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Dissertation: a research project

This one-year research project is an 18,000 word dissertation which completes the Masters in Advancing Healthcare Practice (if you began your studies in February 2010 or earlier), drawing on preparation and skills developed in two research courses, the now-discontinued K824 and Conducting healthcare research (K825). You will work with an experienced, individual supervisor – and a statistician where required – to deepen and diversify your knowledge and understanding of advancing practice. You will be expected to generate new knowledge and confront the uncertainties associated with project planning and decision-making as part of the work towards your innovation portfolio.

What you will study

This one-year project will enable you to use the skills you have developed during your postgraduate studies and work with an individual supervisor who will help you deepen and diversify your knowledge and understanding of advancing practice. You will be expected to generate new knowledge and confront the uncertainties associated with project planning and decision-making as part of the work towards your innovation portfolio. Support will include:

  • a project supervisor who will work with you on a one-to-one basis over one calendar year, allocating 15 hours of contact time and advising on each stage of the project
  • monthly contact with the project supervisor
  • a six-month progress check, designed to help both you and the supervisor take stock of progress and link learning to your personal development plan
  • a dissertation guide that will highlight the key stages of project planning and common problems and solutions
  • the expert guidance of a statistician (as necessary)
  • literature searching guidance from our Library and Information Services
  • a collection of resources offering practical guidance (e.g. how to prepare work for publication)
  • a network of fellow researchers and project developers; up to 75 students may be conducting a project at any one time, providing a critical mass of collegiate support and an opportunity for networking.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this project you will be able to:

  • systematically record your observations, decisions and data in ways that meet ethical/scholarly requirements and that enable you to prepare a coherent report of your findings
  • present clear findings and robust conclusions about what the data/findings contribute to the advancement of healthcare practice
  • undertake a supervised practice innovation project, involving 600 hours of study effort and leading to an 18,000-word portfolio
  • manage your project schedule, making critical decisions about how to develop the work in progress
  • characterise, clarify and propose solutions to problems that are encountered while conducting the project.

Transferable skills

On successful completion of this project you will be able to:

  • utilise information technology
  • retrieve, interpret and utilise data (qualitative and quantitative), information and evidence
  • work collaboratively
  • manage uncertainty
  • translate concepts into practice
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems.


Entry is open to registered healthcare professionals with a minimum of one year’s post-qualifying experience who have current access to practice environments and have successfully completed a first degree in a relevant subject.

K800 should be the final module in the Masters in Advancing Healthcarel Practice (if you began your studies in February 2010 or earlier) and you must have completed all of the modules that make up the Postgraduate Diploma in Advancing Healthcare Practice before embarking on the dissertation.

Preparatory work

You will receive guidance of how to get started online in your first course mailing. This will provide you with information on using your computer for OU study and working with the Computing Guide. For example, it explains how to access and use the dedicated website and online forums. If you have time before the course starts, you can work through this and explore all the online services available to you.


K800 is an optional module in our:

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

Study materials

What's included

The course is supported by a specially written research project study guide that leads you through the stages of planning and implementing your project. Specific guidance on your individual project is then provided by a supervisor, who advises on matters such as project preparation, securing approval, project management and writing up findings. Materials include a short guide to publishing your project findings at the end. You will have access to a dedicated website through which teaching and library resources are available. Electronic versions of most of the printed study materials are provided on the website.

You will need

Where innovation projects are based upon statistical analysis you will need access to the relevant packages.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a project supervisor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. As K800 is project-based you will be expected to show initiative, consulting with your supervisor on a monthly basis and discussing the plans that you make. There are no tutorials or study groups associated with this course, but you will be encouraged to network with other innovation project learners, enriching your understanding and experience of project working. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


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

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Future availability

The details given here are for the final course start in May 2013. It is only available if you began your studies in February 2010 or earlier. A new course Transforming professional practice (K829) is available from October 2012.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world's leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you're at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you'll be supported throughout your studies - your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information about distance learning at the OU read Study explained.

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