Armband placed on patient to check blood pressure

Current research projects

Studying our Master of Research (MRes) Science and Health 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.

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 to discuss project ideas and potential supervisors.

MRes Science - Health and Care Professions research projects:

Discover our fully funded Masters in Research

Application deadline: Sunday 7 July 2024

Explore our funded MRes in Science and Health, offered as part of the South Central INSIGHT Programme (SCIP) and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Designed to equip soon-to-qualify or newly qualified health and social care professionals with research skills that advance your career.

Find out more

Close Encounters: Evaluation of a community intervention to improve quality of life in isolated older adults

Supervisor: Dr Amy Drahota

This MRes is commissioned by Age UK Portsmouth in collaboration with Gosport Voluntary Action via funding they have received from the National Lottery's Community Fund. This funding covers UK tuition fees whilst also providing the successful applicant with a stipend of £17,328 spread over two years and a budget of £1,825 for project costs.

Your research will involve using mixed-methods to evaluate the “Close Encounters” service, which seeks to improve the quality of life for lonely and isolated older people living in Portsmouth and Gosport. You'll be encouraged to choose appropriate methods based on the training you receive as part of the MRes.

You'll develop, undertake, analyse and interpret around 10 qualitative interviews with service users and those involved in delivering the service to explore the impact on those who have used it. The support of a statistician will be provided to enable the analysis of quantitative outcomes (related to wellbeing and achievement of goals) of those who have received the service, based on anonymised data supplied and collected via Age UK Portsmouth. You'll be involved in integrating the findings from the qualitative and quantitative data to reach overall conclusions and recommendations for practice.

If you are interested in this opportunity or would like more information, please contact for an informal chat.

Developing a core outcome set for shock-absorbing flooring injury-prevention studies

Supervisor: Dr Amy Drahota

Fall-related injuries are a major concern for older populations, and falls remain the main safety incident reported in hospitals and care homes. There are lots of different approaches to try and prevent falls and resulting injuries, and one potential intervention to help prevent injurious falls is more compliant flooring, which could provide a softer landing when falls do occur. There is a diverse evidence-base exploring shock-absorbing floors, which we have analysed in a Health Technology Assessment systematic review.

A key issue with the studies in this area is the how the outcomes have been defined, prioritised, measured, analysed and reported. This MRes project will progress the primary recommendation that came from our assessment to develop a core outcome set for the field. The project will follow the recommendations of the COMET initiative in its design and methods. It will involve working with relevant stakeholders, including researchers, healthcare professionals, and patients, to develop a list of candidate outcomes, and then undertake a consensus process to develop the final core outcome set recommendations. This study will contribute to improving the evidence in fall-related injury prevention.

Confidence in the delivery of bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), following training of school aged children

Supervisor: Mr Patryk Jadzinski

Skills in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) are truly skills for life – and educating and empowering young people is one of the most important actions when it comes to improving survival of out of hospital cardiac arrests.

In countries where basic life support is taught in schools, survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest are significantly (two to three times) higher than those where they aren’t taught. With 80% of cardiac arrests occurring in the home in the UK, school aged children being comfortable and proficient in delivering CPR could be the difference between life and death for someone they care about.

Understanding the impact on the confidence and ability of school aged pupils to deliver the bystander CPR, following basic training, would offer a useful insight into the feasibility and usefulness of this training being delivered in the schools.

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: Dr 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 (such as provisional, unfavourable and favourable (+/- additional conditions) among others) 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.

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.

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.

The use of NICE guidelines in eye care referral pathways

Supervisor: Professor Richard Newsom

NICE guidelines set out the criteria for the management and referral pathways. The study seeks to understand how these are applied and how this affects patient eye care. 

Does the current model of eye health and visual impairment services fail to attract and raise awareness in the BME community? An investigation of barriers and possible enablers to improve BME access to preventative eye health care and visual impairment services.

Supervisor: Pauline Robison 

Previous research has noted that members of the BME community are less likely to attend primary eye care appointments or seek the help of visual impairment services.This is contrary to the fact that Asian and Black ethnic groups are at higher risk of eye diseases (such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy), which consequently results in one in 10 people from BME communities over the age of 65 being more likely to experience significant visual impairment. Potential students can develop any aspect of this topic in their M(Res) project.

  • Scase MO, & Johnson MR. Visual impairment in ethnic minorities in the UK. In International Congress Series 2005:1282; 438-442.

Current landscape and management of keratoconus

Supervisor: Aris Konstantopoulos

Keratoconus is a progressive condition of the cornea that leads to a gradual deterioration of vision, very frequently below driving standards, and often necessitates a corneal transplant for visual improvement. The proposed research will investigate at what stage of the condition patients with keratoconus are referred to the Hospital Eye Service (HES) for consideration of treatment. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for patients to be referred to the HES at advanced stages of the condition, when the vision is already poor; the window of opportunity to maintain good vision for these patients has been missed as the condition is irreversible. 

This research project will investigate:

  • The stage at which patients with keratoconus are referred to HES. 
  • Whether there is an association between stage of the condition at presentation and socioeconomic indicators. 
  • Whether there is an association between visual acuity and clinical parameters of the condition, which are measured on a topographic scan of the cornea. 

The art of reading: Can we help paint the picture

Supervisor: Pauline Robison 

Investigation of ways to improve visual stress including colorimetry, eye tracking, visual training.

Exploring the optometrist’ role in public health

Supervisor: Luisa Simo

The beliefs and behaviours towards public health matters such as smoking and diet have an impact on the advice transmitted effectiveness of health promotion. The project seeks to understand what influences clinicians when giving advice on public health matters to their patients. 

  • Downie LE, Keller PR (2015) The Self- Reported Clinical Practice Behaviors of Australian Optometrists as Related to Smoking, Diet and Nutritional Supplementation. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0124533. 

Other Research Projects

Find out more about current research projects in science and health:

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.