DA7018 - Apprenticeship Dissertation Portfolio for Advanced Clinical Practitioners

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will critically explore a range of approaches to research and how research informs clinical practice. Emphasis will be placed on your understanding of the world view, design and meaning system that will drive your own final project that will form your dissertation. You will pick between an Empirical Project, Service Improvement or Systematic Appraisal. In the module you will revisit and deepen your understandings of a range of key topic areas linked to research and service improvement processes; it will include discussion of world views and research paradigms; the research question, aim or hypothesis; research and service improvement design, using literature and theory to inform evidence-based practice; developing ethical codes; constructing the research sample, collecting robust research evidence; ensuring quality assurance within your work; analysing both qualitative and quantitative evidence; and writing and disseminating your findings. You will be invited to attend a series of research and service improvement seminars during the module and you will have access to a named supervisor for one-to-one supervision. Both the seminars and individual supervision will encourage you to apply the key areas of learning within this module to your own professional context and field of expertise. This will enable you to critically examine how the research and service improvement processes will work best for your final project goals and design.

If you are studying for a specialist named award, you will be expected to complete your research project (portfolio one) and the competence-based component (portfolio two) in the context of the nationally recognised standard of advanced practice associated with that award. Please refer to the programme specification document for more information about specialist named awards

How will I learn on this module?

You will participate in this module as an active, self-directed learner. The module will be built around a number of activities that will help you to explore the different aspects of undertaking a robust research study, helping you to identify your dissertation choice (Empirical Project, Service Improvement or Systematic Appraisal).

You will work with a named supervisor for the duration of your project. This will involve one-to-one contact with this individual, and supervision will be focused on your dissertation and should follow its path as it unfolds. This one-to-one support will enable you to explore areas of the work that are troublesome, and the critical dialogue that it enables will help you to develop your understanding of the theoretical, methodological and practical aspects of your dissertation choice. In addition to your individual supervision, you will be encouraged to attend a series of seminars that will also follow the path of your project during the span of your programme. The seminars normally involve a small group of individuals from a variety of advanced practice programmes who are all immersed in their final project. This group of peers is invaluable to the social learning processes. During each seminar it is expected that individuals will share their own challenges and successes. The sharing of understandings and experiences will be an integral part of the way in which the module helps to socially construct individual’s perceptions of their work. You will also be expected to develop and apply your knowledge and skills in the clinical practice environment, and you will work with your employer and clinical supervisor to identify learning opportunities appropriate to your ongoing development. You must successfully complete both theoretical and competence-based assessments for this module.

The module enables you to develop an effective and successful dissertation, which is focused on your own practice area, and demonstrate your transition to an autonomous advanced clinical practitioner. This will be achieved through seminars, independent learning activities, individual dissertation supervision, and by operating as a project coordinator and leader.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported by the module lead, clinical supervisor, and an allocated named supervisor. Your module lead and clinical supervisor will help you to identify your dissertation choice. Your module lead can also be contacted to offer module guidance when necessary.

Portfolio one (theoretical component): You will be allocated a named academic supervisor for the duration of the module. Supervisors bring a wide range of expertise to help your learning, and will use a variety of approaches to help you conceptualise, focus, plan and implement your study and write your dissertation: this will include, but will not be restricted to, feedback on your ideas, proposals, and plans. While selected for their professional and academic expertise and experience, consideration is also given to your project subject and, where possible, every effort is made to match this with the interest area of the supervisor. If you are allocated a dissertation supervisor that is not your personal tutor, they will assume the role of personal tutor for the rest of your studies.

Portfolio two (practical component): You will be assigned a clinical supervisor whose responsibility it is to ensure that you are supported in your clinical practice area, have the appropriate experiences to allow you to progress, monitor your progress, and provide individual feedback and sign off your competence documentation. Methods of learning development and assessment include Assessment of Clinical Expertise (ACE or mini ACE) Case-Based Discussions (CBD), Mini Clinical Evaluation Exercise (MiniCEX), Directly Observed Practical Skills (DOPS), Multisource Feedback (MSF) and Acute Care Assessment Tool (ACAT) where appropriate. These are recognised methods of assessment used by medical practitioners and endorsed by a number of medical colleges, including the Royal College of Physicians. You will be required to engage in regular tripartite/progress meetings with your clinical supervisor and Personal Tutor to provide support for your development.

