Postgraduate Certificate in Patient Safety

Course details

The Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) is a part-time course for healthcare professionals, offered by the Department for Continuing Education in collaboration with the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences. It can be completed in one year (though two years is possible), and consists of three modules, each a week long and taught in Oxford. We provide online support and e-library access for distance learning on either side of the Oxford weeks.

The PGCert in Patient Safety is designed to provide an understanding of:

  • the basic science behind quality improvement methods
  • the techniques for implementing, sustaining and measuring systems change
  • the techniques for exploring and evaluating the effect of different approaches to improving safety in healthcare

There is a growing evidence base that quality improvement and human factors-based projects in healthcare have real impact on clinical outcomes for patients. The University of Oxford has a strong research base in patient safety, and this course benefits from the researchers’ intensive collaboration with clinicians.

The course will appeal to doctors, nurses, managers, and other healthcare professionals who have an interest in patient safety.

Please keep me informed by email about the Postgraduate Certificate in Patient Safety.

Coronavirus update

The admissions cycle for this programme is progressing as planned, and the University is committed to ensuring that offer holders can take up their place as expected. Information will be made available as the situation develops. Find out more here

Programme Details

Students attend two core modules and one option module.

Core modules:

Option module:

Each module will comprise one week’s intensive teaching in Oxford through lectures, workshops, seminars and practical sessions. Modules are constructed to promote independent learning, to develop the students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject, as well as to encourage group working and discussion. They include a period of preparatory study, and are followed by a period for assignment work.

Student Comments

Comments from students who took the Human Factors, Teamwork and Communication module:

"Really enjoyed it, interesting topics, great presenters, great to be constructively challenged on pre-conceived ideas and perceptions. Opened my eyes and mind!"

"Well organised, thought provoking, inspiring"

"I now have more confidence to take these concepts and work on them to improve things for my team and patients"

"The course tackles the subject from a totally unique angle. Each module is practical, stimulating and delivered with insight from the astute and hugely knowledgeable faculty members"

"This targeted all my learning needs. I will employ some of the techniques first thing Monday morning"

Course Aims and Teaching Methods

During the Postgraduate Certificate students will develop a knowledge and understanding of:

  • The principles of patient safety in the context of a complex healthcare setting
  • The fundamental importance of systems thinking and the understanding of process flow in the organisation of a healthcare system
  • The nature of effective change needed to understand and overcome the obstacles to improving safety within an organisation
  • The importance of human factors when considering errors or opportunities for change

Modules are delivered face-to-face in the first instance, with a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) established for between-module support. Modules will comprise one-week’s intensive teaching in Oxford through the use of lectures, workshops, seminars and practical sessions. They are constructed to include independent learning, to develop the students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject, as well as group working and discussion. The modules include a period of preparatory study, a week of intensive face-to-face lectures and tutorials, followed by a period for assignment work.

Resources available:

University of Oxford libraries, including:

Plus facilities from the Department for Continuing Education, including:


Students must complete two core modules and one option module, taken in any order.

They are encouraged to complete a formative assignment during their first module in order to provide informal feedback and to ensure that students have a good understanding of the level of output required. After each module, students will be required to produce a written assignment of up to 4000 words.

The written assignments will encourage students to demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the subject areas covered, and will provide them with the opportunity to develop their critical appraisal and written presentation skills.

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.

Fee rates for the academic year 2021/22

The fees listed are for the 2021/22 academic year: see note [1] below for fees for 2022/23.

Annual award fee (see note [2] below regarding fee status):

  • £1,665 for Home/EU students
  • £7,850 for Overseas students

Module fee: £2,080 (per taught module)

Illustration for PGCert programme (assumes completion within one year)


  • 1 x annual award fee = £1,665
  • 3 x module fee (3 taught modules) = £6,240
  • Total: £7,905


  • 1 x annual award fee = £7,850
  • 3 x module fee (3 taught modules) = £6,240
  • Total: £14,090

Stand-alone module fee rate

2020/21 £2425

2021/22 To be confirmed


[1]. The fee rates listed are for the academic year shown, and you should be aware that these rates will increase annually, so students 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 the each academic year, but for your own budgetary purposes you may wish to estimate a 5% annual increase on fee rates.

[2]. See the Oxford University website for Home/EU and Overseas classification of students for fee purposes.

Entry requirements

Please visit the PG Certificate in Patient Safety page on the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website for details of the entry requirements.

Apply for this course

The next admissions cycle, for entry to Oxford's graduate courses in 2021-22, will commence on 2 September 2020.

Applications for this course should be made online via the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions webpage. Please see the Application Guide for more information on how to apply.

If you would like to discuss the programme please contact the Course Administrator:

Help us to help you. Apply early - if you submit your application early, the Graduate Admissions team will be able to let you know if any items are missing. Applications must have been fully completed by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered, so please ensure that you have gathered your supporting materials in advance and have given your referees plenty of time to prepare their references before the deadline. Click here for a recommended timeline for applications.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to telephone interview.