MSc PG Certificate PG Diploma
2022 start September 

Clinical Research

School of Health and Related Research, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health

Explore the fundamental concepts and methods of health-related research, medical statistics and how to critically appraise research literature and examine the practical and regulatory issues involved in designing and delivering clinical and health-related research projects.
Image of Katharine Palmer, postgraduate School of Health and Related Research Student in the library

Course description

This course is for people working, or aspiring to work, in the field of clinical or health-related research nationally or internationally. It is a route into research within healthcare, clinical research, academic or commercial settings and is excellent preparation for doctoral/PhD study.

We’ll provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to initiate and undertake high-quality clinical or health-related research projects. You’ll have the opportunity to critically appraise the methods and results of existing research and explore the implications of research for clinical and health-related practice.

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to undertake and manage research and be prepared for research careers within national and international clinical and health-related settings.

There are two routes available:

  • Standard route 
  • NIHR route for Academic Clinical Fellows in Medicine and Dentistry.

Open days

Join us for our online open day on Monday 6 December 2021, Monday 24 January 2022 or Wednesday 9 March 2022 from 12pm-1pm (UK time).

Register for our online open day


We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the Medical School website.


The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Continuing professional development

All modules on this course can be studied as standalone CPD modules. It is possible to complete standalone modules and then apply to transfer to an MSc/PGDip/PGCert qualification. Any time spent on the CPD route counts toward the time-limit a student has to complete their chosen qualification.


You'll gain credits from both core and optional modules. You’ll need 180 credits to get a masters degree, including 60 credits from your dissertation. You can also study for a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) or Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits), without a dissertation.

Core modules:

Introduction to Research Methods

This module provides students with an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods; it covers all stages of the research process from planning and design and research ethics and public and patient involvement, through to data collection and analysis and dissemination stages. It is specifically designed for students who do not have prior research experience and would be suitable for students from a range of backgrounds, but is particularly relevant to those interested in applied health related research. The course also provides a foundation for further learning in specific research methods.

15 credits
Introduction to Statistics and Critical Appraisal

The unit introduces students to basic concepts and techniques such as hypothesis testing and confidence interval estimation in statistics. Students will learn some simple statistical methods and the principles behind some advanced methods 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.

15 credits
Randomised Controlled Trials

Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) are used to test the effectiveness of interventions. This module covers the appropriate use of trials, the range of trial designs, strategies to optimise recruitment, sample size, outcome measures, the use of economic and qualitative methods alongside trials, the role of clinical trials units, ethical issues and governance procedures. Teaching is lecture-based. Assessment is by written assignment at the end of the module.This module is limited to a maximum of 40 students and prority will be given to ScHARR Masters students and then ScHARR Research students.

15 credits
Practical Aspects of Clinical Research

This unit is intended to run alongside the clinical research portfolio that is a part of the Masters course for NIHR Academic Clinical Fellows. It is also offered as one of the Core Modules for UK and overseas students on the generic MSc in Clinical Research. The course covers many of the practical and regulatory issues associated with carrying out clinical or health related within a variety of national and international settings including the NHS.
Face-to-face and web- based learning packages cover a variety of issues around research planning, project management, research governance, ethical and legal frameworks for research, good clinical practice, patient and public involvement, cultural competence, and dissemination and impact. The module runs across both semesters and students need to register for the Autumn semester and then continue into the Spring semester. There is no option to start in Spring and continue to the following Autumn semester.

30 credits

The aim of this module is to enable students to develop an understanding and obtain practical experience of the research process and research skills required to undertake a supervised research project. Students will be required to identify relevant information on a topic and critically review the research of others. A range of approaches should be used to assess the impact this information will have on either the planning of services or improving health. The dissertation should demonstrate competence in the following areas, as applicable to their chosen dissertation topic;
•Critically appraising and interpreting published literature;
•Using epidemiological approaches to describe health status;
•Collecting and using data and information to answer a clinical research question;
•Assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of health services.

60 credits

Optional modules:

Health Needs Assessment, Planning and Evaluation

Assessing health needs and tackling health inequalities are key aspects of public health work at the local, national and international level. This module will provide students with an understanding of the main approaches to, and methodologies for, conducting Health Needs Assessments and will equip them with an understanding of programme planning, and the monitoring and evaluation of programmes.

15 credits
Knowledge Mobilisation in Healthcare

Knowledge mobilisation is a generic term used for a number of activities that involve the use, production and knowledge management. Although the need for effective implementation of evidence-based interventions has been well documented, little is understood about how this is best achieved. The module will equip students with an understanding of the practical and theoretical challenges of mobilising knowledge and its consequences for healthcare delivery focused on problem solving and critical thinking. The focus will be on the distinction between how to mobilize (do) and how to understand (study) knowledge to action, through a critical appraisal of both approaches.

15 credits

Epidemiology is the discipline underpinning both effective public health practice and research into the causes, control and prevention of disease. Knowledge and understanding of epidemiological concepts and methods is a basic requirement for effective public health practice.

This module will provide an introduction to epidemiology covering key epidemiological concepts; measures of disease; association and causation; confounding and bias. It will also introduce research designs including cross-sectional, ecological, cohort, case-control and intervention studies and introduce population health measures such as screening.

15 credits
Qualitative Research Design and Analysis

On completing the module students will be expected to be able to: understand a range of qualitative research approaches, data collection methods and forms of analysis; plan and undertake a simple analysis of student-generated qualitative data; critically appraise the methods and results of qualitative research.

15 credits
Public Health Informatics

Public Health Informatics is a module designed to look at how informatics and information technology can be used to help address some of the major issues in public health. Public health informatics was traditionally defined as the systematic application of information and computer science and technology to public health practice, research, and learning (Yasnoff, 2000). In this module, we examine this rapidly changing field, using a combination of lectures, individual and group exercises and self directed learning. Key issues around the local, national and international contributions that technology can make to public health are critically examined and students are given a theoretical and practical grounding in this increasingly important discipline.

15 credits
Economic Evaluation and Healthcare Financing

This module introduces the basic principles of economic evaluation as applied to healthcare interventions and health care financing. The core part of the course focuses on economic evaluation and covers the different types of evaluations that are available and the various stages and techniques that need to be applied to generate results. As alternative techniques are described, the strength and weakness of each will be highlighted, with the students being encouraged to critically appraise their appropriateness to different contexts. The course also introduces the concepts of markets and market failure, models of health care financing and objectives of health care systems.

15 credits
Further Statistics for Health Science Researchers

The unit covers fundamental statistical concepts, and both simple statistical methods and the more widely used advanced methods of multiple regression, survival analysis and generalised linear models. It will be a practical module, including the teaching of the statistical software SPSS, equipping students with the knowledge and skills necessary to design and analyse a study to answer specific research questions; to understand and critically appraise the literature; and to present research findings in a suitable fashion.

15 credits
The Sociology of Health and Illness

The sociology of health and illness module involves studying how society is structured by looking at the patterns of relationships that have an existence over and above individuals. In this respect it looks at how health is distributed as a consequence of how people are related to each other in a number of ways. This involves looking at how, for example social class, and gender relations result in varying patterns and experiences of health.

The module goes well beyond this however. In this module you will also undertake a journey to study social organisation. What this means is that you will be looking at how the collective ideas of, for example health, can shape what we think is good and bad about health. We will be exploring how our very ideas about health can be controlled and manipulated, and how these ideas are historically located.

Beyond this sociology is also the study of what things mean to people. A large part of the sociology of health involves understanding how people relate to each other both rationally and emotionally through what things mean for them. Not only this but we will explore how the meaning of health can shape encounters with various health professionals including doctors, health promoters, dentists and various different therapists.

15 credits
Contemporary Health Psychology and Behaviour Change

Health Psychology is a rapidly growing field of study as there is increasing awareness amongst health professionals of the need to focus on social and psychosocial as well as biomedical aspects of illness. This module provides an introduction to contemporary research in this area, covering both traditional mainstream approaches and newly emerging critical studies. Topics covered include: models and approaches within health psychology; psychological approaches to understanding and changing health behaviour; the experiential aspects of illness; patient-provider communication; stress and health; and the application and relevance of contemporary work in global and cultural context.

15 credits

Optional modules - You may also take one from:

Systematic Reviews and Critical Appraisal Techniques

To familiarise students with principles of systematic reviews and critical appraisal and the acquisition of skills necessary to undertake such work. The unit includes an introduction to information systems; principles of systematic literature reviews and critical appraisal; search strategies; computer-assisted search methods; practicalities of writing up the results of a systematic review; introduction to Meta- analysis; and dissemination of findings.

15 credits
Systematically Reviewing the Research Literature

Delivered by online learning, this module aims to demonstrate the importance of reviewing the literature systematically regardless of whether or not the desired end product is a formal systematic review. The module will equip students with skills for lifelong acquisition and synthesis of evidence from research. Please note that the module is about applying systematic review methods to conducting a literature review, drawing examples from health research, with supporting examples from social care, information science, education, management, and computer science. Students from disciplines outside of the above areas may not benefit from the module, particularly if systematic review is not an established methodology in your topic area.

15 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's 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. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.


  • 1 year, full-time

If you're interested in studying this course on a part-time basis, please contact the department for further information.


Materials will be delivered in a variety of formats designed to enhance the learning experience. These include formal lectures, seminars, tutorials, small group discussions, online screencasts, videos and podcasts, alongside guided reading and case studies.

Your career

After successfully completing your course, graduates have had the opportunity to secure roles in clinical research within clinical practice, research positions within clinical and health care organisations, academic research and research teaching roles or alternatively they have taken on further Doctoral and PhD study.

Our graduates now work in many healthcare settings, as well as universities around the world and Medical Research Organisations (MRO) including NAMSA and PRA Healthcare.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 honours degree in a clinical subject or equivalent professional qualification and experience.

Applications for the NIHR route are only accepted from doctors and dental practitioners enrolled as Academic Clinical Fellows in the local NHS Deanery.

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

+44 114 222 5454

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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