About the course
As a healthcare professional taking the Postgraduate Certificate in Patient Safety, you will gain a deeper understanding of quality improvement and systems changes to create better patient outcomes.
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. The department provides 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.
You will attend two core modules and one option module. The core modules are:
- Quality Improvement Science and Systems Analysis
- Human Factors, Teamwork and Communication
Your option module is chosen from:
- Introduction to Surgical Management and Leadership
- Becoming a Medical Educator
Each module will comprise one week’s intensive teaching in Oxford through the use of lectures, workshops, seminars and practical sessions. Modules are constructed to include independent learning, to develop your knowledge and understanding of the subject, as well as group working and discussion. They include a period of preparatory study, and are followed by a period for assignment work.
At the start of this programme, most of you will already be in full-time employment. The PGCert aims to prepare you for pursuing a career in higher levels of nursing, medical and general management with a specific interest in patient safety issues.
- PGDip in Health Research
- MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care
- DPhil in Evidence Based Health Care
- MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care (Medical Statistics)
- MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care (Systematic reviews)
- DPhil in Primary Health Care
- MSc in Surgical Science and Practice
- MSc in Experimental Therapeutics
- PGDip in Paediatric Infectious Diseases
- MSc in Paediatric Infectious Diseases
Changes to the course
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2018-19
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in an appropriate subject.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA we seek is 3.5 out of 4.0.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview(s)
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
Once your application has been approved by the academic panel, you will be invited to a telephone interview with the Course Director and her deputy. The interview will last about 15 minutes.
Publications are not expected.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Successful applicants will normally provide evidence of all the following:
- a demonstrated interest in patient safety, evidenced by prior experience, interest and work;
- a senior supporter from their home institution. This supporter will also normally be a referee for the individual;
- 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 residential components; and
- motivation and ability to complete the course.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Department for Continuing Education and/or the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work.
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of Department for Continuing Education and/or the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.
- Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department for Continuing Education and/or the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course, however it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals.
The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.
The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.
The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment.
Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.
The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students.
There are over 1,100 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
A range of scholarships are available to students on the programmes offered by the department, along with bursary funds to assist students on low incomes. Full information on these opportunities can be found on the departmental funding pages.
Modular course fees
The fees for this course are charged on a modular basis. You will pay an annual course fee and an additional fee for each module studied. A minimum of one annual course fee is payable for this course. If this course includes a dissertation, three module fees will be charged for the dissertation.
Fees for the 2018-19 academic year
Annual course fee
Fee per module
Total estimated fees
|£1,480||£1,850||Please see the department’s website for further details|
For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.
For more information about tuition fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.
This course has residential sessions in Oxford. You will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs in attending these sessions.
In addition to your fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2018-19 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,015 and £1,555 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.
This is a non-matriculated course and students studying non-matriculated courses do not become members of an Oxford college. More information about matriculated and non-matriculated courses can be found on the Matriculation page.
How to apply
You are not expected to contact an academic member of staff before you apply.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
Statement of purpose:
Up to 500 words
Your one-page statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.
There are no restrictions on font size or line spacing, although the document should be clearly legible.
This will be assessed for your motivation for applying to this particular programme of study, your relevant academic, research, or practical experience, and the areas of study within the subject that interest you.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic and/or professional
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
Professional references are accepted if these are relevant to the course.
Your references will be assessed for your intellectual ability, your academic achievement, your motivation and interest in the course and subject area, and your ability to work effectively both in a group and independently.