SGLK15004U Health Research Methodology

Volume 2015/2016

MSc Programme in Global Health - compulsory


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

Teaching in quantitative methods will build on the student’s pre-requisite knowledge of the basic principles of statistics. The course will cover methods for primary 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 (e.g. SPSS) are also covered during the course.

Teaching in qualitative methods will build on the student’s existing knowledge of the basic concepts of anthropological and sociological research. In addition, application of qualitative research methods in communication studies and political science related to global health will be taught. The course covers the principal methods for primary (field-based) data collection including focus group discussions; key informant interviews; participant observation and oral history. Central issues on data management and qualitative content analysis are also covered.

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

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. An introduction to good clinical and laboratory practice and quality assurance will be given; as well as patients’ rights and privacy issues in relation to health and health research.



Learning Outcome


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

  • Identify relevant research problems in global health
  • Demonstrate knowledge of general concepts, ethical considerations and methods used when addressing research problems



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



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 a particular problem area or issue of global health
The teaching methods will include a combination of formal lectures, class and group exercises as well as problem-based learning, using research-based case studies.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 56
  • Exercises
  • 18
  • Lectures
  • 62
  • Preparation
  • 58
  • Seminar
  • 12
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
The length of the written take-home assignment must be 5-10 pages (2400 words/page), excl. appendices.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period


Criteria for exam assesment

To achieve the maximum grade of 12, the student must be able to:

Describe relevant research problems in global health and apply knowledge of general concepts for ensuring good research practice.

Critically discuss relevant quantitative and/or qualitative data collection methods in preparation for studies of global health problems.

Analyse qualitative and quantitative data on health and disease using appropriate analytical methods.

Identify and critically evaluate the relevance and validity of scientific literature and data. The student must also be able to interpret systematic reviews with an emphasis on health interventions targeting major global health problems.