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Researching and evaluating healthcare practice

Researching and evaluating healthcare practice assists you to play a leading role in healthcare improvements through an appreciation of healthcare quality, research, evidence evaluation and skill analysis. You will conduct a series of investigations (some based on your healthcare setting, others are studied privately or with tutor group colleagues), to explore the basis for service improvement, including robust and appropriate underpinning evidence, best research practice and skill analysis. The module provides opportunities to explore the work of the researcher, look at ways to evaluate evidence, and explore approaches that can assist you to unpick skills practised locally.

Vocational relevance

This module is relevant to a wide variety of people who aspire to improve the quality of healthcare. Through this module you will gain skills which will enable you to gather and review evidence in order to determine enhancements in healthcare. If you are engaged in audit, healthcare improvement and similar work, lead or work with a healthcare improvement team or work with others on their research (e.g. practising as a research nurse), this will be a valuable module for you. The module is also valuable for healthcare practitioners making contributions within social care environments, charities and similar or anywhere that healthcare is a concern and where there is a need for healthcare improvement.

This module is self-contained and develops a coherent set of skills and so is open to both individual students and sponsors who wish to develop a cohort of their staff in this area of work.


K828 is a compulsory module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

The module is divided into four blocks of study, each with associated investigations.

Block 1 - starts with your personal experience of healthcare improvement and healthcare quality. You explore what these terms mean, drawing on your experience. 

Block 2 - is concerned with the analysis of skills – those that you routinely use in practice, and also those that are important when you review or generate research evidence. In this block, you will select a skill for closer analysis, learn to differentiate between skills, techniques and approaches and then to ‘unpick’ the component parts of your chosen skill. Once you have successfully analysed your chosen skill, you are assisted to identify ways in which you can develop the skill further. 

Block 3 - focuses on research and in particular the design of successful research projects that are ethical. You will learn about the key features of research design, the philosophical underpinnings of research, and how that affects the research aims, questions or hypotheses and the type of fieldwork that is employed. This block includes a consideration of research ethics, including access arrangements that have to be made before a project can be undertaken. It provides the opportunity to try out some research skills in a supportive setting. Although you are not required to conduct a research project in this module you will be well equipped to design a research project in the future and to determine whether the research of others has been well designed.

Block 4 - is all about the review and evaluation of evidence which may come in many different forms and from different sources. Although research is one well-regarded source of evidence, there are also others, including audit data and patient experience. You will examine what is meant by the term ‘evidence’ and consider how different sorts of evidence play a key role in service improvement. 

A final block enables you to sum up your learning and determine how one of the above processes (research, skill analysis or evidence review) can contribute to healthcare improvement in your chosen area of practice. The study materials guide you through this evaluative process and help you to make a case about what has or could be contributed towards specific improvements in the quality of healthcare.

You will learn

On successful completion of this module you will:

  • be able to design and plan projects to review available evidence, to conduct ethical and sound research and to analyse skills that contribute to quality healthcare agendas
  • understand ways in which philosophy, research paradigms and healthcare values may influence the way in which evidence is reviewed, research conceived and skill analysis is conducted
  • have knowledge of appropriate philosophy, techniques and approaches necessary to underpin field work or information retrieval of different kinds, that of the researcher, the skill analyst or the reviewer of evidence
  • be able to critically evaluate the possible impact of research, evidence review or skill analysis on other stakeholders, including patients, practitioners and healthcare organisations
  • understand how to liaise with other colleagues, including those in a healthcare context or in the study group, to challenge complacent ideas, to diversify the knowledge available for use, and the depth of understanding available.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You are assigned a tutor who will help facilitate your study of the module and answer queries relating to your reading and local practice observations. Your tutor is accessible by email and telephone and through the tutor group forums associated with the module. Your tutor can be regarded as an ‘investigative companion’ as you explore the subject matter of the module. Regular contact with your tutor will help sustain study and increase the chances that you address the assessments in an appropriate way.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system.

It is essential to have regular access to a healthcare environment to be able to complete your assignments.

Course work includes

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Researching and evaluating healthcare practice (K828) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that starts in October 2019, the last time it will start.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    You should note that successful completion of Leading healthcare improvements (K827) is a prerequisite for undertaking this module. As K827 is now discontinued, the exception is if a successful application for credit transfer is made to substitute for the former.

    It is also a requirement that you have: 

    • a degree (FHEQ Level 6 / SCQF Level 9), conferred by a UK university or other recognised degree-awarding body
    • access to a setting related to healthcare
    • spoken and written English of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

    You are strongly advised to study no more than this one 60-credit module in the same year.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Preparatory work

    No assumptions are made regarding your understanding of healthcare improvement, healthcare quality, research, evidence or skills. You will, however, be expected within the course to write assessment answers that demonstrate your powers of reasoning and an inquisitive approach to your practice. The course requires reflective forms of writing associated with what you discover in your healthcare context. 


    Start End England fee Register
    05 Oct 2019 Jun 2020 £2100.00

    Registration closes 19/09/19 (places subject to availability)

    October 2019 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    Researching and evaluating healthcare practice (K828) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that starts in October 2019, the last time it will start.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Study materials

    What's included

    This module and all the associated study material is presented online with no print material except a printed Module Guide which will give you guidance on how to get started.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and scientific, foreign language and diagrammatic materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

    This module is delivered through a website, which provides resources and a range of online activities. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you when using a computer or the internet, and have concerns about accessing this type of material, you are advised to contact us about support that can be provided to meet your needs.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.