Studying our Master of Research (MRes) Science allows you to focus your research interests on one or two areas of science and work towards translating your learning into research related outputs – such as a submission for a peer-reviewed publication; a peer reviewed research/knowledge transfer grant application, or a presentation.

MRes Science can be studied either full time (1-year) or part time (2-years). You will develop a wide variety of skills, experience and competence on this course, and the MRes will provide a thorough grounding for students moving towards Doctoral (PhD) studies, or pursuing research related activities as a career.

These health sciences and social work projects are available for September 2019 or January 2020 start. Please note this list of projects is not exhaustive and you'll need to meet and discuss the project you're interested in with a member of research staff before you apply.

We also welcome enquiries from applicants with their own project ideas which align to our research themes. If you have a potential project in mind, please contact Rebecca Stores on rebecca.stores@port.ac.uk to discuss project ideas and potential supervisors.

Projects available for September 2019/January 2020: 

Transitioning from worker to learner: the experiences of student nurses with a healthcare background

Supervisors: Dr Marj Woodhouse, Dr Jenny Roddis

A substantial proportion of pre-registration nursing students have clinical work experience as healthcare support workers. Little research has been conducted surrounding how this group perceive transitioning to their new role of student nurse. This study will adopt a qualitative approach to explore how student nurses perceive this transition, and the strategies adopted to reconcile the different roles. The findings will inform the support offered to students who are moving into nursing from a healthcare support worker role.

Clinical skill acquisition among student nurses with and without prior healthcare experience

Supervisors: Dr Marj Woodhouse, Dr Jenny Roddis

It may be hypothesised that knowledge and clinical skills acquisition is accelerated among pre-registration nursing students with previous experience in healthcare support worker roles, as compared to their peers without this experience. However, to date there is a limited body of research examining this. The proposed study will adopt a quantitative approach to investigate whether student nurses, with and without previous healthcare experience, differ in:

  • Self-efficacy
  • Clinical skill test scores
  • Self-reported clinical competence

The results of this study will be disseminated to interested stakeholders.

Reporting bias - can we trust medical science? 

Supervisor: Dr Simon Kolstoe

Reporting bias occurs when the decision of how to publish a study is influenced by the direction of its results. It is a well-recognized issue that is extremely topical as incomplete or misleading reports of trials and experiments have the potential to undermine evidence based medicine. Although the problem is becoming better known, it is still not clear what the solution might be. This is mainly because previous work has shown how difficult it is to even know that some trials have occurred let alone getting access to the original protocols to determine if the trials have been communicated accurately. This project will continue work looking at clinical projects submitted to an ethics committee and determining whether the researchers publish the results, and if so if they publish the originally specified outcomes. The project will suit students with a science or clinical background who are seeking to move into journalism, medical writing, science communication and/or regulatory and government bodies.

Published work from previous MRes student:

Begum R. and Kolstoe S.E. (2015) Can UK NHS research ethics committees effectively monitor publication and outcome reporting bias? BMC Medical Ethics 16:51. DOI: 10.1186/s12910-015-0042-8

Consistency in research ethics review 

Supervisor: Simon Kolstoe

Consistency is taken to mean that, for any specific application, Research Ethics Committees (RECs) give the same decision for at least roughly the same reason. RECs have occasionally been criticised for exhibiting an unjustifiable level of variation or inconsistency in their decisions. This is supported by academic papers that discuss variation in decision-making by RECs as well as evidence provided by the National Research Ethics Service’s Shared Ethical Debate exercises (ShED).

Recent ShED reports have shown that presenting RECs with the same application results in a range of opinions being given - both in terms of opinion type (provisional, unfavourable, favourable (+/- additional conditions) etc.) and in the reasons cited for their opinion. This project will use the method of thematic analysis to analyse data from ShED’s in order to determine key themes that lead to REC inconsistencies. The project will suit students with a science or clinical background who are interested in learning about qualitative research and perhaps with an interest in science policy.

