Skip to content
You are viewing information for England.  Change country.

MSc in Advancing Healthcare Practice


This MSc course is designed to equip practitioners with the knowledge, skills and insights to act as a confident, successful, independent and collegiate change agent. It facilitates an exploration of your personal aptitudes and skills. Through the combination of constituent courses and project work completed in service, skill or healthcare systems improvement you will be enabled to lead others on initiatives that can transform healthcare practice. You will learn how to analyse and facilitate healthcare improvement and to disseminate their discoveries to others, making best use of the available avenues.

The qualification comprises a series of modules, each with its own investigations that enable you to explore your work as a place of learning and to further your enquiries using the study group and resources of the qualification. As a graduate of the MSc in Advancing Healthcare Practice you will be equipped to lead others in measures designed to improve practice, to conduct your own or group practice projects and to make cogent recommendations for practice improvement, based upon evidence, practice experience, skill analysis, policy and a close attention to the objectives and mission of the health or social care organisation or team.

Your MSc studies consist of an extended project, one that centres on skill, service or system improvement and which works with the needs and the priorities where you work. With your tutor and supported by the study group you will plan your project, conduct investigations within the narratives and discourses of local practice and explore evidence available within the literature and beyond. You will consult with practice colleagues locally and make strategic recommendations for change, that draw both upon evidence and a careful analysis of experience. You will be taught how to disseminate your discoveries to others and be introduced to ways in which your improved practice might be shared more widely.

Your studies will provide exceptional opportunities to conduct a project that is of immediate and clear benefit to stakeholders in healthcare. Your enquiries will work imaginatively with improvements pursued in your organisation and provide opportunities to examine what you have mastered along the way.

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. This qualification is not however suitable though for those currently taking a career break or on extended period of leave.

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

You must complete this qualification within eight years.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

Career relevance and employability

The need for creative, innovative and entrepreneurial practitioners within professional caring services has been recognised by healthcare departments across the world and it is widely agreed that many roles are best supported by masters graduates with a qualification in advancing practice. You will therefore typically aspire to senior and influential roles, as consultants, practice development directors, practice change agents and designers of innovative services. The qualification is well suited to those with a developing vision for the future of services and who wish to influence and lead others.

The programme 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. It is suitable for professionals working to promote the health of others working within public health or schools. Practitioners working within technical areas of healthcare (e.g. laboratories) may also find it valuable, although it is emphasised that the qualification focuses on themes valuable to all service improvement and delivery. The qualification is valuable to project officers working within or with healthcare charities or patient support groups and services.

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 180-credit masters degree you require:

180 credits from the following compulsory 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 2014
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 2014
Transforming professional practice (K829)

You will undertake a guided enquiry into advanced professional practice enabling you to demonstrate your scholarship and to make recommendations for improvement in your workplace.

See full description

60 Oct 2014
If you started your studies in February 2010 or earlier
120 credits from the following discontinued compulsory modules:
K821, K822, K823, K824, K825, K826
And 60 credits from the discontinued optional modules:
K800, K801
Or if you have already completed, or are working towards completing, the Postgraduate Certificate in Advancing Healthcare Practice or the Postgraduate Diploma in Advancing Healthcare Practice under the previous structure, you may complete your MSc as follows:
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 an MSc in Advancing Healthcare Practice, entitling you to use the letters MSc Adv HCP (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.


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 Taught Masters
Code F52
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 180 credits

Get a prospectus

Download or