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Health Research Methods - MSc/PGDip/PGCert

Start date
Full-time, part-time, flexible
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

Annual tuition fee for 2024/25:
UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £23,310 full-time
More details


Health Research Methods MSc/Diploma/Certificate

Our most reliable knowledge about health, diseases and their treatment comes from high-quality research. This programme develops the skills you need to understand the critical elements in planning, undertaking and analysing research in health care - vital skills for anyone wanting to develop or enhance their career in health care and health-related research.


Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships

Our modules can be accessed in a variety of ways including as standalone modules (10 or 20 credits each) or through the 60 credit PG Certificate; 120 credit PG Diploma or the 180 credit Masters

If you wish to study this programme to Postgraduate Diploma level then you will need to complete the taught elements of the programme but will not need to complete a dissertation, which is only available to those studying for the Masters.

This modular multidisciplinary programme offers a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or a Masters in Health Research Methods and is particularly suitable for:

  • clinical and allied health professionals (including doctors, nurses, midwives, dietitians, physiotherapists)
  • laboratory-based scientists wishing to further understand or transition to population-based research
  • graduates looking to launch their career in health research
  • intercalating medical students who have completed at least three years of full-time study
  • those in the commercial health care sector (including the pharmaceutical or devices industries), public sector organisations (including local government), NGOs, voluntary sector and charities
  • foundation skills for postgraduate research programmes (including PhD)

The aims of the course are to provide a world class programme that meets the needs of those wanting or needing:

  • a detailed understanding of the range of methodologies and analyses utilised in applied health research
  • the necessary skills to critically interpret the findings of health research resulting from different methodologies.

MSc intercalation

Please note that this programme can be taken as an intercalated option for those studying MBChB Medicine and Surgery at another Institution. To apply for the Intercalated MSc Health Research Methods please fill in this registration form and we will be in touch with details about how to apply. For more information, please contact us on

Why study this course?

  • You will gain an advanced understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods in a global health care context. The programme provides in-depth knowledge and practical experience of the range of methodologies and analyses applied in health-related research and will enable critical interpretation of the findings of health research resulting from different methodologies
  • This programme is run and taught by researchers and lecturers actively involved in leading health research nationally and internationally.
  • The programme has a modular nature which allows the flexibility for participants to shape the programme to fit their needs and teaching takes place in one-week blocks.
  • The programme is delivered in a progressive dynamic environment of up-to-date health research that employs rigour, discipline, and high standards.
  • The University of Birmingham is a thriving and dynamic institution that combines over a century of heritage with one of the most compelling and ambitious agendas in higher education. It is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions for clinical, pre-clinical and health. With world-leading activity across a range of subjects, it remains one of the UK’s most broadly-based research-led universities.
  • The University has a particularly strong track record in Health Research and Health Research Methodology.


This modular multidisciplinary programme in Heath Research Methods offers a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits), Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) and a Masters in Health Research Methods (180 credits). This programme is vital for anyone wanting to develop or enhance their career in health care and health-related research.

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the range and application of research methods in health care
  • critical evaluation and interpretation of published literature
  • epidemiology, to a level that enables formulation of appropriate questions about health at a population level, the selection of appropriate techniques through which such questions can be addressed and the analysis, synthesis and presentation of the data collected
  • statistical tests and their proper use in the analysis of various types of data, to a level that will enable critical analysis of statistical approaches in the epidemiological and clinical trials literature and the correct application of statistics in their own project work

You will attain the ability to:

  • critically evaluate published literature, analyse and interpret data and devise areas for further study
  • design and undertake research in a relevant field
  • undertake self-directed learning and applying these skills in future work
  • appropriately synthesise and present existing and new research findings and concepts

The programme can be studied either full-time, part-time or over up to five years by flexible learning. Non UK/EU students may only study the programme on full-time basis.


Core modules:

You will study the following core modules:

Optional modules:

You will choose 80 credits from the list below.

Please note: some optional modules may have pre-requisites

Postgraduate Diploma

You will take the 120 credits from taught modules as per the Masters choices but will not complete the dissertation.

Postgraduate Certificate

You will obtain 60 credits from a choice of core and optional modules. You can transfer from the Certificate to Diploma and from Diploma to the Masters based on appropriate performance.

*These modules are available on a stand-alone basis. For more details click on the module title.




