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    MSc PG Certificate PG Diploma
    2024 start September 

    Clinical Research

    School of Medicine and Population Health, Faculty of 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.
    MSc Clinical Research

    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.


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

    Clinical Research vs Health and Clinical Research Delivery

    We offer two different courses in the field of health research: the Masters in Clinical Research (MClinRes), delivered on campus, and the MSc in Health and Clinical Research Delivery, which is delivered remotely. If you're not sure which course to take, use the table below to help you. 

    Which course should I take?

    Consideration MClinRes (Campus) HCRD (online)
    I want to study part-time. Yes Yes
    I want to study full-time. Yes No
    I want to study remotely with maximum flexibility around my working commitments. No Yes
    I would like some in-person contact with tutors and other students. Yes No
    I want to be involved in delivering NIHR portfolio studies (recruiting to studies I did not design, engaging service users, and involvement in site set-up roles like R&D) Yes Yes
    I want to be a local principal investigator (responsible for study delivery) in my NHS trust, health or care organisation. Yes Yes
    I want to design my own research and lead national funding applications. Yes No
    I want to be a co-applicant on national research funding applications or lead local funding bids. Yes Yes
    I am interested in leading the embedding of research into my local NHS trust, health or care organisation and increasing its research activity. Yes Yes
    I am interested in becoming an independent academic/clinical academic and wish to pursue PhD study. Yes Yes
    I would like to follow a standardised masters programme. No Yes
    I would like to tailor my masters programme by selecting modules most relevant to my learning needs and research interests. Yes No
    I would like the opportunity to observe how research is delivered in practice through a placement No Yes

    Use the link below to view the  Health and Clinical Research Delivery course:


    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    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 is offered across several programmes. Learning activities for the module are tailored to your individual specialist areas to provide learning that is relevant and specific to your chosen degree programme.

    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 research 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

    This module is offered across several programmes. Learning activities for the module are tailored to your individual specialist areas to provide learning that is relevant and specific to your chosen degree programme.

    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. You will be provided with the knowledge and skills required for identifying a knowledge gap, developing a research question, selecting a suitable research design, and conducting an independent piece of research to completion. You will be able to select a dissertation topic of your own interest and a research type (primary data collection,  secondary data analysis, literature review). You can also select projects offered by staff members.

    The dissertation should demonstrate competence in the following areas, as applicable to your chosen specialism and dissertation topic; -Critically appraising and interpreting published literature; -Collecting and using data and information to answer a nutrition or clinical research question; .

    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 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. These topics draw on economic theory and use it to identify possible solutions to health system problems. Health system performance measurement will also be covered, linking the economic and health system content to empirical studies.

    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. 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. We will explore how the meaning of health can shape encounters with various health professionals including doctors, health promoters, dentists and various different therapists. The module does not require any prior knowledge of sociology and is structured for students who are not from a social science background.  However, we do welcome students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds.

    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 Online

    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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    Find out what makes us special at our next online open day on Wednesday 17 April 2024.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    • 1 year, full-time
    • 2–3 years part-time

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


    You will learn through lectures, seminars, tutorials, small group discussions, online screencasts, videos, podcasts, guided reading and case studies. There is an alternative dissertation route that is encouraged for NIHR Academic Clinical Fellows.


    You will be assessed through written assignments and, if you do the MSc programme, a dissertation.

    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

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree or a relevant medical degree.

    We may also consider your application if you do not meet the standard academic requirements but have considerable relevant professional experience in a Health or social care-related area.

    We also accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

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

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


    You can apply now 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.