MSc Applied Health Services Research

Duration Full time 1 year
Part time 2-3 years
  • Healthcare and Medicine
LocationExeter (St Luke‘s)
Start date September


The global burden of disease and challenges of safe and accessible health services means that more than ever practitioners and researchers need skills for developing, testing, evaluating and implementing evidence-based health care in highly complex situations.

This programme provides you with the skills and knowledge to tackle these challenges.

You will be taught by the leading international experts and authors in complex interventions research methods. Topics such as patient and public involvement, collaborative working, evidence-based practice, complex interventions, health economics, clinical trials and medical statistics will provide a common thread that runs throughout the programme.

Programme structure

Modules and Delivery

The programme has been designed to be flexible and well-defined with four integrated and mandatory modules (each 30 Masters level credits) plus a dissertation (60 Masters level credits) that can be studied on a part-time or full-time basis. A blended approach to learning will be achieved through taught sessions, bespoke tutorials, research exchange visits and practical exercises. All learning will be supported by online resources and moderated activities on the University of Exeter’s electronic learning environment (ELE). Expert tutors and guest lecturers will represent an appropriately diverse range of clinical and research backgrounds. 


Teaching for the programme takes place over one full day for the part-time route, or two full days for the full-time route. Teaching will take place between 9am and 5pm, however specific times may vary from module-to-module. Each module runs over 1 academic term, with 11 contact days per module timetabled with teaching staff.

Module What will be covered Focus of assessment Academic lead
Core Concepts & Paradigms
  • Health services & systems
  • Complex interventions
  • Systematic reviews
  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Patient and public involvement

Appraise the Evidence

Dr Rob Anderson

 Implementation Science
  • Diffusion of innovations
  • Behaviour change
  • Quality improvement and indicators
  • Surveillance and intervention mapping
  • Environmental impact and sustainability
Plan an Implementation Strategy Dr Mark Pearson
Fundamentals of Health Services Research Methods
  • Ethics and governance
  • Research questions
  • Outcome measures and survey design
  • Qualitative methods
  • Statistics
  • Health Economics
  • Modelling in Health and Social Care
Design a Research Study Dr Julia Frost
Advanced Health Services Research Methods
  • Observational study designs
  • Clinical trials design (including feasibility and pilot studies)
  • Adapting methods to complex situation
  • Process evaluation (qualitative, quantitative methods)
  • Statistics (advanced techniques)
  • Health economics (advanced)
  • Qualitative methods – secondary data analysis and qualitative synthesis
  • Designing a research protocol
Write a Research Proposal Dr Jose Valderas Martinez
Independent Study
  • Undertake a piece of empirical or theoretical research using secondary or primary data supported by a named supervisor

Research Project (Dissertation)

Dr Vicki Goodwin and Dr Rebecca Abbott

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

The taught component of this programme is delivered in the first two terms (one year programme) or five terms (two year programme). During this time you will also be helped to develop a dissertation project to be completed in the remaining six months.

Teaching and learning methods

All material is designed for Masters level and will involve keynote lectures, case studies, seminars and group discussion. Within modules there is considerable scope for you to direct your learning towards fields of particular interest, especially through your choice of dissertation project and in your guided independent study.


Taught modules will be assessed through literature reviews, essays, written reports and presentations. We use case studies and problem-based learning approaches to encourage you to work collaboratively and learn from each other.

Advice and support

One-to-one tutorials with module leads are timetabled into each of the four taught modules to ensure students gain personalise support. The Programme Lead is also available to help with further guidance and advice.


University of Exeter Medical School offers a range of Continuing Professional Development opportunities with the aim to improve health outcomes in the region and to facilitate real change in the quality of clinical care and health for individuals and the wider community.

Our continuing professional development courses are inspired by research and triggered by the complex needs and priorities of local, national and global health and care systems. You can learn and develop with us through a range of focused short courses, workshops, and education days that will meet your continuing professional development needs. 

Current short courses in the area of Applied Health Services Research

For a full list of our Continuing Professional Development opportunities, please visit our CPD pages. Please book early as places are limited.

Contact us

We are here to help you with specialist advice, guidance and support when you need a more individual service.

Please contact us at or 01392 722964.




This programme is designed to enable health professionals from a variety of disciplines to gain expertise, in order to become a more effective and confident practitioner. It is suitable for medical researchers, academic clinical fellows, nurses, midwives, allied healthcare professionals and public health professionals. This course is also suitable for graduates without clinical training (e.g. psychologists, sociologists) who wish to gain a comprehensive grounding in health services research methods as a platform for developing a career as a health researcher. Flexible part-time delivery enables study around existing commitments.

All University of Exeter students have access to Career Zone, which gives access to a wealth of business contacts, support and training as well as the opportunity to meet potential employers at our regular Careers Fairs.


This programme is delivered at our St Luke’s Campus, which is home to the University of Exeter Medical School. The campus is a short walk from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and offers a range of research facilities and equipment. Students will be able to access resources used by our Institute of Health Research.

Entry requirements 2017

Normally a minimum 2.2 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. Relevant clinical or professional experience may be taken into consideration as evidence of equivalency.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.


Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2017/18

For 2017/18, fees will be charged pro rata per 30-credit module for UK/EU students. Fees are subject to an annual increment each academic year.

  • UK/EU: £7,950 full-time
  • International: £19,150 full-time

Pro Rata Module fees

Fees per 15 credit module:
UK/EU: £665

Pro Rata Module fees for 2016/17
Fees per 15 credit module:
UK/EU: £645
International: £1,550

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.


As part of the NHS Research Innovation and Improvement Capability Project there may be a limited number of funded places available on this programme for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals who work in the following areas:

  • Patients and clients with dementia
  • Meeting the needs of the frail elderly
  • Delivering care closer to home

To find out more visit the Health Education South West website for more information.

There are various funding opportunities available including the Medical School's Global excellence scholarships. For more information visit our Masters funding page.

Contact us

Phone: +44 (0)1392 725500