Masters in Health Research (online)

MRes, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate


There is an increasing need for health professionals to be directly or indirectly involved with a range of research, evaluation, clinical audit and quality improvement activities as part of their practice.  Current policy and practice developments are also placing greater emphasis on the Clinical Academic Career pathway and there are now many health professionals with a clinical/practice and research focus to their roles. These developments point to the need for rigorous, high-quality interdisciplinary and flexible research programmes to prepare health professionals for these challenging and rewarding roles.

The MRes Health Research provides this. There is a strong emphasis placed on the application of knowledge and skills. The course can be taken as an advanced qualification in its own right or as excellent preparation for doctoral level study. Students can choose to study for a postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or Master's degree. Stand-alone modules are also available for those interested in Continuing Professional Development.

The course has been designed to suit students from a range of backgrounds. Most students (and graduates) have a health professional qualification e.g. nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, occupational therapy. Other students are from the social care or research sectors. Our students are from across the UK and overseas as online study offers flexibility around their work and family commitments.

1st for Research


The School of Health Sciences placed 1st in Scotland and 12th in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, showcasing our commitment to producing world-leading research which improves the health of people in Scotland and reduces health inequalities through impact on policy and practice.


The course has been recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as meeting its requirements for postgraduate research training.

Fully funded places are available through the ESRC, details can be found here on the pages of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science website.

Key information

  • Degree type: MRes, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Study methods: Online, Full-time, Part-time
  • Duration: Full-time, 12 months (September starts only) Part-time, 2, 3 or 4 years.
  • Start date: Part-time: September and January. Full-time route: September start date onlyStand-alone modules: most modules are available as Continuing Professional Development starting in September or January. *Please note that full-time route is not advised for those that are in full-time employment.
  • Course Director: Dr Fiona Harris

CPD Coordinator School of Health Sciences
University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA
Scotland UK
+44 (0) 1786 466 336

View fees and finance
  1. This MRes has been designed to be suitable for both novice and experienced researchers. No matter what your level of expertise may be, we will equip you with the necessary knowledge and abilities to become successfully employed as a Researcher or enrolled as a PhD student.
  2. Our MRes has an interdisciplinary focus, teaching both practical and theoretical skills. A varied choice of modules are used to develop a critical understanding of research methods and their application to health research.
  3. Students are given the opportunity to undertake a research placement based (either virtually or on campus) with world class research teams working on live projects. Placements in the School of Health Sciences include the Institute of Social Marketing and the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU). A number of staff contributing to MRes as either lecturers, placement mentors or dissertation supervisors are based in the NMAHP RU, which is a national research unit core funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government.
  4. The online learning design of our programme allows learners to study wherever and whenever suits them – from anywhere in the world, allowing you to fit study around your personal and professional life. The blended option benefits learners who would prefer an element of face-to-face interaction with MRes staff and peers.
  5. Our research training meets the criteria for accreditation from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) signifying our excellence in researcher training and development. As such, prospective students are eligible for the 1+3 studentship providing you with funding for a one year research training master's linked to a three year PhD.

Course objectives

The MRes Health Research develops skilled and knowledgeable multi-disciplinary health care researchers, able to understand and confidently use research techniques appropriate to their practice/subject area. Helping students to become conversant with approaches used by other social and healthcare researchers is also key as well as developing practical research skills.

The course builds capacity and capability in individuals, and the healthcare workforce more generally, by promoting lifelong learning. It supports those who wish to access a range of research career pathways, and/or further research training by advancing knowledge, research and practice in different settings. There is a focus on both skills, experience and an emphasis on proactive team and network collaborations.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

Learn more

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Live Life

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.  Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.



2016/17 Overseas 20 credit module -  £1,385
2016/17 Home/EU 20 credit module -  £500
2015/16 Overseas 20 credit module -  £1,320
2015/16 Home/EU 20 credit module -  £500


 2016/17 Overseas 20 credit module - £800
 2016/17 Home/EU 20 credit module - £500
2015/16 Overseas  20 credit module - £755
2015/16 Home/EU  20 credit module -  £500

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

Scholarship finder

Scholarships & funding

Information on possible sources of funding

Fully funded places are available through the ESRC, details can be found on the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science website.

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The MRes Health Research has an interdisciplinary framework drawing on the expertise of researchers and practitioners from many different fields in nursing, midwifery, the allied health professions, public health and social science.

