Clinical Research (MSc/Diploma/Certificate)

For general enquiries about this course contact us at or call (+44) 0114 2225454.
You can contact the course director, Dr Liz Croot, for course-specific enquiries at

Photo by FabioBalbi, iStock photo ID:75322575

Key Information

Programme Starts
  • September 2017
  • Intro Week: 18-23 September
  • Teaching starts: 25 September
Modes and duration
  • Full time: 1 year
  • Part time: 2-5 years
  • Part-time mode of study available for Diploma, PGCert and MSc routes.

  • UK/EU: £7,500 (FT)
  • Overseas: £19,500 (FT)
Entry requirements
English language requirements
  • IELTS minimum of 6.5 overall with minimum 6.0 in each component (or equivalent)

Contact Us

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About the course

The MSc in Clinical Research at the University of Sheffield is a Master's Programme designed to equip graduates with the knowledge and skills to pursue a career in clinical research. This course is well suited to healthcare professionals with an interest in clinical research.

There are two routes that can be followed for this MSc, each of which is applicable to different groups of students.

Both routes include generic core modules which cover a range of topics to enable students to plan and undertake clinical research. In addition there are a number of optional modules that cover a wide range of relevant topics from which the student can choose the modules most suitable for their specific research needs.

Course philosophy
  1. Authentic learning
  2. Social learning
  3. Variety

Authentic learning
This is a key principle that drives the content of all modules. It means that we use real-world, real-life, up-to-date case studies, examples and scenarios. Students can immediately see how their learning is "authentic" and applicable to their own working life, now and in the future. The focus is therefore not only to impart or communicate to students fundamental concepts, ideas and critical understandings of clinical research, but to contextualise this with real life examples. This way, students can see exactly how what they are learning can be applied to their own work.

Social learning
Learning is social. We learn from each other as much as from purely independent study. The sharing of ideas and the opportunity to debate and discuss has been demonstrated to enhance the learning process, and is a key means of developing, refining and challenging our own evolving ideas. This course uses multiple tools to deliver content and facilitate interaction with and between tutors and students, including lectures, group tutorials, and small group discussions as well as using online facilities including: screencasts, discussion tools and blogs for discussion and collaboration.

The majority of course materials are heavily supplemented, where appropriate, with additional literature, videos, screencasts, internet-based materials, and the use of interactive online tools.

Aims and Objectives

The MSc in Clinical Research aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the processes and techniques involved in clinical research. In addition this MSc will equip students with the required skills to undertake high quality, independent research in a clinical setting.

This course specifically aims to:

  • Equip students with the knowledge and skills required to initiate and complete high quality, methodologically sound and ethical clinical research;
  • Enable students to review and critically appraise the methods and results of existing research, and understand the implications for clinical practice;
  • Give students experience of working as part of a team in clinical and biomedical research settings.
Why study at ScHARR?

ScHARR was confirmed as the most powerful UK university department for health services research and health technology assessment in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. The School has the largest concentration of world-class and international researchers, above other leading universities such as the London School of Hygiene, York and Manchester. Within ScHARR you will be taught by some of the world's leading scholars in these fields, and benefit from an environment in which teaching and research go hand-in-hand.

The course is co-ordinated and taught by module leaders and tutors with an established track record in health-related research, and mentors based in clinical research teams and clinical research facilities. ScHARR's MSc in Clinical Research features core and optional modules that cover a wide range of relevant topics from which the student can choose the most appropriate for their specific needs.

During the taught component, students will study alongside those taking a range of other health research programmes. This enables students to benefit from a range of options, and enhance their experiences by participation in a large multi-disciplinary student body.

How this course is taught

The MSc can be studied full time over 1 year or part time over 2 years for the National Institute Health Research (NIHR) routes and for the standard route the course can be completed in 2-5 years.

To complete the MSc clinical research a total of 180 credits need to be achieved. 135 of these credits are made up of core modules and the final dissertation. The remaining 45 credits can be chosen from optional modules to suit the clinical research needs of the individual student.

Depending on the course route taken the core and optional modules available differ slightly. See the individual routes for details.

The MSc Clinical Research is a taught degree, written by leaders in the field of clinical research in the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR). Each module will provide opportunities for students to work with staff from ScHARR and as a student group.

Materials will be delivered in a variety of formats which are designed to enhance the learning experience. These include formal lectures, tutorials, small group discussions, online screencasts, videos and podcasts, alongside guided reading and case studies. Some of the modules are available in a distance learning format and all of them are supplemented by online material.

