Community Health
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​​​​​​​​​Division of Community Health​

​​The BScMedScHons (Underwater Medicine) degree programme

Module 4: ​Basic Research Methodology for Underwater Medicine

Brief description:

  • Last of four modules in the underwater medicine degree programme
  • Starts with a contact period of five days
  • Follow-up theoretical training provided via the internet - web-based guidance through class notes and other downloadable documents.
  • Practical training in the form of a research project.

Training outcomes:

The exit outcome for this module is the ability to identify a basic research question and do an introductory research project.  Candidates will also be able to critically appraise a journal article.

Although students may wish to do analytical studies, we advise them to do a descriptive study if they have not previously had training in epidemiology or have no previous research publications.

In short:  Students are trained to do a descriptive study (hypothesis generating) and be able to publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal

Note1: Publication in a journal is not a prerequisite for qualification, although the project should show potential for publication.

Theoretical training:

Textbook: Webb P, Bain C, Pirozzo S. Essential epidemiology. An introduction for students and health professionals. Cambridge University Press, 2005.  
The book is available from many online sources (e.g.  Students may also purchase the book during the contact time from the van Shaik Bookstore, Ground Floor, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg Student Centre, Fransie van Zijl Drive , Tygerberg Medical Campus. Tel: +27-21- 932 0203, Fax: +27-21- 932 0241, E-mail:

ISBN:    9780521546614
ISBN-10:    0521546613
Publisher:    Cambridge University Press

The students are guided through the textbook by means of prescribed readings of certain chapters in the textbook and additional downloads where certain themes are not covered adequately in the textbook.  This can be done at any time and place the student prefers, as well as at a pace that is comfortable.  You can test your knowledge by completing online self-tests (with specific guidance in the case of incorrect answers) and after a theme is mastered, you can write the summative assessment for that specific theme (each summative assessment ranges between 5 minutes and 20 minutes).


Practical training:

It is expected of the student to:

  • Decide on a basic research project (preferably descriptive, rather than analytical)
  • Write up a complete research proposal and protocol
  • Complete all the required documentation for submission to the institutional review board ("ethics committee")
  • Complete the research project
  • Write up the results in the format of a journal article

Entry requirements:

Each prospective candidate must:

  • have the MBChB degree or any other equivalent degree that enables him or her to register as an independent medical practitioner.
  • be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, or an equivalent international professional body that registers medical practitioners (e.g. GMC in the UK)
  • have completed his/ her internship year(s).

The following are NOT requirements:

  • The other modules of the underwater medicine degree programme (this module can be done as a stand-alone)
  • Being a diver (recreational or commercial)
  • Being diving medically fit.


Observers on this module will only be allowed subject to a referral letter and an interview with the programme coordinator.


The examination of this module consists of two separate parts, namely the evaluation of the research project and a theoretical examination of the module at the end of the year.


Students who successfully complete the module, will receive:

  • Certificate of competency from the Stellenbosch University
  • CPD/ CME Certificates from the Stellenbosch University

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):

RPL is provided to any candidate who had previously done a course or training programme in epidemiology and biostatistics.  The Stellenbosch University has specific policies and procedures relating to RPL of a student.  Contact the programme coordinator for more information. 

Contact details:

For more information, please contact Dr. W.A.J. (Jack) Meintjes, the programme coordinator:


Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences
Community Health
PO Box 241
South Africa

Tel: +27 21 938-9272