Postgraduate Certificate in Health Research

Course details

This modular programme is particularly suitable for academically gifted medical and dental trainees with the potential to be the independent researchers of the future.

Our Student Spotlights feature students' experiences both on and after their courses, and highlight the day-to-day life of study on the Evidence-Based Healthcare programmes.

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The programme is designed to be taken by Academic Clinical Fellows alongside work commitments and exists in order to enable students to:

  • develop skills of research, design and data analysis in both qualitative and quantitative research
  • critically evaluate health research
  • identify, critically appraise and incorporate the results of medical and social science research into the day-to-day decision-making of clinical, scientific and administrative practice
  • apply the principles of evidence-based practice in health care settings
  • plan how to implement the findings of research to improve health care
  • use theories and principles underpinning clinical research to inform their own research practice.

The programme is delivered through the Department for Continuing Education, with the expertise in curriculum design and teaching drawn from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, and the Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School.

Programme details

The Postgraduate Certificate is normally completed between 1-2 years. It consists of three assessed taught modules and includes thorough introductions to the principles of evidence-based practice in health, and to study design and research methods. 

The two compulsory modules are:

The third module may be chosen from the following list:

The majority of modules are run over either an eight, or fifteen week learning cycle.  Most modules are either delivered fully online or in a blended format, however, some modules are only delivered with a blended format that includes a 5 day attendance in Oxford, and some are only run entirely online.  In any given year, not all delivery formats for a module may be available.

Blended format: an initial period of self-directed study is spent on introductory activities using a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This is followed by a week spent in Oxford for supported face-to-face teaching, and then a further period of Post-Oxford activities (a mixture of self-directed and supported distance learning also delivered through the VLE). The final week of each module is for self-directed personal study, shortly followed by the assignment submission.  

Fully online format: These are delivered through the VLE with the first week allocated to self-directed introductory activities. There is then either:

- a number of units to work through which are released week by week. Each unit includes a mixture of supported and self-directed learning with discussion forums, tasks and activities. Students then have five weeks of self-directed personal study with use of a revision forum and the requirement to submit an assignment electronically the following week.  Courses usually run over a 15 week period.


- an intensive week of 5 consecutive days of synchronous and asynchronous teaching sessions, and then a further period of activities (A mixture of self-directed and supported distance learning also delivered through the VLE). The final week of each module is for self-directed personal study, shortly followed by the assignment submission.   Courses usually run over an 8 week period.

Part-time attendance details

As a part-time student, you must complete at minimum of one compulsory module ‘in person’ in Oxford. Each ‘in person’ module requires you to attend a week (5 days) in Oxford for supported face to face teaching. Your other modules can be made up of a mix of ‘in person’ or fully online modules. For additional note: All students are required to attend a minimum of one module in each academic year on course. This can either be ‘in person’ or fully online.

Assessment methods

To complete the Postgraduate Certificate students must:

  • Attend and complete the 2 compulsory modules and 1 option module.

Students will also be expected to complete three written assignments, usually of no more than 4000 words, one on each of the chosen modules above.

Course aims

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

  • demonstrate a knowledge of the principles, methods and techniques appropriate for solving evidence-based health care/health-research problems and be able to translate (through a critical comprehension of the relative advantages and disadvantages) that understanding into good clinical practice
  • demonstrate a range of research skills enabling them to complete research successfully, either as part of a research team or as an individual
  • acquire, interpret and analyse biological information with a critical understanding of the appropriate contexts for their use through the study of the existing primary literature in the field
  • apply skills and expertise gained across the medical and biological sciences expected of professional researchers

Students will know and understand:

  • health-care organizations, their management and the changing context in which they operate
  • the ethical issues in health research and research governance
  • methods to integrate and synthesise different sorts of information, from diverse sources, when making both individual patient and health-policy decisions in a wide range of situations
  • the key issues for evidence-based practice in their own professional area or specialty
  • how to work comfortably in situations of uncertainty and make sound judgements in the absence of definitive evidence
  • research methods and concepts in the field of health and health care

All graduates of the Postgraduate Certificate in Health Research will be able to:

  • understand the role of most commonly used methods appropriate for specifying problems through a critical comprehension of the relative advantages and disadvantages of these methods
  • understand and express the main principles of some commonly applied techniques and methods
  • explain the rationale for the selection of tools used in the analysis of phenomena.

Who should apply

Candidates will, in all but exceptional circumstances be admitted to the Postgraduate Certificate with optional progression on successful completion to the Diploma, provided that a candidate:

  • has successfully completed the final year of the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery or Bachelor of Dental Surgery or equivalent; or
  • has an appropriate degree or equivalent professional qualification in a profession allied to medicine with post-qualification experience

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate an approach to their study which includes demonstrable skills of critical analysis, wide contextual knowledge and the ability to manage their own time.

Additionally candidates should:

  • have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration)
  • show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and an employer's commitment to make time available to study, complete course work and attend course and University events and modules

Successful candidates will normally provide evidence of all of the following:

  • A professional interest in Health Research, evidenced by prior experience, qualification and work
  • Motivation and ability to complete the course
  • A clear and well argued understanding of the benefits of the course to the candidate's current employment and future prospects

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.

Fees and funding

Fee rates for the academic year 2024-25*

*Rates for 2025/26 to be confirmed

These rates (in pounds sterling) are for the academic year 2024/25 and will increase annually.

  • Annual award fee: £8,455*
  • Module fees: £2,570 (per taught module)*
  • Total fee = £16,165*

The annual award fee is due for every academic year (or part-year) attended; module fees are due in advance as invoiced. Fees must be paid in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the programme.


  1. See the Oxford University website for Home/EU and Overseas classification of students for fees purposes.
  2. **The Illustration is based on the fee rates for the academic year shown; however, fee rates for attendance in future years will increase, so students attending for more than one year should expect the total to be higher than is shown in the Illustration. The exact amount will depend on the fee rates set annually, and upon the years you are in attendance; these are normally published well before the start of each academic year, but for your own budgetary purposes you may wish to estimate a 9.9% annual increase on fee rates.


Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our fees and funding pages

How to apply

Applications for this course should be made via the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website. This website includes further information about this course and a guide to applying.

For those on the Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School Advanced Clinical Fellowship Programme, please ensure that you have registered with OUCAGS before you apply by emailing

Contact us

If you would like to discuss your application or any part of the application process before applying please contact



Central accommodation for visitors and students at the Department for Continuing Education