Health Research - Masters

Study Masters Health Research

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Health Research - Masters
  • Type Online, Full-time, Part-time, Campus based
  • Start date Part-time: September and January - see Full time route: September (campus and online students).Stand-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.

CPD Coordinator Nursing, Midwifery & Health,
University of Stirling,
Stirling FK9 4LA
Scotland UK
+44 (0) 1786 466 336

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 with most choosing to study remotely online as that offers flexibility around their work and family commitments.

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, for example, in user involvement and the use of new technologies.

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 and experience concurrently and an emphasis on proactive team and network collaborations.

Entrance 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 provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (6.0 in all bands).

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.

Our range of pre-sessional courses.

Modes of study

Online or campus-based learning. 

Online students are expected to participate in virtual classes however, these sessions are usually optional.  Online teaching sessions are delivered in the evenings – UK time.  Online teaching sessions are often recorded so those who cannot attend are able to listen to the session later on.  Campus based students are expected to attend lectures and seminars delivered at the University during the daytime.  Some campus based students opt for blended learning whereby they may study some online modules in addition to their campus ones.

Course start date

Part-time: September and January - see semester dates
Full time route: September (campus and online students).
Stand-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.

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 and public health.

Unusual in healthcare 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 either a ten or 20-day research placement offered to all MRes students. The exploration of new and innovative methods is a core feature of the course, with optionality and flexibility in course design ensuring an individualised, bespoke learning experience.

The modules taken will differ slightly depending on whether a student is taking the campus-based or online/distance learning route of the course.  Examples of our modules are:

  • The Practice of Health Research 1 and 2
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative Research
  • Research Ethics and Governance
  • Public Health Approaches
  • Health Research Placement

Each module runs once a year and is delivered in either the Autumn Semester or Spring Semester.  Health research placements are opportunities for students to experience real life research in action.  Students are allocated to a research mentor in the School to work on an actual study. Placements can be campus-based or remote working ones. There is also an opportunity for students to create bespoke placements (these are subject to agreement with School staff) for example perhaps working with their employer.

Full-time students will be expected to take 12 months to complete the MRes course. Part-time students are expected to take two or three years. The expected study route for full-time students is 4 x 15 credits modules per semester and part-time students is 2 x 15 credits per semester.

Delivery and assessment

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 Postgraduate Certificate in Health Research, a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Research or a Master’s in Health Research, depending on the number of modules undertaken and credits awarded.

Module titles

Academic Year 2014/15

Online-students will usually take the following modules (four for full-time students, two for part-time students):

Autumn Semester:

  • Practice of Health Research 1
  • Research Ethics and Governance
  • Quantitative Research
  • Qualitative Research

Spring Semester:

  • Practice of Health Research 2
  • Public Health
  • Research Placement (double module)


  • Dissertation (this module will span two semesters for full-time students and three semesters for part-time students)

Campus-based students will usually take the following modules (four for full-time students, two for part-time students):

Autumn Semester:

  • Practice of Health Research 1
  • Research Design and Process*
  • Quantitative Data Analysis *
  • Qualitative Data Analysis*

Spring Semester:

  • Practice of Health Research 2
  • Public Health Approaches or The Nature of Inquiry*
  • Research Placement (double module)


  • Dissertation (this module will span two semesters for full-time students and three semesters for part-time students)

*These modules are delivered by the School of Applied Social Science

Academic Year 2015/16

We are currently reviewing the curricula for 2015/16.

Why study Health Research - Masters at Stirling?

Course Director

Dr Nicola Ring

RAE rating

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


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.

Industry connections

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



2016/17 Overseas PG Cert - £4,150 PG Dip - £8,300 MRes - £12,450
2016/17 Home/EU PG Cert - £1,500 PG Dip - £3,000 MRes - £4500
2015/16 Overseas PG Cert - £3,967 PG Dip - £7,933 MRes - £11,900
2015/16 Home/EU PG Cert - £1,500 PG Dip - £3,000 MRes - £4500
2014/15 Overseas PG Cert - £3,630 PG Dip - £7,270 MRes - £11,400
2014/15 Home/EU PG Cert - £1,330 PG Dip - £2,670 MRes - £4000


 2016/17 Overseas PG Cert - £2,400 PG Dip - £4,800 MRes - £7,200
 2016/17 Home/EU PG Cert - £1,500 PG Dip - £3,000 MRes - £4,500
2015/16 Overseas PG Cert - £2,260 PG Dip - £4,520 MRes - £6,780
2015/16 Home/EU PG Cert - £1,500 PG Dip - £3,000 MRes - £4,500
2014/15 Overseas PG Cert - £1,330 PG Dip - £2,670 MRes - £4000
2014/15 Home/EU PG Cert - £1,340 PG Dip - £2,670 MRes - £4000

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.


information on possible sources of funding