Research Methods for Health Sciences


Course Objective

Final attainment levels

After successful completion of this course the student:
1. Is able to critically reflect and discuss the need and limitations of
inter- and transdisciplinary research in the field of health sciences
2. Is able to explain, examine and critically appraise the
methodological issues and the results of qualitative studies,
observational studies, experimental studies, systematic reviews and
3. Is able to select an adequate methodology, including quantitative
and/or qualitative tools, to address a research question.
4. Is able to develop a research proposal for a Msc Internship in Health
Sciences with a sound justification (based upon existing scientific
evidence and/or relevant theories and concepts) for the relevance of the
research question and a sound methodology that enables answering the
research question thereby contributing to a solution for the
health(care) problem addressed in this proposal.

Course Content

This Master course Research Methods in Health Sciences focuses on
methods and techniques of scientific studies related to the broad field
of Health Sciences.

The overall aim of this course is to master the skills for designing
studies in the field of health sciences to a level that the students can
formulate various research questions given a specific health (care)
problem and design various types of public health studies that fit these
research questions. Finally, students should be able to critically
appraise the methodological quality of these types of studies.

This course is structured around 5 themes ;
1. Introduction and research questions;
2. Understanding your questions and data requirements;
3. Understanding and analysing risks/problems;
4. To treat, or not to treat?;
5. Data synthesis: summarizing the results.

Teaching Methods

The course comprises of lectures, as well as workgroups and workshops.
Students will work in groups on an assignment. The lectures will contain
examples applied to the broad field of health sciences.

Method of Assessment

Exam and an assignment (to be made in a team of students). Both the exam
and the assignment should be sufficient i.e. at least graded 5,5.

Entry Requirements

Students should have basic knowledge of statistics and the principles
and methods of epidemiological studies.


- ‘Doing research in the real world’. Gray, D.E. Publisher: Sage
Publications Ltd, 4th Edition, 2017.
- ‘Textbook of Epidemiology’, Bouter, L.M., Zielhuis, G.A.; Zeegers,
M.P. Publisher: Bohn Stafleu van Loghum, 1st version, 2017. (Similar to
Dutch version of the book: Leerboek epidemiologie, 7e herziene druk).
- Selected literature to support lectures provided on canvas.

Target Audience

Students with a BSc degree or premaster in Health Sciences at the VU.
Students with a comparable BSc degree (such as Health Sciences at
another university, Human Movement Sciences etc.) should contact the
course coordinator Helma IJzelenberg ( before the
start of the course.

Additional Information

The master course ’Research Methods for Health Sciences’ is a compulsory
course in the specialisations ’Policy and Organisation of Health Care’,
‘Prevention and Public Health’, ’Infectious Diseases and Public Health’,
’Nutrition and Health’ and ‘International Public Health’.

Custom Course Registration

For this course it is not possible to register for workgroups or workshops via VUnet. See Canvas for more information.

Recommended background knowledge

Students should have basic knowledge of qualitative studies.

General Information

Course Code AM_1255
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. W. IJzelenberg
Examiner dr. D.R. Essink
Teaching Staff dr. R.W.J.G. Ostelo
dr. D.R. Essink
dr. W. IJzelenberg

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Computer lab, Lecture, Study Group