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MSc in Advancing Healthcare Practice

Please note that the final enrolment date for this qualification will be 20 September 2018 after which it will no longer be available to new students. You must complete your study by 31 December 2021. If you would like to discuss your options with one of our advisers, please contact us.

This course is designed to equip you with knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to the advancement of healthcare. You'll explore what healthcare improvement means and how it can be achieved through collaboration and partnership, change agency, and the field of improvement science; develop leadership skills in relation to policy, innovation and service improvement; and learn how to use research, evidence-based practice and skills development to support healthcare advancement. The final investigative project focuses on a service or system improvement based on the needs and the priorities of your own health related practice area. 

Key features of the course

  • Encourages you to consult with practice colleagues locally and make strategic recommendations for change, drawing on evidence and experience
  • Develops skills in the conception, design and conduct of research that has significance and benefit in the practice setting
  • Includes a project that is of immediate and clear benefit to stakeholders in healthcare 
  • Explores how to disseminate your discoveries to others and how your improved practice might be shared more widely.

Masters degree

Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
Minimum – 3 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


To gain this qualification you require:

180 credits from the following compulsory modules which must be studied in the order listed below:

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
Leading healthcare improvements (K827)

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

See full description

60 06 Oct 2018 FINAL
Researching and evaluating healthcare practice (K828)

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

See full description

60 06 Oct 2018
Transforming professional practice (K829)

A guided enquiry into advanced healthcare practice enabling you to demonstrate your scholarship and to make recommendations for improvement in your healthcare context.

See full description

60 06 Oct 2018
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.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 8th June 2018.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

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.

Credit transfer

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 qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Entry requirements

It is a requirement that you have:

  • a degree (FHEQ Level 6 / SCQF Level 9) conferred by a UK university or other recognised degree-awarding body
  • access to a setting related to healthcare
  • spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

How long it takes

This qualification comprises three modules, K827, K828 and K829. We advise that the minimum time required to complete this qualification is three years, and most students complete the qualification within this timescale by successfully completing one module each year (K827 and then K828 and then K829).

Career relevance

This qualification aims to develop your skills to improve healthcare, focussing on leadership, policy, innovation and change agency, underpinned by a sound understanding of research and evidence and the ability to plan for change and disseminate information and ideas. It aims to provide you with the skills to understand what constitutes healthcare improvement, what change might be appropriate or relevant in a given healthcare context and how you can act (with others) as an agent to effect change for the better, ensuring best use of research and evidence to inform your activities and the ability to share findings and develop practical plans for action. It aims to equip you with skills to critically reflect upon and apply theoretical concepts and frameworks and to use a range of digital and information technologies and communications skills to support/direct advancements in healthcare practice.
This is a UK qualification with international relevance that will be of interest to stakeholders working in a wide range of healthcare settings. Whilst the qualification does not lead to a professional registration it is of relevance to a diverse range of employment roles and careers within or related to the field of healthcare improvement. Students who have studied this qualification to develop their role or career include nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, health improvement specialists, other staff working in a variety of roles in health service settings, carers and service users. Students have used this qualification to develop their careers within their own field, as well as seeking career change to other fields concerned with healthcare improvement.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.