We recommend that students on this course spend approximately 150 hours of study, over the course of the semester, for each 15 credit module. This is equivalent to about 1.5 days study time per week and includes lectures, tutorials, self-study and assessments.

You will use the University's My Online Learning Environment (MOLE) in addition to your face-to-face teaching. MOLE enables you to access all of the course materials, to interact and collaborate with fellow students and tutors outside of the class room setting and to complete and submit formative and summative exercises and assessments.

Course team

This course is taught by senior staff, all of whom are actively engaged in clinical research and teaching. The academic, teaching, technical and administrative support is provided by University of Sheffield members of staff together with contributions, where appropriate, from other experts in particular fields.

The main contacts for this course are:

Core Staff

Liz Croot (Course director and Practical Aspects of Clinical Research Module leader)

I am the course director for the MSc in Clinical Research and am module leader for 'Practical Aspects of Clinical Research'. I joined the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield as a research fellow in 2001 and completed a qualitative PhD about the experiences of Pakistani parents living in Sheffield and caring for children with high support needs in 2005. This was funded by an NHS Executive (Trent) Health Services Research Training Fellowship. Prior to this I worked as a paediatric physiotherapist specialising in work with children with learning disabilities for 12 years. During this time I worked in a number of different countries including Bangladesh and the USA.

I am currently leading a study funded by the South Yorkshire Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC-SY) exploring factors that patients consider to be associated with successful secondary prevention of stroke.

More information...

Sarah Barnes (Introduction to Research Methods Module Lead)

I joined the University of Sheffield in 2000 as a Research Associate in Sheffield Institute for Studies in Ageing (SISA). Here I worked on the multi-disciplinary EPSRC-funded project Design in Caring Environments (DICE), a study of quality of life and building design in residential and nursing care homes for older people. During this time I completed my PhD which explored space, choice and control in care settings for older people and its relationship to resident quality of life. Following on from this I successfully managed a three year, multi-method, longitudinal study identifying the need for end of life care among older people with heart failure and their families, funded by the Department of Health. This was the first study to recruit a large, community-based sample of heart failure patients in the UK. New methods of identifying heart failure patients from primary care records were used to recruit over 500 heart failure patients from a number of GP practices.

In January 2007 I began working in ScHARR as a Lecturer in Public Health where I have retained my commitment to interdisciplinary/cross departmental research collaboration.

More information...

Cindy Cooper (Module leader Randomised Controlled Trials)

I am currently Director of the Clinical Trials Research Unit (CTRU) at ScHARR. After graduating in Pharmacology and Physiology from the University of Manchester and completing my PhD in neuropharmacology at the University of Nottingham, I worked at Sheffield and West Yorkshire Health Authorities in clinical audit and health needs assessment. I joined ScHARR in 1996 to establish the North Trent Research Office, to provide support to local NHS organisations in developing research strategy and obtaining research funding. The remit of the CTRU is to support the design and implementation of clinical trials of complex health interventions. I am also Chair of the Yorkshire & Humber Regional Funding Committee for Research for Patient Benefit.
I am based in the Design, Trials & Statistics Section.
More information...

Sarah Crede

I joined ScHARR in September 2013 working as a University Teacher in Health Services research. I am the course tutor for the MSc Clinical Research and am involved in the teaching of the Introduction to Statistics module. I have a background in Epidemiology and physiotherapy and have worked clinically in South Africa and in the UK. I have been involved in various research projects in South Africa and Africa which have covered various areas of interest namely: women's health, foetal alcohol syndrome and the impact healthcare technologies have on low-resource settings. Prior to joining ScHARR I was the research manager for a non-profit organization based in Cape Town.

Evangelos Kritsotakis (Introduction to Statistics module leader)

I joined the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield as a Lecturer in Epidemiology and Statistics in June 2014. I co-ordinate and teach the Introduction to Statistics module for the MSc in Clinical Research, and the Statistics and Epidemiology lecture series in Phase 1 of the Undergraduate Medical Degree (MBChB). I also co-lead the distance learning module in Communicable Disease Control (Master of Public Health) and contribute to the teaching of Epidemiology (Master of Public Health & MSc in Clinical Research).