Unusually in health science courses, this multi-disciplinary MRes develops practical and transferable skills, e.g. report writing; team working; literature searching and critical appraisal. We also collaborate online including using virtual classroom technologies (Blackboard Collaborate). The course combines high quality with flexibility and choice. Practical experience and enhanced employability is another important focus, with the opportunity for a research placement offered to all MRes students. The exploration of new and innovative methods is a core feature of the course, with flexibility in course design ensuring an individualised, bespoke learning experience.

The modules taken will differ slightly depending on the student's learning needs.  Examples of our current modules are:

  • Skills for Knowledge Enquiry
  • Qualitative Research and Analysis
  • Quantitative Research and Analysis
  • Research Ethics and Governance
  • Study Design in Practice
  • Research in Practice
  • Health Research Dissertation

Each module runs once a year and is delivered in either the Autumn Semester or Spring Semester.  Health research placements for the Research in Practice modules are opportunities for students to experience real life research in action.  Students are allocated to a research mentor in the School to work on live research project study. Placements can be campus-based or remote working ones.

Students need to complete 6 x 20 credit modules and a 60 credit dissertation to complete the Masters Programme.  Full-time students will be expected to take 12 months to complete this work. Part-time students usually take two or three years.  The Post Graduate Diploma can be awarded with 120 credits and the Post Graduate Certificate can be awarded with 60 credits.

The MRes in Health Research has been running successfully since 2010 – our graduates have come from all across the UK and overseas and from various backgrounds e.g. health care, social work, health promotion, social science etc.

Delivery and assessment

Students can study remotely from wherever they live at times that suit them.  Online learning is flexible and can be fitted around your work and family commitments.  Online students are expected to participate in virtual classes however, these sessions are usually optional.  Interactive online teaching sessions are delivered in the evenings – UK time.  These sessions are usually recorded so those who cannot attend can listen to the session later on.

Students who would like more face-to-face ‘real world’ learning can opt for online blended learning.  Basically, they study the online modules with their peers but can choose to come to the Stirling campus for monthly ‘MRes Meet Ups’ - informal sessions where students meet their peers and MRes staff.  Other researchers in the School come to these sessions to talk about their research.  Students wanting online blended learning can choose a campus based research placement they can also opt for campus based dissertation supervision.  Those opting for online blended learning can also attend campus based seminars delivered from Schools across the University.

Note: As of September 2015 the MRes (Health) will no longer be Tier 4 compliant with non-EU international visa requirements.  We welcome international students on our online programme.  International students with the relevant student visa can also choose to undertake a campus based research placement.

If you are applying now for September 2015 – please note the website shows a campus based programme route, this programme option is being withdrawn.  Students can only opt for an online programme – either fully online or online blended.

Learning, teaching and assessment strategies

A variety of learning experiences and assessment tasks will stimulate interest, encourage participation and develop transferable skills, including:

  • Advanced literature searching and annotation
  • Designing research projects individually and as part of a team
  • Creating funding proposals and ethics applications
  • Writing research papers for submission to journals
  • Data analysis exercises
  • Verbal presentations
  • Viva (oral examinations)

Awards: It will be possible to exit the course with a Post Graduate Certificate in Health Research, a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Research or a Master’s in Health Research, depending on the number of modules undertaken and credits awarded.



  • Complete all six modules and the dissertation for the Masters award.
  • Postgraduate Diploma - choose 120 credits
  • Postgraduate Certificate - choose 60 credits


