About the course
The PGCert in Qualitative Health Research Methods will inspire excellence by equipping students with the skills they need to become future leaders in qualitative health research, particularly in designing, conducting and critically appraising qualitative research.
This course will suit novices to qualitative research, as well as those who have some experience but want to hone their skills. It is designed to suit busy professionals and full-time students alike.
The flexible structure of the course has been devised to fit with the structure of specialist training and to accommodate student choice. Through face-to-face and online sessions, students will develop excellence in the design, conduct and critical appraisal of qualitative research.
The Postgraduate Certificate in Qualitative Health Research Methods is a part-time course. The course comprises three modules:
- Qualitative Research Methods
- Advanced Qualitative Research Methods; and
- Mixed Methods in Health Research.
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.
Module delivery is spaced out throughout the academic year, allowing core modules to be taken over the one to two years students attend the course. Further details about the course and modules can be found on the course page, on the Department for Continuing Education Website (See Further Information and Enquiries)
This course aims to provide holistic training in qualitative methods, developing students’ ability to design, conduct and critically appraise qualitative research and their ability to engage with theory and wider debates.
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- independently develop, design and conduct primary qualitative research, confidently adopting a flexible approach as per the philosophical underpinnings of this mode of naturalistic inquiry;
- critically reflect on their role (and the role of the research team) in the research process, appreciating the consequences this has on the research they conduct, whilst endeavouring to mitigate its impact;
- critically engage with all aspects of qualitative research, including various methodological approaches and quality appraisal; and
- critically engage with theory and wider debate in qualitative research (including on elements associated with rigour, such as critical appraisal).
This is a joint programme between the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and the Department for Continuing Education. The programme works in collaboration with the renowned Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine in Oxford.
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.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department for Continuing Education and this role will usually be performed by the Course Director.
Assessments are conducted at the end of each module and comprise a written paper, submitted via an online portal.
This course will equip students with skills and knowledge to help them develop their careers by conducting qualitative research. As such, it will prepare students for academic or applied research.
Changes to this course and your supervision
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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours. A social science degree is recommended but any subject will be considered.
Successful completion of a professional training course or professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field may also be considered.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Successful applicants should:
- have professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field;
- identify a work based problem for which they will be seeking evidence;
- be able to combine intensive classroom learning with the application of the principles and practices of evidence-based health care within the workplace;
- have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration); and
- 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.
Publications are not expected.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
Interviews may be held with candidates whose application requires clarification or further information in relation to one or more aspect of the entry requirements, such as those identified below as other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience.
References outlining academic potential and suitability to study for the intended course will be secured before discussion with the applicant takes place. Applications may be rejected without further direct contact with the applicant.
Interviews will be conducted by either telephone, face-to-face or video link with a minimum of two interviewers.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
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. Wi-Fi 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 department's 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.
Departments offering this course
This course is offered jointly by the following departments:
Department for Continuing Education
The need for new learning opportunities throughout life is now recognised throughout society. An intensive, initial period of higher education is not always enough in times of rapid social, economic and technological change. The Department for Continuing Education is known worldwide as a leading provider of extended learning for professional and personal development.
The department provides high-quality, flexible, part-time graduate education, tailored for adults. Students can undertake graduate-level certificates, diplomas and taught master’s degrees in a wide range of subjects. Increasing numbers of courses are delivered in mixed mode, combining intensive periods of residence in Oxford with tutored online study.
The department recruits adult students of all ages on a regional, national and international level. Many courses are offered jointly with other academic departments around the University. Courses are offered in the following areas:
All postgraduate students on the department's courses are members of its Graduate School. The Graduate School aims to provide a stimulating and enriching environment for learning and research. It also fosters intellectual and social interaction between students coming from different disciplines and professions. Interdisciplinary research seminars, training opportunities and other events are offered by the Graduate School in support of this goal.
All masters' and DPhil applicants are considered for Clarendon Scholarships. The department is committed to seeking scholarship support for other students wherever possible.
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
The University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences has been one of the world's most important primary care centres for over 20 years.
Leading world-class research and training to rethink the way healthcare is delivered in general practice and other primary care settings, both across the UK and globally. Integrating evidence and innovation, its main research focus is on the prevention, early diagnosis and management of common illness, health services research and digital health.
Research is led by internationally renowned scientists; many of whom are practising GPs, but NDPCHS also has academics from a range of non-medical disciplines including the social sciences and humanities. The department covers the broad range of issues that you might expect to consult your GP about including cardiovascular and metabolic disease, infectious diseases and childhood illness, diet, smoking and cancer. It also focuses on understanding and improving the experiences of patients, utilising big data, developing digital health interventions and working internationally.
The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences has methodological expertise in clinical decision making and diagnostics, clinical epidemiology, medical statistics, modelling, qualitative research and the wider application of social science theory and methods to address practical and theoretical challenges in health and care settings. The department also has a dedicated in-house Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit.
The department is home to 14 of the National Institute for Health Research's 200 most prestigious and prominent researchers. These NIHR Senior Investigators contribute significantly to the health sciences as senior leaders, demonstrate research excellence and lead in training of the NIHR's people.
We teach elements of the undergraduate programme in medicine including arranging placements for medical students in GP practices. We also provide a highly supportive environment for postgraduates whether they are registered for a DPhil, enrolled on one of our short courses or the Evidence Based Health Care programme (administered by the Department for Continuing Education). We welcome domestic and international students to join our experienced and enthusiastic teachers, mentors and supervisors in aspirational study and research.
For details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information on external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. We would suggest that you review this information carefully, as not all funding opportunities are available for students applying to postgraduate diploma and postgraduate certificate courses.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
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.
Fees for the 2024-25 academic year
Annual Course Fee
Fee per module
Total estimated fees
|Home||£8,455||£2,570||Please see the department’s website for further details|
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
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 course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 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. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
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.
Matriculation confers membership of the University on students. Students who enrol on this course will not be matriculated and will not become a member of an Oxford college. Although not formally members of the University, non-matriculated students are expected to observe the same rules and regulations as matriculated students. Further information about matriculation is available on the Oxford Students website.
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
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.
It is acceptable to submit professional references but personal references cannot be accepted.
Your references will support academic potential and suitability to study for your intended course.
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 maximum of 500 words
Your statement should outline your objectives in attending the course and your reasons for seeking to register. There are no restrictions on font size or line spacing, although the document should be clearly legible and written in English.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for:
- a demonstrable interest in evidence-based health care;
- the motivation and capacity to complete the course;
- a clear and well-argued understanding of the benefits of the course to the candidate’s current employment situation and future prospects; and
- prior academic achievement in a health-related discipline at undergraduate or master’s level, or successful completion of a professional training course or professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field.
You will be expected to demonstrate an approach to your study which includes demonstrable skills of critical analysis, wide contextual knowledge and the ability to manage your own time.