Join our Postgraduate Open Day - Saturday 22 June

Register now

Primary Care Research and Leadership MSc/PGDip

Start date
September 2024
Full-time (1 year), Part-time (2 years)
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
Annual tuition fee for 2024/25:
UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £29,340 full-time
More details on fees and funding

The programme equips professionals working in primary care with skills in research, leadership and team building.

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

The programme is available as an MSc or PGDip. There is also the option to do a PGCert in Primary Care Leadership.

Primary health care organisations in many countries are changing and primary care teams increasingly include a broader range of clinicians. Many are merging or joining together into larger primary care organisations. Clinicians and managers are taking on leadership roles, building multidisciplinary teams and reorganising service delivery. This should be informed by an understanding of research evidence and evaluation of the changes they implement. 

The programme is aimed at primary care professionals (clinicians and non-clinicians) who are assuming leadership roles in primary care. This includes clinicians taking on wider responsibilities for a clinical team; or managers with an administrative team or those responsible for the entire organisation. These new roles require a more strategic outlook, informed by an understanding of research, as well as leadership and team building skills. The programme equips these new leaders with the skills needed for these roles.

Key skills you will develop:

  • Leadership
  • Managing change
  • Effective team building
  • Principles of the delivery of primary care
  • Epidemiological study design
  • Principles of statistics
  • Further quantitative and qualitative research skills through a range of optional modules 

Why study this course?

  • This programme is the only MSc course in the UK covering leadership and research in primary health care.
  • It develops research skills for emerging leaders in primary care.
  • Teaching in leadership and change is alongside the NHS Leadership Academy’s programme and teaching in teambuilding has been adapted for a primary care setting from this NHS programme.
  • The programme is delivered in the research-intensive setting of the Institute of Applied Health Research.
  • It is taught alongside a wide range of postgraduate MSc programmes, from which optional modules can be studied.


Core modules 

  • Epidemiology Statistics and Research Methods (20 credits)

This module provides an introduction to the basic concepts in statistics and the main epidemiological methods used to identify and quantify disease and associated risks. Statistical subjects will include: types of data and data presentation, descriptive statistics, basic probability, distribution theory including the normal distribution and its properties, sampling theory, principles and techniques, inferential statistics, analysis of categorical and continuous data, non-parametric tests, correlation and regression, and survival analysis. You will be introduced to descriptive epidemiology, measures and comparisons of disease frequency, ecological studies, cross-sectional studies, prevalence studies, case-control studies, principles of screening, study design and questionnaires and qualitative research methods.

  • Principles of Primary Health Care Delivery (20 credits)

This module teaches you to define the ethos and values of primary care. You will then be taught how the delivery of primary care consistent with these values can be supported through the primary care organisational structures and characteristics. You will also learn how individual clinician behaviours can support the delivery of these values.

  • Leadership and Change  (20 credits)

Blending theory and practice, you will learn awareness of leadership and what it entails among clinical and management leaders. You will strengthen your existing leadership practice through cutting edge theory and evidence. 

  • Building Foundations for Primary Care Team Effectiveness (20 credits)

This module focuses on teams. You will have a critical introduction to the literature and research evidence relating to effective team working and other relevant models relating to team effectiveness. Through the application of relevant theories, models and reflection on practice, you will develop a clear understanding of the team you lead; its purpose, membership and team community.

This will help you to develop the foundations for effective team working, such as creating a safe team climate, discussing concerns, making suggestions and providing constructive debate. Topics will include team member engagement and team dynamics, understanding the effects of diversity on team effectiveness, team conflict resolution and developing team positivity, as well as exploring inter-team working and situational constraints.


Dissertation (60 credits)

Optional modules (up to 40 credits)

  • Practical Epidemiology and Statistics (20 credits)
  • Systematic Reviews and Evidence Synthesis (20 credits)
  • Qualitative Research Methods (20 credits)
  • Health Information and Health Informatics (10 credits)
  • Health Care Evaluation and Commissioning (10 credits)
  • Health Improvement (MPH) (20 credits)



UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £29,340 full-time

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

Our Standard Requirements

A degree or equivalent qualification in a clinical speciality. This includes medicine, pharmacy, nursing, physiotherapy or other allied health professions. Alternatively a degree at 2:1 level or higher in a subject relevant to health care and an interest in or appropriate experience in an administrative, management or leadership role in primary health care.

International Requirements

International Students

English language requirement
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways: 

English to IELTS 6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in any band). 

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 student at the University of Birmingham, you will learn from world-leading academics and researchers, as well as from 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 will take place face-to-face and as small group teaching, mainly in blocks of a few days or one week each. You will have around 30 contact hours per 10 credits. 

Course delivery

We have two teaching semesters per year. As a full-time student, you will typically take two or three modules in the first  semester and between one and two modules in the second semester (one module takes place across both), followed by a dissertation. Depending on the modules you take, you can typically expect 30 hours of classroom time per week.

If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules each year, followed by a dissertation for MSc students.

A 20-credit module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

Assessment Methods

Assessment is mainly by assignment, with an examination for Epidemiology Statistics and Research Methods.


Graduates are likely to take on leadership roles in organisations responsible for delivery of primary care, such as primary care clinics, general practices, networks or federations of general practices. This includes leadership of groups of clinicians or multidisciplinary teams.

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