The University Library offers an extensive collection of material, both hard copy and electronic, access to international databases and training in information retrieval, in addition to study space and IT equipment. Study skills help sheets can be found on the Library’s Skills Plus site. In addition, the University Student Support and Wellbeing Services offer information, guidance and support.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

Conceptualise a final project topic and establish its relevance to your practice area/field of expertise.

Utilise relevant philosophical and theoretical underpinnings to implement a project demonstrating critical awareness and evaluation of the needs of the service user, the service, and the practice context.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

Use contemporary evidence to construct, successfully manage and evaluate a project of your choice: Empirical Project, Service Improvement or Systematic Appraisal

Demonstrate the ability to consult, collaborate and negotiate with service users (where appropriate), stakeholders and colleagues when planning a project.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

5. Critically examine ethical issues related to healthcare delivery, relevant to your chosen project.

How will I be assessed?

Formative: In this module formative assessment will normally focus on your developing research study and be decided by you and your supervisor. You will be encouraged to share parts of your written work with your supervisor prior to final submission. Additional formative feedback will come from the sharing of project work during seminar discussions.

MLOs- All.


Portfolio one: You will produce a 10,000-word dissertation to present your chosen project.

Empirical Project - develop and implement a small-scale empirical study to explore a research question

Service Improvement – using an evidence-based approach, construct and successfully manage the implementation of a Service Improvement

Systematic Appraisal - engage in a robust research process where you will systematically appraise evidence based published studies to answer your identified research questions(s).?

The dissertation structure will vary depending on your choice, but all will include a common core; using academic inquiry to introduce your study, debate its relevance, and present your findings. Guidance on the structure of your dissertation will be provided in the module handbook, on the eLearning portal and during supervision and seminars. You will submit an electronic copy of your dissertation and you will receive electronic feedback via the eLearning portal.

Portfolio two: Submission of portfolio of clinical competencies (Pass/Fail). Your clinical supervisor will be the signatory of completion. This will be a hardcopy submission and feedback will be given electronically via the eLearning portal.

MLOs- All


- DA7011/AC7047 Health History and Examination
- DA7007/AC7082 Life Sciences for Advanced Clinical Practitioners
- DA7013/AC7050 Service Improvement and Research Methods in Advanced Clinical Practice or equivalent
- DA7008: Managing Clinical Complexity in Advanced Clinical Practice



Module abstract

This module focuses on you as a researcher and provides an opportunity for you to design a research project that is presented in the form of a dissertation. You can pick between an Empirical Project, Service Improvement or Systematic Appraisal for the purpose of answering a specific research question that is relevant and important to your practice and field of expertise, thus enabling you to develop the skills to continue contributing to advanced level practice throughout your career. The dissertation you produce should develop your understanding of the focus of your work and may also help to transform practice at the individual and/or systems level. You will be supported in the module by a named supervisor and through the provision of a series of research seminars. Assessment of the module is by a theoretical component and a practical/clinical-based component. Portfolio one, the theoretical component, is a final project report (10,000 words) in which the project is presented in an appropriate academic style. Portfolio two, the clinical-based component, will contain a competence-based document. If you are studying for a specialist named award, you will be expected to complete your research project and portfolio of clinical competencies in the context of the nationally recognised standard of advanced practice associated with that award. Please refer to the programme specification document for more information about specialist named awards.

This module will uphold the ethos of adult education, you will be encouraged to operate in a collegial and collaborative manner and to share and deepen your research-based understandings through critical dialogue with your supervisor and module peer group.

Course info

Credits 40

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Part Time

Department Nursing, Midwifery & Health

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start January 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

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