HAR6035: Introduction to Statistics and Critical Appraisal

The Introduction to Statistics and Critical Appraisal module is led by Stephen Walters. It runs in the Autumn semester and is worth 15 credits.


The Introduction to Statistics and Critical Appraisal module is led by Stephen Walters. It runs in the Autumn semester and is worth 15 credits.

It is one of the modules on:

  • European Masters Programme in Public Health (core)
  • Master of Public Health (Health Services Research) (core)
  • Master of Public Health (MPH) (core)
  • MSc Clinical Research (NIHR for Academic Clinical Fellows) (core)
  • MSc Clinical Research (standard route) (core)
  • MSc Human Nutrition (core)

This module is available as a CPD option

This module is available Faculty-wide in year 1 as a DDP module


This module introduces students to the basic concepts and techniques of medical statistics, such as hypothesis testing and confidence interval estimation.

Students will learn some simple statistical methods and the principles behind some of the more advanced techniques such as regression. It will equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to understand and critically appraise statistics in research literature.

The course is not aimed at 'doers' of statistics; that is, students who are going to design their own studies to collect and analyse their own data. It will not teach you how to analyse, present and report your own data. If you require this please see HAR6045.

Please see Additional information for more detail.


This unit aims to:

  • introduce students to fundamental concepts and methods in medical statistics
  • enable students to apply these concepts to critically appraise research literature

Learning outcomes

On satisfactory completion of the course, a student will be able to:

  • Classify and appropriately display and summarise different types of data.
  • Describe the properties of the Normal distribution.
  • Distinguish between a population and a sample, and describe the precision of a sample estimate of a population parameter.
  • Explain the concept of confidence intervals as applied to means, proportions, differences in means, and differences in proportions.
  • Describe the process of setting and testing statistical hypothesis.
  • Distinguish between ‘statistical significance’ and ‘clinical significance/importance’.
  • Evaluate the quality of published research.

Teaching methods

Lectures will be used to impart knowledge of key statistical concepts and methods, while structured exercise classes will apply these concepts to example data or published studies.

Additional information

An alternative online version of this module (HAR6042) is available for study in Semester 2.

Please note the HAR6035 course is aimed at “consumers” of statistics who need to be able to read the research literature. The course will train you to understand, interpret and critically appraise the statistics in the research literature.

The course IS NOT aimed at “doers” of statistics – students who are going to design their own studies to collect and analyse data. It will not teach you how to collect and analyse your own data. It will not train you on how to use statistical computer software packages such as SPSS to analyse your own data. For this you need to attend HAR6045 Further Statistics for Health Science Researchers in Semester 2.

Note that for DDP students the default expectation is that such students will complete the formative online assessments and the final summative examination to assess their knowledge and understanding of the key issues; and their competence and confidence in applying these skills to read, understand, interpret and appraise the statistics in the medical and health-related research literature.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

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