007). Surviving your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process (3rd edition). London, Sage Publications. 

Swetnam, D. (2005). How to Plan, Prepare and Present Successful Work (3rd edition). Trowbridge, Cromwell Press Ltd.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Systematic Reviews

PRISMA reporting guidelines – see


Reporting guidelines - see

Writing skills –The Purdue Online Writing Lab


Please see ELE above for further up to date electronic resources.

Key words search

Research project, dissertation, thesis.

Credit value60
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

For MSc HRM students only: at least two out of HPDM092, HPDM093, HPDM054 in Term 1

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date