Published work from previous MRes student:

Trace, S. and Kolstoe S.E. (2017) Measuring Inconsistency in Research Ethics Committee Review. BMC Medical Ethics 18:65. DOI: 10.1186/s12910-017-0224-7

Asthma and place: a case study

Supervisor: Dr Jenny Roddis

Research indicates that, for people with asthma, different types of space can impact upon their experience of their condition. For example, they may experience sea air as beneficial for their asthma, whilst other spaces such as forested areas may be perceived as 'bad' for the condition. Different types of space could result in different lifestyle choices being made, such as choosing not to exercise in a space where one's asthma is exacerbated or choosing not to take a preventer inhaler when in a positive space. Understanding the choices made by those with asthma will help us to understand why death rates linked to the condition are still too high, and to provide better information and advice to those affected. This research will adopt a case study approach to gain in-depth insights into the experiences and perspectives of individuals with asthma in relation to different types of space.

Placement mentors' views of their role in supporting the use of evidence in student nurses' practice

Supervisor: Dr Jenny Roddis

Patient outcomes are known to be improved by the nurses' use of evidence to inform their care. Nursing student mentors are required by the NMC to:

  • Identify and apply research and evidence-based practice to their area of practice
  • Contribute to strategies to increase or review the evidence-base used to support practice
  • Support students in applying an evidence base to their own practice

This study will investigate mentors' views of evidence-based practice and their thoughts on ways in which students can be supported to incorporate evidence into practice. The findings will have particular relevance as the NMC update their Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses, and look towards introducing the roles of practice supervisor and practice assessor.

Student nurses' views of adopting an evidence-based approach whilst on placement

Supervisor: Dr Jenny Roddis

Patient outcomes are known to be improved by nurses' use of evidence to inform their care. Nurses are expected to adopt an evidence-based approach to their practice, and should be starting to do this as students. There are a number of barriers and enablers to the use of evidence for qualified nurses. This study will explore with third year student nurses their views of evidence-based practice, how they incorporate evidence into their practice whilst on placements, and the barriers and enablers to student nurses using evidence whilst on placement. The findings will have particular relevance as the NMC update their Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses.

Investigating the effectiveness of advanced life support on the move

Supervisor: Dr Mick Harper

Although unanticipated out of hospital cardiac arrest (CA) remains a small proportion of the Paramedic workload, pre-hospital staff must be prepared to respond, diagnose, treat and transfer in such incidents. Often Paramedics face significant challenges that impact upon the treatment of CA patients, including access to the patient, transfer onto an emergency vehicle, and deciding whether to resuscitate on the move or delay transfer (often dependent on location). The treatment of CA may include advanced life support measures. These can present their own challenges whilst stationary and become even more challenging while moving, especially when the travel time to definitive care is increased. Whilst there is evidence to show outcomes following CA in terms of return of spontaneous circulation once definitive care is reached, there is a paucity of evidence that evaluates the effectiveness of advanced resuscitation on the move. This project aims to address this issue through the comparison of static resuscitation compared with resuscitation on the move using hi fidelity manikins to record simulated physiology based upon participant actions.

Can eye gaze technologies support effective transition through the novice-expert continuum for emergency drivers? 

Supervisor: Dr Mick Harper

Learning to drive consists of the development of cognitive, psychomotor and affective skills and knowledge up to a threshold standard. However, emergency drivers continue to develop these skills, incorporating dynamic risk assessments that have to be applied in often challenging circumstances. This project seeks to identify if novices can be taught emergency driving skills in a safe, effective and contemporaneous way by establishing the behavioural characteristics of ‘expert’ drivers and applying those characteristics through informed and directed teaching to novices.

Evaluating specialist rehabilitation interventions for older visually impaired people

Supervisor: Dr John Crossland

There are major gaps in the evidence base supporting traditional community based interventions used by specialist rehabilitation workers with visually impaired people. In particular we know very little about how these interventions impact upon older people living with sight loss for whom visual impairment is just one of a number of long-term age related conditions they experience. Potential students could develop any aspect of this research area into an MRes project.

One child families in developing countries: determinants and consequences

Supervisor: Dr Sasee Pallikadavath

The number of one child households in many developing countries in increasing (over 10%). This indicates a significant shift in fertility behaviour. This project will investigate motivation of couples to voluntarily limit number of children to one and examine the impact of one child families on the “children”, their families and the wider community. Policy implications will form a significant component of the project.

