MSci Health Management and Leadership - Intercalated Degree

Start date
September / October annually depending on published term dates.
1 year Full Time
Course Type
Undergraduate, Intercalated

As a medical or dentistry student, you may choose to take a year out from your course to study one of our intercalated programmes. Health Management and Leadership is one of the first of its kind in the UK and provides the opportunity to explore the ways in which management and leadership can shape health services.

All doctors are becoming increasingly engaged with management and leadership, whether they work in hospitals, general practice or in the community and whether they assume managerial responsibilities or not; for example, some doctors will, during their career, take on formal managerial responsibilities (eg. clinical director or medical director). This course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of management and leadership in health care settings. 

During this year you will specialise in a particular subject, acquire skills in analysing and interpreting research papers and also gain substantial, direct experience of novel research. You will develop you own research project, with the support of the programme tutors. You will be responsible for gaining ethical approval, if required (it won’t be required for literature reviews, or when using secondary data), and for recruitments, data collection and analysis, and writing up the project. If you wish to consider publication of you project after the dissertation has been completed, support for that will be available.  We are actively exploring the possibility of overseas research projects in Health Management and Leadership - including Europe and South America.

The programme directors would be pleased to discuss the programme with you. Please email Mark Exworthy ( or Iain Snelling  ( You can also follow us on Twitter: @UoBHML

Health Services Management Centre

All students will be provided with an academic tutor from the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre (HSMC), one of the UK’s leading centres for research and education in this field.  For over 50 years, HSMC has been at the forefront of UK and international research into:

  • Clinical and strategic commissioning
  • Partnerships, collaboration and Integration
  • Leadership and organisational development
  • Quality and innovation in service provision
  • Pat experience and public involvement

50-years-of-hsmcHSMC delivers a number of ground breaking educational programmes on behalf of the NHS Management Training Scheme (the NHS graduate training programme) which was recently voted the UK’s most popular graduate training scheme in 2014–15 by over 27,000 students in The Guardian’s UK 300 annual survey – the largest student-voted award in the world. Also, HSMC is part of an international consortium which delivers the NHS Leadership Academy’s Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Nye Bevan leadership programmes, the largest investment in leadership development in the history of the NHS. HSMC also runs its own post-graduate programme in health management and leadership. Find out more about the HSMC.


This is a full-time course running for one year. The programme requires the completion of 120 credits as follows:

Semester 1

Health Services Management

This module is taken with HSMC students taking a Masters programme. Many of these students will be practising managers in health and social care, and many will be clinicians. There will also be overseas students studying full time, many of whom will be clinicians. This module will help you to integrate into the HSMC community, and give opportunities to work with a range of students and staff in your learning.

Leadership and Improvement

This module is for our HML students only, and will run for the whole of the first term. This will give you the opportunity to work closely with your HML colleagues throughout the whole year. 

Research Methods (Quantitative and Qualitative)

This module is taken with other intercalating students, particularly those taking Public and Global Health Sciences. Your dissertation supervisor will be allocated early in the terms as you develop your research ideas to ensure that you are fully supported in the research.

Semester 2

  • Health management and leadership research project
  • You will receive specialist training and training in research methods (both theoretical and applied) in semester one. The project will be devised in semester one and data collection, analysis and write-up completed in semester two. All students will have a nominated academic supervisor to support their research activity and will have access to research and statistics support through our research clinics system.
  • Each student will have an academic supervisor (from HSMC) to oversee their research activity and may also have a clinical research supervisor. The Programme Lead, Professor Mark Exworthy, will offer support and guidance for all aspects of the course. You will also have access to research and statistics clinics which operate on a booking system and give you the opportunity to discuss specific issues with a relevant academic.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. 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. 

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates). This intercalated programme will include a seminar programme with leading speakers on medical leadership, who are regularly contributors to the work of HMSC. 


Standard Fees Apply

All students are entitled to reclaim up to £500 project expenses for conduction of their research. Claims must be accompanied by original receipts. Further to this students who incur travel costs are eligible to apply for an Arthur Thomson Travel Award (up to £500). Applications for these awards will be considered at the end of the programme of study and are not guaranteed. These sources of funding are available to all students irrespective of their primary University of study.

Internal bursaries

All students who are registered on the MBChB or Dental Programmes at the University of Birmingham are eligible to apply for a bursary to support them during their period of study. The intention to apply should be indicated on the application form and students expressing an intention will receive further information. Bursaries are currently set at £3,000 and are limited. Students with an overall mean mark of <65% in year 2 of their programme of study are unlikely to be awarded a bursary.

Our funding sources mean that we are unable to offer bursaries to students from outside of Birmingham.