NURP001/NURP002 - Skills for Knowledge Enquiry (20 credits SCQF level 11)
The module will provide participants with an opportunity to consider the theory and practice of healthcare research e.g. students will be expected to demonstrate the acquisition of key research skills such as literature searching and apply those skills to their own area of practice. Find out more.
NURP003/NURP004 - Qualitative Research and Analysis (20 credits SCQF level 11)
This module provides an advanced introduction to Qualitative Research methods, which are widely applicable and transferable to a range of occupational settings, with particular reference to health and social care research. Students are introduced to some basic philosophical concepts that underpin qualitative approaches, provided with an overview of data collection techniques and given practical training in qualitative analysis using QSR NVivo software. Find out more.
NURP005/NURP006 - Quantitative Research and Analysis (20 credits SCQF level 11)
The module aims to develop students’ understanding of the theoretical ideas behind quantitative research and applicability of these methods to their own work. It provides applied experience of organising data and undertaking quantitative analysis using statistical software SPSS. Students will be able decide which statistical test to use and critically evaluate results of analysis performed in SPSS. Find out more.
NURP007 - Research Ethics and Governance (20 credits SCQF level 11)
The module will provide you with an opportunity to consider the application of legal, regulatory and ethical requirements in health care research. You will consider how such principles apply in your own area of practice. Find out more.
NURP008 - Study Design in Practice (20 credits SCQF level 11)
In this module students will study different study designs that have been introduced in other modules in more depth, with an emphasis on applying them in practice; considering practical challenges and the use of relevant tools to carry out research studies successfully. You will also develop your presentation skills and use of innovative technology. Find out more.
NURP009/NURP010 - Research in Practice (20 credits SCQF level 11)
This module will give you experience of working in a research team and with a dedicated mentor on a real project. You will be matched to a placement that suits your interests and needs. You will identify learning goals and will be involved in the detailed planning of the bespoke placement experience. Find out more.
NURP050/NURP051 - Health Research Dissertation (60 credits SCQF level 11)
The Health Research Dissertation module prepares and supports students to develop and apply research skills and knowledge. The Health Research Dissertation module complements and further develops other modules in the programme specifically building on elements previously taught to allow integration and consolidation. Students undertake a systematic literature review or develop a research grant proposal. Find out more. Find out more.

Modes of study

We have a virtual learning environment where students can access module reading, podcasts of lectures and other educational resources.  We also have a virtual online classroom where we can ‘real time’ teach e.g. with interactive seminars, online team-working and skills development sessions.  This enables students to study with us from virtually anywhere in the world.  

Why Stirling?


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

Our research is world class and is recognised for its quality and innovation. We are the premier school for health sciences research in Scotland.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014):

The School of Health Sciences came top for health research in Scotland and was ranked 12th in the UK overall;


  • Our research environment is outstanding and was rated as top-equal in the UK;
  • Overall nearly half of our research activity was rated as 4* placing us top in Scotland and 9th in the UK;
  • Nearly 90% of our peer-reviewed research papers were rated as being of international significance.


We are a new School and will continue to build our capacity to deliver high quality research which improves the health of people in Scotland and reduce health inequalities through its impact on policy and practice.


In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 20 percent of research in Nursing, Midwifery & Health was described as ‘World-leading’ and a further 65 percent as of ‘International Significance’, placing us firmly as the leading nursing and midwifery department in Scotland, and one of the top ten in the UK.

Staff in our Research Centres and courses are keen to work with MRes students to meet identified learning goals in both research dissertation and placement activities through active mentoring and supervision. For further information about our Research Centres and courses, visit:

Our students

What our graduates say:

The MRes has an interdisciplinary focus and a varied choice of modules to develop critical understanding of different methodologies of research. The flexibility of the course design is enabling me to undertake a research placement in the Western Isles which will complement the theoretical understanding of taught research methods.

The use of WebCT (now called Succeed) is such a beneficial tool to enhance learning opportunities. It facilitates access to electronic library resources, lectures etc. Excellent support is offered to MRes students from a team of highly motivated and enthusiastic teaching staff. I am finding the course to be both stimulating and challenging. As well as hoping to achieve the formal qualification my current future career plans include embracing the challenges of the rigours of health research. On a personal note, I was born in Airthrey Castle, one of the first NHS maternity hospitals, which is situated in the beautiful grounds of the campus.

Seonaid McKay MRes student

What I'm enjoying most is the focus on very practical skills. The taught theory is immediately put into practice by having to submit very realistic pieces of work, sometimes with very tight deadlines, which are as close as you'll get to actual research. The optional placement is a chance to practice skills in a live situation, working with skilled research teams or individuals. The Stirling campus is a thriving research community that sits comfortably within the academic setting, you have access to a range of very skilled people who can provide guidance and advice. I didn’t really know what to expect from the MRes but engaging in learning at this level, in what seems like a short space of time, has revealed a lot about my own abilities. I've surprised myself in how capable I am and that a lot of skills I already have are transferable into this type of work.

