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Clinical Research (MSc)

  • Duration: 3 years
  • Mode: Part time distance learning

Applications are closed

Applications for this course are currently closed. Contact us for more information.

Clinical research at work on a medical ward

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

This part-time, distance learning course offers extensive knowledge and expertise relevant to those working in clinical trials. Its is also suitable for those in a senior role in clinical research in a pharmaceutical, biotechnology, device, contract research or site management company or the NHS.


Leading in best practice in clinical research

Gain advanced understanding of best practice in clinical research to apply to running clinical trials.


Advanced training to enhance a career in leading clinical trials

Experience in-depth training in drug development, therapeutics, clinical trials, and regulatory GCP requirement for clinical trials,


Insights from the Pharmaceutical industry

Benefit from the latest key developments in Clinical Research with insights from the Pharmaceutical Industry.


Professional networking opportunities

The diversity of employment backgrounds of participants provides an ideal environment for networking with other clinical research personnel.


Internationally recognised School with close academic support

Opportunity to undertake a research project at an internationally recognised research school, and receive close academic support from an experienced personal tutor.

The MSc in Clinical Research is designed to advance and enhance your career in Clinical Research in the pharmaceutical industry, health service, contract research organisations, regulatory authorities, data management organisations and in medical writing.

It aims to provide you with an enhanced level of knowledge, understanding and skills in clinical research. It provides an overview of clinical trial processes and the regulations for bringing in a new chemical entity, and it provides an enhanced level of knowledge and understanding of therapeutic areas and their treatments in relation to clinical trials, drug registrations and drug safety. Clinical research methods and data analysis skills are taught and embedded throughout the programme. You will demonstrate and be assessed in these skills as part of the third year Research Dissertation.

The course is designed to increase your knowledge and skills not only in Clinical Research but also in a diverse range of therapeutic areas. This allows you to move confidently between therapeutic areas and increase your potential value to employers. In the dissertation year, you will be encouraged to carry out a project which has direct value to your employer. 

‘Studying at Cardiff University for the MSc in Clinical Research as was both enjoyable and rewarding as it gave me the opportunity to further my career. I was greatly impressed by the excellent teaching and the support I received during my final year dissertation. And I had the chance to work in a Clinical Trial and Research Unit which was invaluable. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the course.’
Manish, MSc Clinical Research

Where you'll study

School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

We are a leader in clinical skills development with an international reputation for teaching and research.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 6419
  • MarkerKing Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:2 honours degree in a relevant subject area such as biological or life sciences or a healthcare-related subject, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.

If you do not have a degree in a relevant area, your application may be considered on the basis of your professional experience. A reference must be provided by your employer to evidence that you currently work in an area relevant to the programme. This should be signed, dated and less than six months old at the time you submit your application.  You should also provide evidence of professional registration with the relevant regulatory body.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

The program is delivered on a part-time basis over three years.

In the first year, students will study 3x 20 credit core modules.

In the second year, students will study 2x 20 credit core modules and choose one optional 20 credit module from a list of 5 options. It may not be possible to run optional modules where 5 or fewer students have enrolled on the module. This means that not all optional modules may be available for you to study in a particular year.

In the third year, students undertake an individual project worth 60 credits.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Year one

In this year you will study 60 credits in three 20 credit core modules. The first module covers the preclinical development of a therapy. The second module covers clinical pharmacology including mechanisms of drug action and pharmacokinetics. The third module covers the early stages of clinical investigation from ‘first in man’ to phase II clinical trials.

Successful completion will enable progression on to year two of the programme. Students will select which of the 20 credit optional modules they would like to study in the second year towards the end of year 1 (March). Notification of which module they will undertake will be made following successful completion of all first-year modules.  

Year two

In this year you will study 60 credits, two core 20 credit modules and 1 optional module that you can select. The first module continues on from phase II clinical trials into phase III and the approval process. The second module progresses into phase IV clinical trials and marketing of new therapies.

You will study an additional 20 credits from the optional modules available. It may not be possible to run optional modules where 5 or fewer students have enrolled on the module. This means that not all optional modules may be available for you to study in a particular year.

Year three

In this year you will prepare and write a MSc thesis (60 credits).

Module titleModule codeCredits
Research MethodsPHT30160 credits

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

The course will be taught through a series of pod-casts, online formative exercises, online tutorials and discussion forums.

