Health Research (Online)

MRes, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate

The University of Stirling is ranked 1st in Scotland and top 15 in the UK for Health Sciences (Research Excellence Framework 2014).

98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16).


There is an increasing need for research in the health sector, and increasingly health professionals are required to conduct 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 on 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 diverse range of disciplinary backgrounds. Many students (and graduates) have a health professional qualification e.g. nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, occupational therapy. Other students come from natural sciences, social science and may have worked within the third sector. Our students are from across the UK and overseas as online study offers flexibility around their work and family commitments.

1st for Research


In the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport came top for health research in Scotland and was ranked 12th in the UK overall, showcasing our commitment to producing world-leading research which improves the health of people in Scotland and reduces health inequalities through an impact on policy and practice.

The course meets the training requirements of the ESRC for the 1+3 awards.

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

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MRes, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Study methods: Online, Full-time, Part-time
  • Duration: Full Time - 12 months Part Time - 2, 3 or 4 years
  • Start date:

    17th September 2018        



    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.

  • Course Director: Fiona Harris
Download postgraduate prospectus

CPD / Postgraduate Taught Team

Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport
University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA

  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 prepare for a career in research or to undertake a PhD.
  2. Our MRes has an interdisciplinary focus, teaching both practical and theoretical skills. The varied choice of modules is 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 Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport also include the Institute of Social Marketing and the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU).
  4. Online learning 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 requirements for ESRC 1+3 awards.  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. 

The course 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

Library shelves

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.

Watch our videos now

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.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email to discuss your course of study.

Fees and costs

2017/18 Overseas 20 credit module - £840
2017/18 Home/EU 20 credit module - £512
2018/19 Overseas 20 credit module - £840
2018/19 Home/EU 20 credit module - £522


Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

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.

Scholarship finder

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 of nursing, midwifery, the allied health professions, public health and social science.

This multi-disciplinary MRes develops practical and transferable skills, including report writing; team working; literature searching and critical appraisal as well as both qualitative and quantitative approaches to study design and analysis. Practical experience and enhanced employability are another important focus. 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

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 can complete the course in two, three or four years.  

Delivery and assessment

The course is delivered allowing students to 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.  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 looking for face-to-face contact can attend optional monthly 'MRes meet ups' which are held at the Stirling campus. These informal sessions allow students to meet with peers and MRes staff. Guest researchers also attend sessions to talk about their research.

Please note: This course is not 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.


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
  • Creating funding proposals and ethics applications
  • Writing research papers for submission to journals
  • Data analysis exercises
  • Verbal presentations

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- 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 and methodology, with particular reference to health and social care research. Students are introduced to philosophical concepts that underpin qualitative approaches 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/NURP052 - 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.  

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

Full-time 1 year (Autumn entry)

Year of Study Semester Module Credits
1 Autumn NURP001 Skills for Knowledge Enquiry 20
NURP003 Qualitiative Design and Analysis 20
NURP005 Quantitative Design and Analysis 20
Spring NURP007 Research Ethics and Governance 20
NURP008 Study Design in Practice 20
NURP009 Research in Practice 20
Summer NURP050 Health Research Dissertation 60


Part-time 2 years (Autumn Entry)

Year of study Semester Module Code Credits
1 Autumn NURP001 Skills for Knowledge Enquiry 20
NURP003 Qualitative Design and Analysis OR NURP005 Quantitative Design and Analysis 20
Spring NURP007 Research Ethics and Governance 20
NURP008 Study Design in Practice 20
2 Autumn NURP009 Research in Practice 20
NURP005 Quantitative Design and Analysis OR NURP003 Qualitative Design and Analysis 20
Spring NURP051 Health Research Dissertation (commence) -
Summer NURP051 Health Research Dissertation (complete) 60


Part-time 3 Years (Autumn entry)

Year of Study Semester Module Code Credits
1 Autumn

NURP001 Skills for Knowledge Enquiry 20
NURP004 Qualitative Design and Analysis (commence) OR NURP006 Quantitative Design and Analysis (commence) -

NURP008 Study Design in Practice 20
NURP004 Qualitative Design and Analysis (complete) OR NURP006 Quantitative Design and Analysis (complete) 20
2 Autumn NURP005 Quantitative Design and Analysis OR NURP003 Qualitative Design and Analysis 20
Spring NURP007 Research Ethics and Governance 20
NURP010 Research in Practice (commence) -
Summer NURP010 Research in Practice (complete) 20
3 Autumn NURP051 Health Research Dissertation (commence) -
Spring NURP051 Health Research Dissertation (complete) 60


Part-Time 4 years (Autumn Entry)

Year of study Semester Module Credits
1 Autumn NURP001 Skills for Knowledge Enquiry 20
Spring NURP008 Study Design in Practice 20
2 Autumn NURP003 Qualitative Design and Analysis OR NURP005 Quantitative Design and Analysis 20
Spring NURP007 Research Ethics and Governance 20
3 Autumn NURP005 Quantitative Design and Analysis OR NURP003 Qualitative Design and Analysis 20
Spring NURP009 Research in Practice 20
4 Autumn NURP051 Health Research Dissertation (commence) -
Spring NURP051 Health Research Dissertation (complete) 60

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.

1st for Research


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

In the research assessment exercise REF2014: 

  • The Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport 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 Faculty and will continue to build our capacity to deliver high-quality research which improves the health of people in Scotland and reduces 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:

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .

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 Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport 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.


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16

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.

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
Portal Logon