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Postgraduate Diploma in Advancing Healthcare Practice


This postgraduate diploma course equips you with a broad range of knowledge, skills, insights and qualities needed to function as a successful change agent both in healthcare leadership and in evidence based healthcare practice. You will develop the sorts of change insights and practice development understanding that will enable you to make a strategic difference to the work of your employer, team and service as well as a thoughtful contribution to best practice within your profession. Key insights into change, and, what you can do to manage it, equip you with the confidence to make an identifiable difference in practice.

The modules you study for this postgraduate diploma, Leading healthcare improvements (K827) and Researching and evaluating healthcare practice (K828), will provide you with critically important insights into how healthcare changes, what constitutes improvement and quality and how different sorts of work can materially improve the lot of stakeholders within your practice, be they patients, relatives, students, research subjects, subordinates or superiors.

You also study the mechanisms of change and discover how the management of these can help position your team, organisation or yourself to deliver better healthcare. You achieve this by pursuing a series of investigations, some in practice, some online, some in close association with work colleagues and others in consultation with the study group to develop your effectiveness as a healthcare practitioner. Our study guides lead you through the enquiries that you should make, assisting you to develop confidence as an independent enquirer, someone comfortably able to make sense of the sometimes confusing and conflicting nature of healthcare information.

As well as representing an important qualification in its own right, the postgraduate diploma course also provides a route to enable you to gain the MSc in Advancing Healthcare Practice (F52).

Planning your studies

It is a requirement that you have:

  • A degree or equivalent qualification, conferred by a UK university or other recognised degree-awarding body, or a relevant professional qualification.
  • Access to a practice environment, which can be clinical, education, management or research.
Access may be on the basis of part-time work, we do not assume that you are a full time professional. However, this qualification is not suitable for those currently taking a career break or on extended period of leave.

You can gain this qualification by successfully completing two 60-credit modules but you are strongly advised to study no more than one 60-credit module in each year.

Career relevance and employability

This qualification equips you to seize career opportunities associated with a wide variety of leadership and practice development roles in healthcare. Students studying for this qualification have typically been interested in project working, learning research design skills, contributing to quality assurance initiatives and acting as consultants and advisers to others. It provides a well balanced knowledge and skills base for practitioners who play a pivotal role in healthcare organisations and their work meeting targets or addressing other agenda requirements.

At a personal level the qualification is professionally satisfying, assisting you to examine the basis of your expertise, the ways in which skills help to achieve desirable outcomes and to understand the part that evidence can and should play in today’s healthcare. A significant part of our teaching is associated with increasing personal satisfaction in practice, as well as enhancing competence in higher levels of work.

Research skills are considered an important part of advancing healthcare practice, so within this qualification you will pay particular attention to the conception, design and conduct of research that has significance and benefit in the practice setting. You will also give close attention to the sourcing and evaluation of evidence, from wherever it may come. Combining evidence and a deeper understanding of practice skills will enable you to work in more entrepreneurial ways.

The postgraduate diploma supports the Department of Health’s agenda on modernising healthcare professionals’ careers. The qualification is suitable for healthcare professionals from medical, nursing, midwifery, health visiting and allied health backgrounds in public and private healthcare systems, and within the community and the voluntary sector.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this postgraduate diploma you require:

120 credits from the following modules:

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
Leading healthcare improvements (K827)

This module will help you develop leadership skills in relation to healthcare service improvements, innovation and policy.

See full description

60 Oct 2015
Researching and evaluating healthcare practice (K828)

This module assists you to play a leading role in service improvements through an appreciation of healthcare quality, research, evidence evaluation and skill analysis.

See full description

60 Oct 2015

If you began your studies in February 2010 or earlier

120 credits from the following discontinued compulsory modules:

K821, K822, K823, K824, K825, K826

Or if you have already completed the postgraduate certificate under the previous structure, you can count 60 credits from the discontinued modules K821, K822 and K826 and complete your postgraduate diploma by gaining 60 credits as follows:

Postgraduate compulsory module

Researching and evaluating healthcare practice (K828)


Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

If you have already completed some successful study at postgraduate level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this Open University qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible as it may affect your choice of OU modules. If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete your qualification with us.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules, you can be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Advancing Healthcare Practice (E46), entitling you to use the letters PG Dip Adv HCP (Open) after your name.

You may continue your studies to gain the MSc in Advancing Healthcare Practice (F52).


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

How to register

If you want to study for this qualification, read the description and check you meet any specific requirements (for example, some of our qualifications, require you to be working in a particular environment, or be sponsored by your employer). Then select the module you wish to study first and ensure it is suitable for you before following the registration procedure for that module. During the registration procedure you will be asked to declare which qualification you are studying towards.

See a full list of modules available for this qualification

About this Diploma
Code E46
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 120 credits

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