UCL Medical School


Writing a Research Proposal for Clinical and Professional Education

Module Overview

As evidence-based approaches to medical and clinical education have expanded so too has the need for professionals to critically analyse their own practice. This module will prepare students to develop the skills necessary to undertake a research project relevant to their own clinical and educational environment . This module provides students with the opportunity to critically analyse different research methodologies relevant to their areas of practice. They will also appraise the academic literature in order to develop an evidence-based approach to increase professional effectiveness in medical and health education fields.

The module provides the opportunity to develop a research project proposal from an ‘insider perspective’ in medical and clinical education. Students will be able to produce a research proposal that uses any methodological approach, but the focus of this module will be on qualitative research approaches appropriate to medical and clinical educational contexts.  Students will be expected to present an outline of their initial formative ideas for their research proposal to an online peer group discussion forum during the online teaching period of the module.

An emphasis will be placed on exploring the implications of professional values and ethics in research in medical education and education for the health professions. In addition, students will develop essential competence in completing an application for appropriate ethical approval.
Online study of key areas of project proposal development will provide the framework for this module and will include:

  • Social science perspectives on methodology – including phenomenological approaches; the ontology and epistemology of research approaches and ‘insider research’ / ‘real world research’ / practitioner research’ in particular.
  • Development of the research problem / statement
  • Development of the research question(s) and/or hypotheses
  • Exploration of issues in research design (including possible stakeholder involvement), including research methodologies – phenomenology; ethnography; case-study; quasi-experimental research
  • Critical analysis and identification of the best available literature and research evidence to support the research problem and questions.
  • Development of a parallel ethical proposal in anticipation of future process of relevant Ethics Committee submission.


The module aims to enable students to develop a research project proposal relevant to medical and clinical education.

Module Learning Outcomes

Participants will develop knowledge, skills and understanding that will enable them to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the principles and methodologies of managing a research project applied in the context of the student’s own educational and clinical practice
  • Review and critically evaluate best available evidence relevant to a specified area of professional practice, synthesising information from key sources and literature searches, assessing the literature for validity and relevance using a recognised appraisal tool.
  • Critically evaluate and appraise quantitative and qualitative research strategies, and consider the application of each to addressing different research questions in the professional and clinical environment.
  • Demonstrate an ability to reflect on the ethical aspects of research, and to compile a formal application, comprising a research project proposal and ethics approval form, for later consideration by UCL Research Ethics Committee, or other ethics committee, as required by the student’s employing organization e.g. NHS.

Mode of Delivery

This module will be delivered entirely through a Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle). This approach combines educational methods that encourage self-directed learning, reflection on personal experience, critical thinking and access to extensive online resources. This will enable students to engage in collaborative learning and to be in regular contact with module tutors for a high level of academic support.

Participants will work through course materials and readings, undertake directed learning activities and participate in a two week asynchronous virtual seminar. This will build the foundations for their written assignments. Each teaching block will last 8 or 9 weeks comprising of:

  • An online introduction providing the background learning objectives of the module
  • Two to three week period of individual study with set texts for reading and structured learning activities
  • Two week period of online interaction through an asynchronous virtual seminar held between small groups of students (5-15) and a tutor in an online forum
  • Three week period of individual study to prepare their essay-style assignment

This course will be facilitated by UCL teaching staff with regular opportunities to provide support and feedback on teaching delivery.

Participants will also complete a written piece of work that is based on one of the areas highlighted in the module that has significance in their own practice as a medical educator.

Teaching dates 2017/18

This module runs once a year (subject to a minimum of 10 students) in the following teaching block:

Teaching BlockStartEnd Assignment due dateClosing date for applications
Block 1Monday 9 October 2017Friday 1 December 2017Thursday 25 January 201831 July 2017

If you have any queries please contact uclms.postgraduate@ucl.ac.uk.

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