Self-directed study forms an important part of the course and you will be directed to specific study skills to aid your learning.

In order to help your progression, sample study timelines will be provided with regular opportunities to liaise with academic staff in online tutorials to provide opportunities for guidance and formative feedback on progress.

Electronic learning resources will be made available in our virtual learning environment (Learning Central). Online tutorials will be undertaken using the University conferencing system (Collaborate). 

How will I be assessed?

Assessments measure academic progression towards the learning outcomes for each module.  Many modules include formative assessments (assessments which do not count towards the module mark) which are intended to provide you with feedback and an indication of your progress.

Methods of summative assessment (assessments which count towards the module mark) vary depending upon the module and their specific learning outcomes. Methods include portfolios, oral presentations, written assignments such as essays, reflective assignments, analytical reviews and data analysis/interpretation.

The final year research project is assessed via the submission of a dissertation that requires a substantive literature review and evidence of analysis in a topic of clinical research.  Assessment of the thesis will ascertain whether and to what degree you are able to display scientific writing skills, data analysis, critical thinking, and application of a scientific approach to the development of new knowledge or understanding. 

How will I be supported?

  • Initial induction programme for orientation and introducing the programme.
  • Student handbook and Modular Programme Guide.
  • Provision of an indicative study timeline, access to regular online tutorials and formatively assessed practice exercises.
  • Extensive library and other learning resources including IT suites.
  • Access to student email, electronic and learning resources (learning central).
  • Provision of personalised feedback and live access to academic staff during selected scheduled online tutorials.
  • All students will be assigned a personal tutor to support you in your studies.
  • Electronic access to content providers
  • Ready access to the Course Director

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you. 

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • a systematic understanding of the principles of pharmacology and pharmacokinetics and their application to clinical research
  • a critical awareness of the ethics of human testing and how these are safeguarded by international regulatory bodies (Europe, Japan and USA)
  • a comprehensive understanding and application of Good Clinical Practice applied to clinical research
  • a critical awareness of the fundamental principles, goals and management of different clinical trial stages
  • an ability to analyse, critically assess, interpret and report clinical research data
  • a critical understanding and knowledge of how therapeutics are approved for use and the role of health economics in those decisions
  • an understanding and knowledge of preclinical therapeutic development and key milestones on the journey to clinical testing

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to identify appropriate information sources to inform knowledge and understanding of topics related to clinical research
  • an ability to critically appraise, summarise, interpret and communicate clinical research findings to lay or expert audiences
  • analytical and critical thinking skills required to identify and resolve potential problems in the sphere of clinical research

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • advanced scholarship and practical experience in designing, interpreting and reporting clinical research data
  • an ability to evaluate methodologies in the field of clinical research and develop critiques of them
  • an ability to interpret and apply the principles of Good Clinical Practice to the conduct of research

Transferable/Key Skills:

  • an ability to write about the conduct, findings and interpretation of clinical research concisely, objectively and clearly to lay or expert audiences
  • an ability to critically appraise your own and other’s work
  • an ability to analyse and interpret quantitative and qualitative research data
  • an ability to be an independent, self-directed learner able to undertake and act upon critical self-reflection.

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £3,817 None
Year two £3,817 None
Year three £3,817 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £9,150 £2,500
Year two £9,150 None
Year three £9,150 None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Career prospects

Clinical research is an expanding and highly competitive area. Undertaking this MSc will provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to advance and enhance a career in clinical research.

This programme is suitable for graduates from healthcare, life sciences or other related disciplines, and healthcare professionals who are interested in a career in clinical trials in the health service, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, device  industries, Contract Research Organisations/ suppliers to the pharmaceutical industry. It is also ideal for professionals working in clinical trials who wish to further develop their knowledge and skills of clinical trials.

Potential career opportunities include clinical trials, clinical research, clinical data management, regulation of clinical trials, medical writing, academic clinical trials, Phase I clinical trials units, the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals, archiving in clinical trials, quality assurance in clinical trials, clinical research project management, clinical trial administration, clinical trial co-ordinator, clinical trial administration/support to clinical trials and more.

After successfully completing this course, you will have an advanced standing both clinically and academically, with the potential to be at the forefront of your chosen profession.

Next steps


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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.