My research focus has been on statistical and epidemiological principles and methods to evaluate and improve the delivery of hospital care, including the epidemiology of healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic use and the control of the transmission of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

More information

Nasrin Nasr

I am a physiotherapist by background. I was awarded my PhD in patient-reported outcome measures from Sheffield Hallam University in 2007. I joined the Centre for Health and Social Care Research at Hallam University in 2008 and seconded to the ScHARR in 2009. I started a substantive position as research associate in the ScHARR and within the Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology group in January 2012.

More information...

Steven Ariss

I have a BA in Sociology, a PhD in Health Studies from the University of York and a PgCert in Learning and Teaching. I previously coordinated an NHS Research Network for Older People´s Mental Health and came to ScHARR from the Bradford Dementia Group (University of Bradford) in January 2009.

I am a health services researcher with an interest in qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods, and complex programme evaluation (including Realist and Developmental Evaluation). I was the Lead Evaluator for the CLAHRC-South Yorkshire programme and am leading the evaluation of new technologies in the combined Yorkshire and Humber CLAHRC. I also have a diverse ongoing programme of research, development, evaluation and service redesign in the use of technology for healthcare, including automated data collection, electronic care records and online dashboard development. I also have an interest in using Patient Reported Experience Measures (PREMS) for service improvement, and carry out qualitative data analysis for the National Audit for Intermediate Care.

More information...

Administrative support

You can contact the course administrator, Matt Scarbrough at

External Examiner

The External Examiner for the course is Professor Paola Dey, Professor of Public Health Epidemiology at the University of Central Lancashire.

Online open days

The online open days are an opportunity for you to learn more about the course and how it will be taught.

Course structure

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.

All modules account for 15 credits unless stated otherwise. You will be required to take 45 credits worth of optional modules.

   Standard Route
   NIHR Route for Academic Clinical Fellows in Medicine and Dentistry

Core modules

Route Title Leader Semester
    HAR6030* Introduction to Research Methods Emma Wilson Autumn
  HAR6043* Introduction to Research Methods Online Sarah Crede Autumn
    HAR6035 Introduction to Statistics and Critical Appraisal Stephen Walters Autumn
    HAR674* Randomised Controlled Trials Cindy Cooper Spring
HAR6116* Randomised Control Trials to Support Reimbursement Decision Making Online Katie Biggs and Chin Maguire Autumn
(30 credits)
Practical Aspects of Clinical Research Emily Wood Autumn (DL) and Spring
(60 credits)
Dissertation Sarah Crede Summer
(60 credits)*
Research placement and portfolio Tim Chico - Based in Medical School Spring/ Summer

* ACF & AF students can take either HAR6030 or HAR6043, not both.
The same applies for HAR6116/HAR674 and HAR6024/MED6100

Optional modules

Route Title Leader Semester
    HAR6501* Systematic Review and Critical Appraisal Sue Harnan Spring
    HAR619* Epidemiology Hannah Jordan Autumn
    HAR6531 Qualitative Research Design and Analysis Richard Cooper Spring
    HAR655 Public Health Informatics Helen Buckley-Woods Spring
    HAR6029* Systematically Reviewing the Research Literature (Online) Anthea Sutton & Jo Leaviss Autumn
    HAR6041 Health Needs Assessment, Planning and Evaluation Julie Dickinson Autumn
    HAR687 Economic Evaluation and Healthcare Financing
Clara Mukuria Spring
    HAR6045* Further Statistics for Health Science Researchers Jeremy Dawson Spring
HAR6048* Epidemiology (Online) Hannah Jordan Autumn
HAR6061* Further Statistics for Health Science Researchers (Online) Jeremy Dawson Spring
HAR6062 Evaluation Methods for Complex Settings
Steven Ariss and Nasrin Nasr Spring
    DEN601 Research Methods in Clinical Dentistry Based in School of Dentistry Autumn
HAR6064 Knowledge Mobilisation in Healthcare
Tom Sanders Autumn
HAR6016 Sociology of Health and Illness
Jennifer Burr Spring
HAR680 Contemporary Health Psychology and Behaviour Change Emma Hock Spring

* You can choose either HAR6501 or HAR6029, not both.
The same applies for HAR619/HAR6048 and HAR6045/HAR6061

Students wishing to take HAR6045/HAR6061 must have passed HAR6035/HAR6042 

2017-18 Clinical Research Taught timetable

Our students

Student testimonials

image of natalie jonesThe masters in clinical research has been a golden standard experience. The course brings together health professionals from a variety of backgrounds with an interest in research, it provides rich opportunities for shared learning and and builds links with health research teams based in ScHARR. The teaching staff provide an environment for debate, challenge and inspiration to develop research ideas for your dissertation. Being a student in ScHARR you feel part of the team and have opportunities to contribute to innovative health related research.