External bursaries

The College usually receives an invitation each year from the Royal College of Physicians to submit a limited number of applications for their Wolfson intercalated programme. The deadline for this is usually the end of March which means the programme needs to shortlist by mid-March. Bursaries are up to £5000 and are nationally competitive. Our students have a very good record in securing such awards. Any student interested in applying needs to contact the PoSH Administration team by the 31st of January in the year in which they plan to apply. Eligible students should: 

  • Demonstrate a consistent and outstanding academic track record (an overall mean mark >70% in year 2 and consistently high marks in other years). N.B. Because of the need to show consistent academic achievement it is expected that students will be in year 3 or 4 at the time of application. A second year applicant who can demonstrate excellence may be considered but should contact the admissions tutor at the earliest opportunity to discuss this).
  • Be applying for an intercalation in one of our science programmes (International Health, or Public Health and Population Sciences). As this bursary relates to science projects, students on humanities programmes (Health Management and Leadership, or History of Medicine) should not apply, but should make contact with the relevant programme lead to enquire whether there are any discipline specific bursaries currently available nationally.
  • Have a research focus or area of interest (Support will be given during February to develop this into an application).
  • Be prepared to work on their application (including designing a research project) during February and early March.

All eligible students who express an interest will have the opportunity to meet with the Admissions Tutor to discuss the application and receive guidance in drafting an application. Further to this there will be the opportunity to submit one draft application by the 28th February for comment. All students will then be required to submit their application by the specified deadline (varies annually but likely to be mid-March). Students will be informed if their application has been selected for submission to the Royal College within 2 weeks. Any student submitted will receive an early and unconditional place on the programme. Unsuccessful applicants will be able to use their work in their application for an internal bursary.

How To Apply

Applications have now closed for September 2024 entry.

Applications for this programme will be accepted from students wishing to intercalate after year 3 or 4 of their medical studies, or year 2 for Dental students. Students must have obtained >60% in the second year of MBChB or BDS to be eligible. Applicants will be ranked on their year 2 mark and on their answers to the questions on the application form. 

Please note: students who have failed to achieve 60% may still apply, but are required to demonstrate a significant upward academic trajectory or excellence in specific areas related to the proposed intercalation. 

Applications from students not currently registered at Birmingham

We are happy to consider applications for any of the programmes within the Population Sciences and Humanities subjects from students from other institutions. We have a strong track record over recent years in supporting these students and facilitating integration into their new institution.

Applications from students from other universities should be made on our standard application form and must be accompanied by a transcript of marks from your current institution. Should an offer of a place be made to you further admission forms will be sent from the University via our Course Administrator.

We are always happy to discuss our programmes with students from other universities. If you have any queries or wish to discuss the opportunities available to you in Birmingham please contact the PoSH Administration team.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. 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.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

On completion of the programme, you should have knowledge and understanding of:

  • The theory and practice of management and leadership in contemporary health care organisations
  • The organisational factors which shape the delivery and performance of health services
  • The ways in which management and leadership in health care organisations can be improved
  • The research methods which can be used to investigate heath management and leadership
  • An understanding of the practical realities of conducting research in this field

Our teaching methods with emphasis on feedback and easy access to support strongly promote development of the following skills and attributes:

  • The ability to critically read and appraise research evidence
  • The ability to produce scientifically valid research
  • The ability to manage a research project from conception to completion with enhanced project management skills which will be transferable to other aspects of your career
  • The ability to effectively communicate ideas or scientific findings through a range of commonly used presentation mechanisms including oral presentation, poster presentation, production of a journal article and essay writing
  • Enhanced independent learning skills
  • Greater awareness of team working and skills to support this in clinical and academic settings
  • Improved ability to think logically and broadly about a range of problems, drawing on a variety of disciplines to support arguments 

Support and supervision

Every student will have at least one academic supervisor who will work with them closely during their research project. The programme lead, Professor Mark Exworthy, will offer general support on all aspects of the course, and other members of staff will provide support and guidance on their teaching areas. Students will also have access to regular research clinics, both in ethics and qualitative research. These clinics are timetabled and operate a booking system.

Potential projects

  • Comparative performance of the NHS in England and Wales
  • Role of GPs on Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Application of lean management to the NHS
  • Quality improvement in inter-professional clinical care
  • Leadership challenges of clinical directors
  • Training needs of doctors in management positions
  • How can the NHS learn from other health systems?
  • Managerial implications of moving services from secondary to primary care
  • Leadership in integrated care
  • Women medical leaders
  • Managing poor medical performance

Assessment Methods

You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations, laboratory-based work (depending on your chosen degree) and formal exams.

At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You’ll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

All doctors in the UK need to have skills in management and leadership – they are part of the requirements of the GMC and are included in the specification for both undergraduate and postgraduate training. As a doctor you will be a leader in your clinical practice, especially as you become more senior in training. Leadership is widely seen as a role that can be widely dispersed across teams and at all levels, and so your leadership career can start from the beginning of your medical career.

Many formal management and leadership positions are available in the medical profession. There are a number of NHS Chief Executives who have a medical background, but not many.  NHS hospitals have Medical Directors on their Boards. The vast majority of medical managers are known as ‘hybrids’, where management and leadership responsibilities are combined with continuing medical practice. Clinical Directors leading specific services in a hospital may have 2 sessions per week for their management responsibilities, and will work closely with full time managers. In General Practice, GPs may be managing their own practice as well as getting involved with Primary Care Networks. There are many opportunities to lead in specific change projects or service improvement. Many doctors also develop leadership within the careers within education, professional bodies, and trade unions. So whether you are concentrating on leadership within your clinical teams, or wish to develop a career in more formal management position, the Health Management and Leadership programme will provide a firm foundation for your career.

Careers Network

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Find out more about Careers Network.