Introduction to Study Design and Research Methods


Choosing and designing the most appropriate study to address your clinical research problem is paramount in generating the best evidence.

This module will introduce some of the more advanced concepts and skills of research design, emphasising how they relate to evidence-based health care. Choosing and designing the most appropriate study to address a clinical question is paramount in generating the best evidence. As students learn to identify the strengths and weaknesses of 6 key study designs, they will also learn how to design a research protocol. Participants will design data collection and analysis, to include appropriate statistical tests. They will also learn strategies to manage bias and assess the quality of published research.

Students will apply their learning in small groups to develop a protocol for an allocated research question, for which they will receive constructive and academic feedback.

The last date for receipt of complete applications is 5pm Friday 10th November 2023. Regrettably, late applications cannot be accepted.

This course will enable students to:

  • Describe in detail different types of research methodologies;
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the different study designs;
  • Assess whether research studies are using the most appropriate study design;
  • Discuss why various approaches may be appropriate/ inappropriate for their work-based research question.

Statistical Analysis

  • Describe methodologies that are used to investigate the effects of health care interventions;
  • Have a basic understanding of the approaches to statistical analysis that can be used with these methodologies;
  • Develop an understanding of the types of approaches that can be used for statistical analysis in each type of study design.

Protocol Development

  • Identify various facets that form a successful research protocol, for different types of health research;
  • List some of the challenges of preparing a research protocol, and develop strategies for addressing them.

Core Reading

  • Epidemiological Studies: A Practical Guide - by Alan J. Silman and Gary J. Macfarlane

Comments from previous participants:

"This is a good course for bringing together a wide range of practical and theoretical expertise for dealing with research related topics."

Programme details

This module is run over an eight week cycle where the first week is spent working on introductory activities using a Virtual Learning Environment, the second week is spent in Oxford for the face to face teaching week (this takes place on the dates advertised), there are then four Post-Oxford activities (delivered through the VLE) which are designed to help you write your assignment. You then have a week of personal study and you will be required to submit your assignment electronically the following week (usually on a Tuesday at 14:00 UK Local Time).


Description Costs
New students enrolled on MSc in EBHC £2340.00
New Students enrolled on PG Cert/Dip in Health Research £2340.00
Short Course in Health Sciences £2890.00


Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our financial assistance page.


If you are an employee of the University of Oxford and have a valid University staff card you may be eligible to receive a 10% discount on the full stand-alone fee. To take advantage of this offer please submit a scan/photocopy of your staff card along with your application. Your card should be valid for a further six months after attending the course.


Prof Clare Bankhead

Module Coordinator

Clare Bankhead is a Professor at the Nuffield Department for Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford.

Dr Susannah Fleming

Co Module Coordinator

Susannah Fleming is a Senior Quantatitive Researcher at the Nuffield Department for Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford

Dr Subhashisa Swain

Co Module Coordinator

Subhashisa Swain is a Quantitative Researcher.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be based on submission of a written assignment which should not exceed 4,000 words.

Academic Credit

Applicants may take this course for academic credit. The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for this course. Participants attending at least 80% of the taught course and successfully completing assessed assignments are eligible to earn credit equivalent to 20 CATS points which may be counted towards a postgraduate qualification.

Applicants can choose not to take the course for academic credit and will therefore not be eligible to undertake the academic assignment offered to students taking the course for credit. Applicants cannot receive CATS (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme) points or equivalence. Credit cannot be attributed retrospectively. CATS accreditation is required if you wish for the course to count towards a further qualification in the future.

A Certificate of Completion is issued at the end of the course.

Applicants registered to attend ‘not for credit’ who subsequently wish to register for academic credit and complete the assignment are required to submit additional information, which must be received one calendar month in advance of the course start date. Please contact us for more details.

Please contact if you have any questions.


This course requires you to complete the application form and to attach a copy of your CV. If you are applying to take this course for academic credit you will also be required to provide a reference. Please note that if you are not applying to take the course for academic credit then you do not need to submit a reference.

Please ensure you read the guidance notes which appear when you click on the symbols as you progress through the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application.

Selection criteria

Admissions Criteria:
To apply for the course you should:

  • Be a graduate or have successfully completed a professional training course
  • Have professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field
  • Be able to combine intensive classroom learning with the application of the principles and practices of evidence-based health care within the work place
  • Have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration)
  • Show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and an employer's commitment to make time available to study, complete course work and attend course and university events and modules.
  • Be able to demonstrate English Language proficiency at the University’s higher level


Accommodation is available at the Rewley House Residential Centre, within the Department for Continuing Education, in central Oxford. The comfortable, en-suite, study-bedrooms have been rated as 4-Star Campus accommodation under the Quality In Tourism scheme, and come with tea- and coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi access and Freeview TV. Guests can take advantage of the excellent dining facilities and common room bar, where they may relax and network with others on the programme.

IT requirements

Please ensure that you have access to a computer that meets the specifications detailed on our technical support page.