Healthcare Commissioning MSc/PGCert/PGDip

Following the passage of the Health and Social Care Act, this new MSc/Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Commissioning is designed specifically for clinical commissioners, all those involved in new CCGs and emerging commissioning support organisations.

Download the MSc Programme brochure 2016 (PDF)

Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes nor to the immigration status of prospective EU students starting in 2016/17 and 2017/18. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

Although fully tailored to the current policy context, these programmes build on previous successful programmes such as the MSc in Health Care Commissioning delivered for NHS London and NHS West Midlands, the UK’s first MSc in Public Service Commissioning (delivered jointly with the Institute of Local Government Studies) and a series of local and regional commissioning development programmes delivered throughout the country.

The Healthcare Commissioning programme is available as a Full Masters programme, or as a Postgraduate Certificate or a Postgraduate Diploma.

Programme structure

The MSc programme is offered on a full-time (1 year) or part-time (2 year) basis, and consists of three compulsory modules, three optional modules and a dissertation.

The Postgraduate Diploma is offered on a full-time (1 year) or part-time (2 year) basis, and consists of four compulsory modules and two optional modules.

Each module involves approximately 30 hours contact time. To aid those travelling from distance, modules are delivered in units (for example, 5 consecutive days, or units of three and two consecutive days).

Central to the programmes are the three compulsory modules:

All three modules are required for the Postgraduate Certificate.

The Postgraduate Diploma requires the addition of any three optional modules from HSMC's programme.

The MSc requires a 10,000 word dissertation on a subject relating to Healthcare Commissioning.

Why study this course

Health Services Management Centre

The Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) is the leading UK organisation providing research, teaching, professional development and consultancy to health and social care agencies. It serves as a bridge between managers and practitioners in health care and the academic world of research and theory, and many of its staff have experience as senior managers in the field. HSMC has gained a unique reputation as a “critical friend” to the health care community, striving for both relevance and rigour. HSMC belongs to the University of Birmingham College of Social Sciences. The College brings together over 429 academics (including 83 professors) and almost 200 administrative staff across a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields. The College’s mission is to ‘generate new knowledge about society, and to transform this in ways that improve well-being.’

The University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham was founded in 1900 and is a member of the Russell Group of leading UK universities. It is currently ranked among the top five research institutions in the UK, and its teaching quality ratings average 22 on a 24 point scale.

As shadow CCGs are set up and authorised, there will be an urgent need for training and development for clinical commissioners and those who support them. Although policy emphasises the importance of ‘commissioning’, it has not always enjoyed the infrastructure necessary to equip healthcare commissioners with the right skills and knowledge – and formal, well established development opportunities can be rare. In accessing such support, clinical commissioners will need to balance existing workloads and  commitments with the training they need to adapt to new roles – and a PG Certificate/Diploma offers scope to get the best of both worlds the programme consists of:


Strategic Commissioning, Decision-making and Priority Setting, and Procurement and Market Management

Strategic Commissioning

Module Lead(s): Mark Exworthy; Yvonne Sawbridge

This module examines the origins and impact of the commissioning agenda – in health care and in other sectors. It explores prior experience of and existing research about the outcomes of clinical commissioning, before moving to explore different elements of the commissioning cycle: assessing need and demand for services; making decisions and setting priorities; ensuring quality; and involving the public in commissioning activities.

Decision-making and Priority-setting

Module Lead(s): Iestyn Williams; Catherine Needham; Jenny Harlock

A key element of commissioning is the ability to assess needs, understand competing priorities and make decisions about how financial resources should be invested to best improve health outcomes. In addition to technical skills, this also requires an awareness of the principles of public value, of political and negotiation skills and of how national policy is made, disseminated and implemented. Against this background, key topics in this module include: methods of needs assessment and outcome measurement; quality of life measurement and economic evaluation; multi-criteria decision analysis; the policy process and political/organisational influences on decisions; clinical leadership and decisionmaking; and evidence-based policy and practice.

Procurement and Market Management

Module Lead(s):  Russell Mannion; Robin Miller

In the current context, health care commissioners are increasingly being asked to stimulate and manage a market, working with a much more mixed economy of service providers. Although this has long been a requirement in some public services (for example, some areas of local government), it is a relatively new challenge in the NHS. Such issues are also acquiring much greater significance in the midst of a very challenging financial context. In addition, commissioning organisations are being tasked with securing greater procurement skills and demonstrating greater understanding of the principles of supply chain management, with many looking towards private sector sources of expertise. Against this background, this module draws on the health care experience of HSMC and the broader procurement and supply chain management literature in order to respond to this agenda.

The optional modules are drawn from HSMC's programmes and include:

The dissertation is awarded the final 60 credits. The dissertation is a 10,000 word research project. This can be based on literature, or a primary research study. Dissertation study days are held each year, and all students are allocated a supervisor to support them through the self-directed piece of work.

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can help you make other choices.

Fees and funding

Fees for 2017-2018:

UK/EU full-time Code: 028B £10,710
UK/EU part-time Code: 029B £5,355
Overseas full-time £17,820
UK/EU full-time Code: 030B £9,300
Overseas full-time Code 030B: £13,680

PGCert (part-time only)
UK/EU part-time Code: 8018 £4,650

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

A new postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK was introduced for students commencing their studies in the 2016-17 academic year. The government-backed student loans provide up to £10,000 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas, including part-time and distance learning. For more detailed information view our Postgraduate funding page

Learn more about fees and funding

Studentships Contact: Jose Adkins, Postgraduate Programmes Coordinator, tel: +44 (0)121 414 2280, email:  International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Learn more about Scholarships for international students.

Entry requirements

For entry to the Masters programme you should normally have an undergraduate degree of at least an upper second standard or an equivalent professional qualification. However, if you do not have a degree or professional qualification then previous research or career experience may also be taken into account. In addition to the above, applicants to the LHSI programme must be in employment in a healthcare-related organisation at the time of programme commencement in order to optimise the application of theory and the action learning elements of the programme.

Learn more about entry requirements 

International students:

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Our programmes provide a challenging and inspiring study experience for both existing and aspiring practitioners in health and social care organisations. They equip participants with the knowledge, skills and confidence to develop both their careers and organisations. HSMC staff bring their wide knowledge of UK and international health systems (gained through research and consultancy activities, as well as their own professional experience) to their teaching and tutorial support for students.

This emphasis on combining theory and practice is maintained throughout all of our programmes, from the choice of titles for assignments, through the involvement of practitioners and policy makers in teaching activities, to the topics selected for dissertations.

While some students choose to concentrate on theoretical topics, many students carry out empirical studies for their dissertation, often related to their own place of work or area of professional expertise.


Postgraduate programmes are taught at Park House which is a short walk from the centre of the University campus and provides a comfortable and well-appointed study environment. Facilities include:

Just a few steps away is the University’s Conference Park, which provides an excellent hotel environment for those wishing to be residential for taught modules.

HSMC students have access to the University’s main library and substantial online journals, databases and other materials via Canvas. A Programme Handbook provides comprehensive advice and information, and a separate handbook is provided for each module.

Participants are assigned an academic tutor to guide them through their studies and bespoke dissertation workshops are held throughout the year. Students are encouraged to engage as much as possible with HSMC staff and to participate in other events such as conferences, seminars and workshops. Part-time participants are encouraged to enlist a work-based mentor to provide assistance with their dissertations and translating their learning back into the workplace.

If you require further information about any of our courses, please telephone 0121 414 2280 or email