Stephen Heller-Murphy, MRes student

I decided to apply for the MRes in Health Research as I felt it is a natural progression from the Honours programme. The additional learning will help to underpin my practice and I feel, make me a better practitioner. I am naturally analytical and hope to be able to build on these skills to provide a more meaningful service to our clients in the future. I see research as a way to identify how we can improve the service we provide within the National Health Service by providing evidence-based practice and including the client's perspective of the service they receive. The benefit of the MRes course is that it is a multi-disciplinary course which means that a variety of opinions and experiences are shared and this has helped me to consider situations from other health and social care professionals perspectives as well as from a nursing perspective.

I also hope that this course will help me to broaden my knowledge base in that I will be carrying out research relating to other disciplines within health and social care provision as well as within my own.

Lynne Black, MRes student

I undertook the MRes as a full-time, campus-based international student. I can say that decision was the most important one for my career.

The MRes is based on learning by doing - there is not a greater opportunity to learn research if you do not go for it! And this happens when undertaking the dissertation and placement modules as well as when writing and presenting realistic pieces of work for each module. After the completion of the MRes I feel very confident of the practical and theoretical qualifications I have acquired. I also had the chance to experience remote collaboration in the MRes. This was a helpful experience firstly because it is very realistic nowadays that everybody might be based in a different country, and secondly, because it puts no limits to the choice of the members of the research group!

Through the whole process of the dissertation I had the opportunity to get the sense of real research and to put into practice the research plan and the ideas I had when I decided to do the MRes. I had the opportunity to work as a researcher on my own ideas. Furthermore, my dissertation gave me the opportunity to feel, enjoy and experience research from A to Z. You pass through the process of writing a proposal, acquiring ethics approval, doing the research and writing your paper. It was a very good experience for research students and a very useful one for those who want to continue for a PhD.

The MRes people are very supportive and motivated. It is not unusual that you will meet for a coffee to discuss ideas, issues etc.  All kind of facilities are provided (library, IT service, Succeed: a program that has all the course materials available electronically). It is very well organised!

It was truly the best year of my life! Apart for becoming better in an academic level, I also broadened my horizons meeting people from all over the world, collaborating with them and experienced new life styles, attitudes, customs and way of thinking. I am thankful for all of these!

Anthoula, International MRes student 2012-13

I applied to study for the Master of Research in Health Research chiefly because my work experience and career plan aligns with what the course offers. The modules and teaching approaches offered by the University of Stirling through the School of Health Sciences seemed like the perfect fit for me because the programme greatly improved my previous knowledge and subsequently Job skills. The knowledge gained and applied where I currently work has earned me employer’s recognition and promotion.

The flexibility to study virtually and remotely from Nigeria, the affordable tuitions fees and payment options and the internationally recognised institution were the selling points upon which my choice was founded. 

During my course work, I received sound teaching and unequalled mentoring from my lecturers, the informal access to them was so helpful because sometimes I miss formal sessions. During my dissertation I also received excellent supervision and I was fully included in all aspects of academic life, from teaching to research placements. I really enjoyed the great sense of community even though we all had cultural differences.

My academic journey through the University of Stirling is an experience I will relish for the rest of my life.

Samuel O Ikani, MRes (Health) Graduate, 2014


Careers and employability

Career opportunities

The MRes Health Research is designed for students who wish to pursue a variety of different careers in health where research is a core component and who wish to make a contribution to applied research in a range of contemporary health and social contexts. Most of our students are employed as health professionals whilst they study part-time with us. When they complete their studies most students will stay in their clinical speciality but use their enhanced research skills/knowledge in their roles e.g. by conducting their own research or service evaluations. Other students wish to use their Masters study as preparation for a PhD.  Our students have been very successful in gaining recognition for their research work and for winning funding for PhD study.


The majority of our students are already working in health or social care prior to commencement and remain employed throughout the duration of their studies.

Our students develop a wide range of transferable skills during their study that make them attractive to other employers e.g. team working; IT skills; literature searching; critical appraisal; presentation skills; writing and data analysis. Many of our students use the MRes as preparation for PhD studies.  The MRes has ESRC approval as part of the 1 + 3 years PhD schemes.

Industry connections

The MRes team consists of experienced health professionals and social scientists. Through their work they collaborate with various national and international bodies.

Online application process

Please choose a start date and study method from the drop-down list below, and click the Apply Now button below to begin the online application process. (Please make sure you have consulted the Postgraduate Study pages on the University website and the Online Application Guidance Notes before continuing).

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