  • UK: £10,530 full-time; £5,265 part-time
  • International: £23,310 full-time; £11,655 part-time

Intercalation option:

  • UK: £16,290


  • UK: £7,020 full-time; part-time £3,510
  • International: £15,540 full-time


  • UK: £3,510 full-time
  • International: £7,770 full-time

Applicants will need to pay a £500 non-refundable deposit at the point of accepting an offer to study on the programme. The deposit is put towards payment of fees when students join the course.

Self funding students can choose to pay in instalments by direct debit.

Learn more about fees and funding.

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.


Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

As a UK resident you can apply for a government loan for postgraduate Masters study. This is a contribution towards the costs of study and whether the loan is used towards fees, maintenance or other costs will be at the discretion of the student.

Find out more about the Postgraduate Loan

How To Apply

How to apply for our taught postgraduate programmes

Application deadlines

The deadline for international students (including EU) to apply is 7 May 2024. The deadline for UK students is 30 August 2024.

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

Enthusiasm and commitment are vital, while formal entry requirements include:

  • usually a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in medicine, a life/ biological science or another relevant subject
  • an interest in health research methods
  • an interest in evidence-based healthcare

 On a case by case situation, we also consider:

  • other classes of degree and or relevant professional qualifications
  • experience of working in health or a related field

Applications are also welcome from UK medical students who wish to intercalate and have completed at least three years of full-time study.

Please note: applications are considered as they are received throughout the year with places awarded to candidates meeting the entry requirements as they are received. Therefore we suggest that overseas students apply early and applications will need to be received by June to enable enough time for processing.

Applications from UK students can be accepted until early August.

International Requirements



International Students

Academic requirements

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

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

English to IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in each component)

If you need help with your English language skills then support is available.

The English for Academic Purposes Presessional course is for international students who have a conditional offer to study at the University, but who do not currently meet the English language requirements. The course is tailored to your level of English and allows you to meet the English language requirements for your programme without retaking IELTS. The EAP programme runs throughout the year and offers different programme lengths ranging from 42 weeks to 6 weeks. The length of course you need depends on your future course, your existing IELTS score and the English level you need for your university degree.

Find out more about the English for Academic Purposes Presessional course.

As a Birmingham student, you will be joining the academic elite and will have the privilege of learning from world-leading experts, as well as your peers. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Teaching takes place in one-week blocks, and you will participate in a range of teaching styles such as lectures, small group tutorials, presentations, peer group learning, self-study etc.

You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues.

Assessment Methods

Assessment is via a mixture of examination and assignment. If a module is assessed by assignment you will usually have 4-5 weeks to complete it after the module has finished. If a module is assessed by examination it will take place after a period to allow for revision after the taught part of the module has finished.

Masters students complete their degree by also undertaking a research project and writing a 10,000 word dissertation. This provides you with an opportunity to pursue a specific area of health research in depth, and to demonstrate the knowledge and skills acquired during the taught part of the programme. It is therefore undertaken only once the taught part of the programme has been successfully completed. The research undertaken for the dissertation will include use of a health research methodology taught on the programme. Examples include; a systematic review, a health equity audit or needs assessment, a quantitative or qualitative study using a previously collected data, a health service review for system improvement

Prizes are presented to the best students on the programme.

The programme provides a range of benefits for potential future employment and the flexibility of module choice enables learning tailored to meet your specific needs. 

For example, the programme:

  • provides an excellent basis for a future study towards a PhD in health
  • develops further skills to augment progression in your current or next position
  • enhances your role within the commercial health care sector (e.g. pharmaceutical, devices and related industries)
  • develops your health research skills within the clinical and allied health professions, public sector including local government, NGOs, voluntary sectors and charities
  • provides a robust foundation for a transition or entry to population-based health research from a laboratory research background (this is a frequent transition which many of those teaching on the programme have followed, including both Programme Directors) or as a new graduate wishing to launch your career in health research
  • to develop skills in applying translational research methodologies

Video - Professor Neil Thomas is the co-director for the MSc Health Research Methods programme at the University of Birmingham. Here he talks about his research focussing around the determinants and outcomes of cardiometabolic disease.

Careers Support for Postgraduate Students

Careers Network – We can help you get ahead in the job market and develop your career

We recognise that as a postgraduate student you are likely to have specific requirements when it comes to planning for your next career step. Employers expect postgraduates to have a range of skills that exceed their subject knowledge. Careers Network offers a range of events and support services that are designed for all students, including postgraduates looking to find their niche in the job market. The Careers Network also have subject specific careers consultants and advisers for each College so you can be assured the information you receive will be relevant to your subject area. For more information visit the Careers Network website.