Unintended consequences: can family planning and child survival programmes increase childhood morbidity and trap the poor in poverty? 

Supervisor: Dr Sasee Pallikadavath

The main aim of this research is to examine potential effects of family planning and child survival on poverty in developing countries, particularly among the poorest poor. It is hypothesised that family planning and Child Survival programmes make it possible for newborns with congenital and acquired medical conditions to survive but experience recurring morbidity during childhood leading to a burden of medical and opportunity cost to the family, further trapping the poor in poverty and impoverishing others.

Access to essential medicines in developing countries

Supervisor: Dr Sasee Pallikadavath

This project will investigate inequalities in access to medicine in poor settings. It will further study factors associated with access and propose potential remedies for increasing access. The focus of the project will be on essential medicines listed by WHO.

Health system inequalities in developing countries

Supervisor: Dr Sasee Pallikadavath

This project will study health systems in the context of epidemiological transition and will address questions such as whether health systems are capable of addressing new and emerging health problems of transition and post transition societies.

An analysis of child deaths and serious injuries as a results of road traffic accidents in Portsmouth

Supervisor: Dr Isobel Ryder

The project will contribute to our understanding of factors associated with serious injuries and deaths in children as a result of road traffic accidents (RTAs) within the city of Portsmouth. The project will undertake following activities:

  • a literature review of physical, environmental, social, and other factors associated with serious injuries and deaths in children as a result of RTAs in the UK
  • multivariate analysis of secondary data from local statistics and health records in relation to serious injuries in children following RTA in Portsmouth postcodes over one year
  • multivariate analysis of secondary data from local statistics and health records in relation to deaths in children following RTA in Portsmouth postcodes over one year

Gaze control during clinical interpersonal interactions and scene assessment

Supervisor: Dr Isobel Ryder, Dr Mick Harper

Gaze control during communication with others, clinical and interpersonal interactions, and scene assessment can be crucial in developing new ways of teaching and learning - Research in this area will seek to examine how one person interacts with another or their surroundings. For example you may decide to research real-time clinical situations (in our simulation suite, surrounding areas or university classrooms) in order to understand the mechanisms of gaze control that occur during patient examination and assessment or scene assessment. These projects will contribute to our understanding of behavioural factors associated with responses to how we prioritise our actions, for example the recognition and management of the deteriorating patient, or to a range of specific emergency situations and could be conducted in simulation with novice and experienced students.

Sleep disorders in adults with Down syndrome across the age range - an important by neglected aspect fo their healthcare needs

Supervisor: Dr Rebecca Stores

There is ample evidence that persistent sleep disturbance has harmful psychological and medical effects. Such disturbance is common in the general population but certain groups are at particularly high risk - including people with a learning disability. Inevitably this adds significantly to their already increased healthcare needs. The common intellectually disabling condition of Down syndrome is a case in point. Some preliminary surveys of sleep disorders in children with this syndrome have been conducted but little is known about such disorders in adults (especially older adults) with this condition. The aim of this project is to collect information using reliable survey methods about the nature of the sleep disorders in adults with Down syndrome across the age range. The results can be expected to provide insights into the types of sleep disorder treatments needed in the expectation that such treatment will bring about improvements in the individuals’ and carers’ well being.

Falls prevention: what are the barriers and facilitators to the routine assessment of orthostatic hypotension in hospitalised patients? 

Supervisor: Dr Amy Drahota, Dr Marj Woodhouse

A multifactorial falls risk assessment is advocated in older people considered at risk of falling (NICE 2013). This includes assessment of lying and standing blood pressures to determine the presence of orthostatic hypotension. However a recent audit found that less than 20% of patients had been assessed for orthostatic hypotension by the third day of admittance (Royal College of Physicians 2017). This study will explore healthcare professionals’ views on the barriers and facilitators to the routine assessment of lying and standing blood pressures as part of a falls prevention programme.

Other Research Projects

Discover the current research projects available in each of our schools and departments: 

Please note, this list is not exhaustive and you'll need to meet and discuss the project you're interested in with a member of research staff before you apply.