Natalie Jones (Clinical Research graduate)

image of mark jayesThe MClinRes provided a springboard for me to pursue a career in clinical research. I received excellent training in a range of research methods, a great introduction to local and national research infrastructure and a brilliant opportunity to carry out my own original research project which has since been published. Completing the MClinRes was instrumental to my securing a secondment to the NIHR CLAHRC to gain more skills and experience and definitely helped me when I successfully applied for an NIHR / HEE Clinical Doctoral Research fellowship to complete my PhD.

Mark Jayes (Clinical Research graduate)

Career opportunities

Our students are seeking to develop key skills to enhance their careers within clinical research, both in the UK and globally and typically already work in the following areas:

Our students typically go on to work in the following areas:

  • Research positions in the NHS and other healthcare settings
  • Higher research training – PhD
  • PhD fellowships through NIHR

Who will benefit from studying this course?

This MSc is suited to all those working, or aspiring to work, in the field of clinical research nationally or internationally, whether for the National Health Service, or an equivalent public or private organisation.

For those aspiring to work in the field, the course will provide the comprehensive training needed to gain a position on a clinical research team, to undertake independent clinical research and to critically evaluate clinical research undertaken by others and its clinical implications.

(3 years, all ScHARR courses, response rate 58.5%) data available in full at
(choose MSc/Clinical Research in the course dropdown menu)

When does the course start?

The course starts in September each year. You can find the semester dates here.

Do I get academic credit for taking a single module?

Yes. Each module is accredited by the University of Sheffield. You will receive credits from the University, which you can use towards gaining the full MSc.

Single modules can only be taken in the Semester in which they are to be delivered. Please see the course structure section for details.

What is the course structure?

This depends on the route you are taking. Please see the course structure section for more details.

How long will it take me to complete the MSc Clinical Research programme?

The length of time allowed to complete the MSc depends on the route taken:

What experience do staff who teach on the course have?

The course will be taught by academic staff from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, mainly coming from within ScHARR (the School of Health and Related Research).

All staff involved in developing and delivering this course are active in clinical research teaching and/or research within the UK. The core interest of the teaching team is in equipping students to become competent and confident clinical researchers who will enhance the quality of research teams undertaking clinical research.

Students will be taught by staff coming from a wide range of disciplines including: Health service researchers, public health specialists, healthcare professionals, epidemiologists, information scientists and systematic reviewers and statisticians.

How will the course be taught?

The MSc Clinical Research is a taught degree. Many of the modules are face-to-face taught modules and attendance at lectures and tutorials is strongly encouraged. Some modules are available in a distance learning format to enable students with clinical commitments to successfully complete the MSc. In addition, all students will use the University's virtual learning environment (MOLE) to enable you to access all of the course and supplementary materials and to interact and collaborate with fellow students and tutors outside of the formal classroom environment.

How much does it cost?

Please see the page about fees and funding for more information.

Note that the fees are not the same for home and overseas applicants.

What do I need to be accepted on the course?

Usually, a good first degree (2:1 equivalent or better) is needed in a related subject. However, applicants without this may be considered on a case-by-case basis dependent on other qualifications and work experience. See our Applying page for details

If English is not your first language, ScHARR requires an IELTS score of 7.0 with 6.5 in each component or equivalent gained within the last 2 years will be required. Please note this is higher than other than other University of Sheffield courses. See the pages on English language requirements for information on other acceptable English language qualifications.

Most of all, you need to be enthusiastic: to be keen to develop you knowledge and skills in clinical research, to learn from your fellow students and the faculty and to share your learning and knowledge with us.

How do I apply?

You will need to apply using the University's postgraduate online system by completing the online form.

Read through the information on the ScHARR Applying page before applying.

When can I apply?

We welcome applications for a September start date throughout the academic year for the standard route MSc Clinical Research but we encourage applicants to apply in good time. Students applying for the NIHR route should note the deadline for applications is available here. ACFs on the Medicine and Dentistry route will be contacted separately about their applications.

When would I register and begin my studies?

Registration for full-time students takes place in Intro Week. Part-time students can register online, although they are also welcome to attend Intro Week. Further information about registration is available here and here. Semester dates can be found here

Can I talk to someone about the course?

Yes. Please email the course administrator, Matt Scarbrough at who will be happy to answer your queries or will be able to direct your query to the most appropriate member of staff.