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Investigating health and social care

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In an age in which various kinds of knowledge and research can be instantly available via the internet it is essential for health and social care students to learn discernment, and critical appreciation of the best knowledge and research available. This module concentrates on teaching you the skills necessary to conduct an investigation into a subject area of your own choice in a systematic way through a literature review.

What you will study

The focus of this module will be the analysis of secondary research and providing recommendations that could improve the lives of health and social care service users in any social context.

In doing so, you’ll be introduced to the appropriate databases that will enable you to complete literature searches and gain an appropriate awareness of the definitions of a range of empirical research terminologies.

As you progress through the module you’ll critically appraise the findings and viewpoints of a variety of authors on a given subject matter in current literature in health and social care.

The module culminates with you producing your own literature review on a subject area of your choice.

You will learn

By studying this module you will learn to:

  • understand and recognise how a literature review of current knowledge and research can contribute to the investigation of any topic in health and social care.
  • understand and recognise the role of critical appraisal in literature reviews.
  • construct and synthesise a literature review which will critically appraise current knowledge and research and thus help to illuminate personal or professional interest in aspect of health and social care.
  • critically appraise the findings and viewpoints of a variety of authors on a given subject matter in current literature in health and social care.

Professional recognition

This module is part of our BA (Hons) Health and Social Care and our social work programmes, and has been recognised as such by the relevant professional bodies.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module and you need to have the study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, obtained either through OU level 2 study, or from equivalent study elsewhere. Any OU level 2 module, particularly in health and social care would be ideal preparation. However, you don’t need any prior knowledge as the study material for this module is designed to be accessible if you are new to this subject.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

Your study materials will include a module text book and an online study calendar comprising of the learning guides accessed via the module website.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout this module you’ll be supported by a personal tutor. This support can take a variety of forms and include the use of several modes of contact. To ensure you are supported in a way that meets your needs, you will form a partnership with another student. You’ll be able to have supportive conversations and email correspondence aimed at developing your investigation and this small group will be particularly important as you move towards submission of your short literature review.

You will also be strongly encouraged to engage in group learning with your fellow students via tutor hosted learning events, asynchronous forums and ‘in-line discussions’. You will also be provided with written feedback on your tutor-marked assignments (TMA) submissions that is designed to guide your future TMA submissions.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K323 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Investigating health and social care starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2026.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school