Health Care Policy and Management MSc/PGDip/PGCert

The MSc Health Care Policy and Management, provides both theoretical frameworks and practical tools that can be applied to health systems in the UK and overseas, designed for senior managers, clinicians and policy makers working in or with health care organisations, or with an interest in developing their careers in this direction. 

Download a copy of the MSc Programmes brochure 2017 (PDF)

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The MSc in Health Care Policy and Management has specialist options available in:

  • Managing Quality and Service Improvement

Health systems are complex in nature. Governments and health care organisations have to manage need and demand with finite resources and increasing public expectations. Within the UK, the NHS is expected to deliver on national targets, improve organisational performance, and respond to local needs and demands. Such demands and tensions can also be found internationally as most countries face similar healthcare challenges.


To manage this complexity successfully, health care managers and clinicians need the knowledge, skills and resources to bring about sustainable change. Our MSc provides both theoretical frameworks and practical tools that can be used to understand and improve the organisation and delivery of health systems.

Programme structure

The MSc programme is offered on a full-time (1 year) or part-time (2.5 year) basis, and consists of four compulsory modules, two optional modules and a dissertation.

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

The Postgraduate Certificate is offered part-time over 1 year, and consists of two compulsory modules and one option.

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).

Specialisms and option modules

HSMC offers the opportunity to graduate with a specialism in a specific area of Health Care Policy and Management. In order to gain this specialism you should use your option modules (two x 20 credits) to focus on the following theme:

If you require further information, please telephone 0121 414 2280 or email   

Why study this course

The Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) is one of the UK's leading centres for research, teaching, professional development and consultancy to health and social care agencies. For more than forty years, the Centre's mission has been to strengthen leadership and management in health care, and to promote improved health and wellbeing.

HSMC has pioneered innovative approaches to personal and professional education. We deliver multi-award winning national leadership programmes that have made a real difference to the working lives of staff and have improved patient care and experience across all healthcare settings.

A course at HSMC bridges the traditional divide between academic study and the worlds of policy and practice.

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.


Our modules are listed below (but note that the detailed content of programmes is regularly updated in line with developments in theory, policy and practice: HSMC reserves the right to make adjustments to this indicative programme outline as appropriate):

Health Services Management

Module Lead(s): Robin Miller; Russell Mannion; Hilary Brown

This module aims to explore health systems in order to understand the types of challenges they are faced with now and those that might arise in the future. The module looks across developed countries generally, but with a particular focus on the NHS. In doing so the module seeks to develop an in-depth understanding of the structures, systems and relationships in the NHS and in other developed countries. The issues explored are then related to health care management and health care managers.

By the end of the programme students will be able to: 

  • Describe the complex range of tasks facing health care managers. 
  • Be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of key concepts in the provision and funding of healthcare services and their implications for health and healthcare. 
  • Apply the key concepts to different contexts in developed and developing countries. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to assimilate, synthesise and critically analyse a range of information from a variety of sources, and use these processes in presenting clear and convincing arguments. 
  • Describe the impact of the issues explored on health care management

Health and Health Care Policy

Module Lead(s): Martin Powell; Ross Millar

The aim of this module is to critically examine health and health care policy issues. Health policy has become increasingly prominent in the programme of governments in the UK and elsewhere over the last two decades. Issues and challenges associated with the health of the population and the organisation and funding of its health care services are seldom out of the media headlines. This module seeks to shed light on the complex policy making process in health. It examines a number of key current issues in health policy through the perspectives of selected theories and models of the policy making process, drawn from a wide range of disciplines including political science, sociology, psychology and management.

At the end of the module students will be able to: 

  • Understand some of the processes by which health policy is made
  • Analyse policy dilemmas and discuss issues in health policy using a multi-disciplinary approach
  • Critically review policy and practice in health and related areas
  • Distinguish between different models of health and relate them to the study of health policy 
  • Recognise the different sources of inequality in health and how they affect health and health care 
  • Understand the role and influence of different actors in the health policy process, including patients, the public, and professionals

An Introduction to Organisational Development for Health and Social Care

Module Lead(s): Robin Miller; Kim Jelphs

This module first sets the context by exploring the origins, history and definitions of the theory and practice of OD. It then moves to examine the planned cycle of change and its application, considering phases from diagnosis through intervention and review. Key frameworks are critically explored in the module include diagnostic and analytical frameworks, systems theories, narrative and story-telling and human responses to change. Throughout the module attention is paid to the importance of both the process and the anticipated outcome of change. The module will draw on lessons from the literature and the practical experience of those involved in planning and delivering health and social care services.

At the end of the module students will be able to: 

  • To introduce the frameworks for organisational development that are deployed in health and social care. 
  • To critically analyse these frameworks and compare and contrast their origins, strengths and weaknesses.
  • To assess the practical uses of these frameworks in processes of change, identify the contexts where they might have most relevance and establish the implications of their deployment.

People, Patients and Communities

Module Lead(s): Hilary Brown; Karen Newbigging

The relationship between providers and users of health and social care services is changing, and governments in many countries are encouraging greater involvement of users and the public in the planning and development of services. Underlying these changes is the belief that services will be more accessible, acceptable and responsive if the people who use them are involved in their design and development. At the same time, there has been a strong drive to encourage people to assume greater responsibility for their health and to practise self-care wherever possible and appropriate. In the UK, the Wanless Report (2002) argued that the financial sustainability of the NHS critically depends on the population being 'fully engaged' in their own health care. 

At the end of the module students will be able to: 

  • Understand the development of consumerism in health care and be able to critically appraise the application of the concept to the NHS. 
  • Appreciate the place of consumer approaches within the wider context of the role of service users, users’ groups, communities and the public in healthcare.
  • Compare different methods for obtaining the views of users, the public and communities.

These compulsory modules total 80 credits.

Optional modules

In order to fulfil the Programme Requirements you need to obtain 120 credits in taught modules. You can do this by selecting two of the optional modules below (each worth 20-credits).

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 2018-2019:

Masters (MSc):

Home and EU (full-time) Code 2355: £11,160 
Home and EU (part-time) Code 2356: £5,580*
Overseas (full-time only) Code 2355: £18,450

PG Diploma
Home and EU (full time) Code 6000: £9,600
Home and EU (part-time) Code 6005: £4,800
Overseas (full-time only) Code 6000: £14,700

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students 

A postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK will provide up to £10,280 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas including part-time and distance learning. More information can be found on the FindAMasters loans page.

*This is the first year fee, second year fees are liable to rise slightly with inflation/ increases in university fees generally. Please check with the Centre for the most up-to-date fees information.

Learn more about fees and funding


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

The normal entrance requirement is a good Honours degree (upper second-class or above), or an equivalent professional qualification and professional experience. However, appropriate career experience may be taken into account.

Learn more about entry requirements  

International students:

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – 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:

  • by holding an English language qualification to the right level
  • by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students

How to apply

Making your application

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 twice a 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.

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

Assessment methods

Each module is worth 20 credits and is normally assessed through one 1,000 word 'in-module' assessment and one 3,000 word reflective essay.

The MSc dissertation is 10,000 words and worth 60 credits. It is a personally chosen and managed research project, undertaken over the duration of the programme with formal research training incorporated.

This programme is designed for senior managers, clinicians and policy makers who are already working in or with health care organisations, or who have an interest in developing their careers in this direction.