Improve your skills in healthcare research through this flexible online learning programme.

This programme is studied fully online.

Delivered entirely online, utilising a range of engaging and innovative teaching and assessment methods, the PgCert in Research Methods for Health will provide you with the framework and methodological skills to design effective, rigorous, ethical and relevant healthcare research projects.

This involves being able to:

  • Critically appraise research evidence (including systematic reviewing)
  • Develop a precise research question and articulate and justify an appropriate study design
  • Select a suitable statistical method for analysis and interpret the findings

The programme offers a fully flexible, participatory learning opportunity enabling you to:

  • Study while working
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Review material as often as you require
  • Incur limited financial costs
  • Study only the modules you are interested in

This PgCert is aimed at healthcare professionals, policy makers and early career researchers who would like to improve their health research skills but are unable to take time out for full-time study and/or want to avoid relocating.

Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
Online Learning
Degree Qualification
9 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

Degree Content

Degree Content

The PgCert comprises 4 courses each of 15 credits. You may choose to complete one or two courses as part of your continuing professional development. Alternatively, completion of four courses leads to award of a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods for Health.

The total duration of each course is 13 weeks with the first week being an induction week.

Compulsory Courses

Introduction to Online Learning (PU5028)

The Introduction to online learning course gives students the opportunity to ensure they are comfortable and familiar with the use of the various online tools used during the courses in the online PgCert in Research Methods for Health. These include listening to podcasts, taking online quizzes, uploading electronic assignments, contributing to synchronous or ‘live’ discussions in our virtual classroom and asynchronous discussions using discussion boards, wikis and blogs as well as activating links to relevant and current websites, e-books/journal articles. Students are required to have a headset with a microphone function for this course

View detailed information about this course

Evidence - Based Health (PU5031) - 15 Credit Points

This course is taken by students registered for the PGCert in Research Methods for Health and the MPH. It is delivered online and provides interaction with fellow students and faculty both synchronously and asynchronously. Everyone taking part must be registered for the course and complete all assessments.This course aims to enable the fundamental understanding and application of evidence based health at an individual- and population-level, focusing on the use of systematic reviews to synthesise evidence as well as methods to translate and implement evidence to inform health practice and policy.

View detailed information about this course

Fundamentals of Research Design (PU5027) - 15 Credit Points

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of health research methods. The course will focus on the development of research protocols, including how to formulate research questions, identify appropriate study designs, identify relevant outcomes and plan data collection. Students will be introduced to the main study designs used in health research including experimental, observational, qualitative and mixed method designs. Sampling techniques and methods for data collection for both quantitative and qualitative methods will be addressed. Students will also be introduced to the importance of critical appraisal and research ethics and will learn how to communicate scientific findings.

View detailed information about this course

Applied Statistics (PU5522) - 15 Credit Points

Applied statistics introduces students to statistical concepts involved in the appropriate design, analysis and interpretation of research in health settings, covering aspects of data types and presentation of data; probability; samples, distributions, statistical inference; hypothesis testing; univariate parametric and non-parametric methods and correlation with an introduction to regression.

View detailed information about this course

Epidemiology (PU5538) - 15 Credit Points

This course in applied epidemiology gives an introduction to disease measurement at a population level, basic epidemiological study design and analysis, and provides an understanding of key methodological issues needed to apply when designing – or critically appraising – an epidemiological study.

View detailed information about this course

Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to change. Further information about potential changes can be viewed here.

How You'll Study

The course makes the most of digital tools and online technology to enable active learning and provide repeated exposure to evidence-based practice using real life examples.

Innovative teaching methods are used to help you in the understanding, application, and the development of a critical academic attitude. These include:

  • Podcasts
  • Synchronous and asynchronous discussions
  • Links to relevant and current websites
  • e-books and journal articles
  • Wikis and blogs
  • Live 'office hours' for questions

On-going support is provided by the dedicated, interdisciplinary team of experienced researchers who will be tutoring you. Technical support is provided and peer support will develop throughout the course(s) since engagement with students from other countries and disciplines will be actively encouraged.

You are expected to engage in independent study and work through the weekly topics at your own pace. It is estimated that you will need to engage with the course material for ~15 hours per week for each course with the learning outcomes from each week linking into the next.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

All assessments within the programme are completed and delivered online. There are several different types of assessment used throughout the programme including formative and summative assessment (MCQ, online tests, essays, presentations, peer review).

All assessments are marked using standardised assessment forms and according to the University's Common Grading Scale (CGS). Online assessment also allows for automated marking with immediate feedback.

Why Study Research Methods For Health?

  • You will benefit from being part of a supportive online community, helping to facilitate the successful achievement of clearly defined learning outcomes.
  • Through the use of digital media you will be engaged in a collaborative learning environment benefiting from teaching methods that fit with your preferred style of learning.
  • The programme is delivered by staff from our Institute of Applied Health Sciences (IAHS), a large multidisciplinary grouping of University staff and NHS researchers who work to promote health and healthcare delivery.
  • Lecturers on the programme are active researchers and you will benefit from the skills and experience they have gained in conducting their own research and through the University's strong collaborations with other Universities and research institutions across the globe.
  • Learning materials and resources are accessed via the University's dedicated online learning environment called MyAberdeen. You will also have access to the full text of over 85,000 online books via the Ebrary, plus articles from over 20,000 electronic journals.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Applicants will usually need to possess a health-related honours degree (at a second class level or at least 60% or GPA – 3/5; 2.4/4; 6/10 OR equivalent) or be able to demonstrate evidence of equivalent experience in health care practice/research. They will also require reliable internet access.

Please check the In My Country pages to find out if your degree is equivalent.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Life Sciences and Medicine Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempt from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

International Applicants

Should your programme necessitate a visit to the University you may find the following information helpful.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
All Students £750
Tuition Fees for 2018/19 Academic Year Fees are charged on a modular basis. The fee quoted is per 15 credits.

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Funding Opportunities

University of Aberdeen Alumni Discount Scheme

The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated with a degree from the University of Aberdeen. More Information can be found on the Finance and Funding page.

(Please note this cannot be claimed in conjunction with any other scholarship award.)

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


Successful completion of the PgCert will enable you to develop a range of essential methodological research skills allowing you to carry out research leading to improvements in your own healthcare workplace. You may also be more competitive in securing external funding for projects to improve health and reduce health inequalities. You should benefit from increased opportunities as a result of an enhanced professional profile and will have the confidence and methodological skills required to design and undertake a research project

The PgCert could be the first stage in gaining an MSc in Applied Health Sciences (specialisation) with a specialisation area such as substance abuse, health economics or sexual and reproductive health.

Our Experts

The programme will be delivered by a multidisciplinary team of world renowned and vastly experienced experts in applied healthcare with each course having its own specialised co-ordinator(s).

Other Experts
Dr Alison Elliott
Dr Mike Crilly
Ms Jacqueline Bell
Dr Margaret Watson
Dr Kirsty Kiezebrink
Dr Shona Fielding
Programme Coordinator
Professor Amanda Lee

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time.

Public Health in Primary Care Top in Scotland

The University was ranked 1st in Scotland for its research in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care (2014 Research Excellence Framework)

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX