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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences : Molecular and Clinical Medicine

Postgraduate Course: Clinical Trials Foundation Course (MCLM11024)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis introductory Foundation course offers participants a grounding in the following areas:
1. Online learning and communication technologies
2. Web literacy and evidence based medicine (EBM)
3. Basic medical statistics
Together, competency in each of the areas will prepare the course participant for online study on the MScCT programme and contribute to the individuals academic writing skills and critical appraisal skills within the presentation and analysis of clinical research.
Course description Online learning and communication technologies
The MSc in Clinical Trials (MSCCT) is an online distance learning (ODL) programme. It has been recognised that the online technologies selected to create the programmes virtual learning environment (VLE) are not always straightforward to use by course participants and can stand in the way of learning. The first part of the course is designed to foster skills and confidence in the use of online applications and tools in the VLE. Hands-on activities introduce course participants to the technology of live online tutorials and lectures, asynchronous discussions, web resources, electronic submissions, and online authoring and recording tools. With a focus on online collaborative learning and communication throughout, the approach is also designed to raise awareness for the affordances of online technologies and social media for patient recruitment, networking, access to health information and the management of global, multi-centred, clinical trials.

Web literacy and evidence based medicine (EBM)
Clinical researchers and drug companies have come into disrepute for withholding results which have been seen to mislead healthcare practitioners about the benefits and risks of a drug or treatment. In the second part of the course, participants will engage critically with this problem and explore key perspectives of evidence based medicine and current issues around the gap between EBM and clinical practice. Supported by live expert guest lectures and critical asynchronous discussions the course participant will be engaged in independent and collaborative activities designed to provide a thorough and practical grounding in the use of institutional e-resources, conducting medical literature searches and online systematic reviews and critically appraising clinical research papers. A key focus lies in developing and further developing academic writing and critical thinking skills in the assessment of trustworthiness, relevance and results in published papers to improve the quality of health care decisions. Course participants will have access to bibliographic management software packages and are expected to access relevant quality journals, use online databases and become familiar with phenomena such as AllTrials, The Cochrane Collaboration and the CONSORT statement.

Basic medical statistics
With a focus on differential and basic inferential medical statistics the third part of the course will enable participants to develop the statistical knowledge and skills required to confidently appraise clinical research papers for poor design, methodology and reporting. In a series of lessons and practical activities within a clinical trials setting the course participant will become versed in statistics terminology, basic computational procedures and the interpretation of their results. Participants will distinguish between different types of data, recognise common central tendencies and data distributions, compute basic statistical measures such as mean, median, mode, sample variance and standard deviation, define confidence intervals and hypothesis testing. An introduction to the concept of power and power calculations using statistical software packages (SPSS, minitab) will prepare the course participant for more comprehensive instruction in Unit III 'Statistics and trial design' of the first course, 'Introduction to clinical trials'.
The online statistics lessons are each introduced in live tutorials by a dedicated course statistician who is also available throughout for problem-solving support in the asynchronous discussion boards and synchronous chat rooms. End of topic self-tests and individual lesson tasks offer opportunities for course participants to continually monitor their own learning. After completing this basic medical statistical tutorial the course participant will not necessarily know how to do statistical analysis, but should have the knowledge and understanding to select the most appropriate statistical method for answering a specific clinical research question and be in a position to confidently interpret the results and figures.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs 0
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Flexible
Course Start Date 05/08/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 5, Online Activities 100, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 40, Formative Assessment Hours 12, Summative Assessment Hours 10, Revision Session Hours 8, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 21 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment components are:

Online participation - 10%
Individual project (Critical Appraisal) - 50%
Computer Aided Assessment (CAA) - 40%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a learning strategy that makes appropriate use of technology as presented within the context of the MSCCT ODL programme
  2. Critically evaluate medical research literature and resources that are relevant to a particular area of clinical research
  3. Demonstrate a comprehensive and practical understanding of finding, appraising and implementing evidence-based medicine in its relevance to the quality of clinical care
  4. Competency in the nomenclature and computational procedures of basic medical statistics (descriptive statistics and basic inferential statistics)
  5. Confidently use a statistical software package (SPSS /minitab) for basic statistical analyses in the design of clinical research and evaluation of medical treatment
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Within the work to be undertaken this course will provide course participants with the opportunity to develop or further develop key graduate attributes:
- In-depth knowledge of specialist discipline
- Develop new understanding by exercising critical judgement and challenging knowledge
- Be a self-directed and curious learner
- Solve problems effectively taking ethical, professional and environmental issues into account
- Use information responsibly in a range of contexts
- Engage in reflective practice and self-development
- Collaborate with others, capitalising on their different thinking, experience and skills
- Communicate (written, oral, online) effectively, respectful of social and cultural diversity
- Application of numeracy
- Application of IT
KeywordsOnline Learning,Basic Statistics,Communication technologies,Web Literacy,Evidence Based Medicine
Course organiserMs Jacqueline Stephen
Tel: (0131 6)51 9952
Course secretaryMr David Stevens
Tel: 0131 242 6120
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