SGLK15004U  Health Research Methodology

Volume 2017/2018

MSc Programme in Global Health - compulsory


The course introduces the principal theoretical and methodological approaches used in global health research; with a focus on quantitative and qualitative research methods, as well as methods for undertaking systematic reviews. The aim is to develop the ability of the student to critically assess and apply the appropriate method(s) for addressing specific research questions in global health, while at the same time respecting international and national regulations, declarations and ethics in global health research.

Teaching in quantitative methods will build on the student’s pre-requisite knowledge of the basic principles of statistics and epidemiology. The course will cover methods for primary (field-based) and secondary data collection - including definition of variables; target populations; sampling; sample size calculation; and questionnaire design. Central issues on data management, analyses and validation using statistical software (such as SPSS) are also covered during the course.

Teaching in qualitative methods will build on the student’s pre-requisite knowledge of the basic characteristics and methods of qualitative research and provide insight into different approaches to qualitative research, e.g. ethnography. The course covers theoretical and analytical conceptualization of qualitative research, development of research tools and introduction to different approaches to analysis and application or development of theory.

The course will provide an introduction to the mixed methods approach in terms of the rationale for use, common procedures, and limitations.

Selected types of literature review will be covered. Specifically, the basic methodological approach to systematic reviews of health interventions is introduced, including search strategies for secondary data; pre-determined inclusion criteria for eligibility and quality of identified data; specification of outcomes and indicators; as well as narrative and statistical data analysis (including meta-analysis).

In addition, the course covers the basic principles and statutes on research ethics addressing the considerations and challenges of ensuring good research practice at each of the main stages of the research process.

The course will present an opportunity to work in cross-disciplinary project teams and consciously develop skills in maintaining an effective team work process. In an integrated approach, the students will develop their competencies in constructive research-related communication and in providing feedback to peers and team members.

Learning Outcome


On completion of the course, the students should be able to:

  • Explain and discuss the theoretical basis for qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods research

  • Identify and discuss the concept and role of pre-understanding in research

  • Identify relevant research questions in global health

  • Demonstrate knowledge of general concepts, ethical considerations and methods used when addressing research problems
  • Demonstrate knowledge of important steps and processes in developing a research proposal and of central quality criteria in qualitative and quantitative research



On completion of the course, the students should be able to:

  • Design a feasible and ethical research study in global health

  • Determine  research questions, study objectives and select appropriate research method(s)

  • Plan, collect, manage and analyse qualitative and quantitative health related research data and materials

  • Ensure respect for and protection of human research subjects

  • Address study limitations and interpret and communicate research findings

  • Contribute constructive to peer-review


  • Competencies

On completion of the course, the students should be able to:

  • Critically evaluate, validate and discuss existing scientific literature and data

  • Differentiate between various research study designs and methods

  • Carry out and coordinate scientifically valid research

  • Increase knowledge in particular problem areas or issues of global health

  • Contribute to a constructive and effective team process within an international environment

  • Based on the knowledge and skills above, to demonstrate competence in open and constructive communication in the team work process and in provision and reception of feedback from peers and academic staff


Primarily research papers and chapters from selected methodology books

Must hold a bachelor degree in a relevant scientific discipline, including 5 ECTS course work in qualitative and quantitative research methodology, respectively
Must hold a bachelor degree in a relevant scientific discipline, including 5 ECTS course work in qualitative and quantitative research methodology, respectively
The teaching methods will include a combination of formal lectures, class and group exercises, online quizzes as well as problem-based learning, using research-based case studies.
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
The length of the written take-home assignment must be max 10 pages (24000 words/ 2400 per page ), excl. cover page, table of contents, list of references and appendices.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period


Criteria for exam assesment


  • Identify and discuss the theoretical basis for research, and relevant research problems based on a critical evaluation of own pre-understanding, available scientific literature and data within the field of global health. This includes the evaluation of systematic reviews with an emphasis on health interventions of global health relevance.



  • Formulate specific research questions and objectives to be addressed within the framework of a mixed methods research project
  • Determine appropriate study designs and critically discuss relevant quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods that align with these designs.



  • Apply knowledge of general concepts for ensuring good academic and research practice including the key concept in research ethics.
  • Synthesise all of the above into a coherent research proposal adhering to the conventional structures of research literature.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 48
  • Exercises
  • 16
  • Study Groups
  • 15
  • Preparation
  • 71
  • Exam
  • 56
  • Total
  • 206