PgCert Health Services Improvement

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 healthcare in highly complex situations.

This programme has been designed to give you the skills and knowledge to enact meaningful change and gain a comprehensive grounding in health services research methods as a platform for developing a career as a health researcher.
This variation of the MSc Applied Health Services Research programme is for those seeking to undertake a piece of health services research and/or implement change in their clinical pathway.

It is suitable for those from a wide variety of backgrounds including:

• Science, social science, humanities and mathematics graduates
• BMBS Medicine students who wish to obtain an intercalated degree at Master’s level
• Medical researchers
• Academic clinical fellows
• Doctors, pharmacists, nurses and allied healthcare professionals wishing to develop their research skills.

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

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

Modules and Delivery

The programme has been designed to be flexible and well-defined with four integrated and compulsory modules of 15 credits. 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.


Each module is run over a four week cycle where the first week is spent working on introductory activities using a Virtual Learning Environment, the second week is spent in Exeter for the face to face teaching week (this takes place on the dates advertised), with two further weeks of personal study to consolidate your learning. Teaching will take place between 9am and 5pm, however specific times may vary from module-to-module.

Compulsory modules


Module Description Academic lead
Core Concepts in Applied Health Services Research Every discipline is built upon certain core concepts and accepted approaches for researching (methodology) and explaining the world (theories). The interdisciplinary endeavour of health services research is no exception, and spans the full range of qualitative and quantitative approaches.  So this introductory course will cover many of the key concepts and theories relevant to researching health care, including the principles and practice of patient and public involvement.   Dr Rob Anderson
Implementation Science Using evidence to inform change in health and social care requires knowledge about both effectiveness and implementation. In this module, Exeter researchers at the forefront of Implementation Science will prepare you to critically appraise the evidence and theory that will enable you to develop an implementation strategy in practice. Dr Mark Pearson
Evidence Synthesis  On this course you will examine how to frame and identify uncertainties in clinical practice, identify which review method is most appropriate for a review question and type of evidence and develop demonstrable competencies in all the necessary steps of systematic reviews/evidence syntheses. Dr Huiqin Yang 
Leading Change in health services Leadership is crucial for bringing together practitioners, managers, and service users in efforts to improve health care. In this module, Exeter clinicians and academics will prepare you to critically bring together Quality Improvement, routine data, communication techniques, and reflective practice to develop your own leadership strategy. Dr Mark Pearson

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.

Other related programmes

You may also be interested in our PgCert Methods of Applied Health Services Research. Modules covered are:

• Qualitative methods in applied health services research (15 credits)
• Statistics as Applied to Health (15 credits)
• Clinical Trials (15 credits)
• Health Economics (15 credits)

Completion of the eight modules in the PgCert Health Services Improvement and PgCert Methods of Applied Health Services Research, along with a dissertation module, would lead to the award of an MSc Applied Health Services Research.

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

Teaching and learning methods


Before the start of each module you will be provided with introductory materials.

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. 

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.

Click on a course of interest below for more information along with booking details and dates. Please book early as places are limited.

Current short courses in the area of Applied Health Services Research:

Advanced Health Economics

Health Statistics

Coming soon

  • Clinical Trials and Trials Management
  • Qualitative Research

For a full list of our Continuing Professional Development opportunities, please visit our CPD pages.



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, medical scientists, mathematicians, sociologists, economists) who wish to gain a comprehensive grounding in health services research methods as a platform for developing a career as a health services 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

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 2019/20

  • UK/EU:  Part-time £2,900 per annum over three years
  • International: Part-time £7,000 per annum over three years

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 £10,609 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.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2019.

Contact us

Phone: +44 (0)1392 725500
WebEnquire online

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