Peninsula Medical School

MSc Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety

Healthcare systems all share one current goal: to deliver safe, high quality care within budget against a backdrop of skill shortages and increasing patient demand. Our MSc in Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety will equip you with the confidence to address these challenges. On this programme you will develop the knowledge and expertise to analyse healthcare processes, propose evidence-based improvements and to lead implementation within your own workplace setting.

Available pathways

This programme is based on our previous MSc in Simulation and Patient Safety, but with additional flexibility at the postgraduate certificate stage where you study Patient Safety and Quality Improvement accompanied by either:

  • Simulation and Enhanced Learning – this module will allow you to become an expert practitioner in the use of simulation to advance clinical education across all clinical disciplines using a wide range of simulation modalities.


  • Human Factors in Healthcare – this module will develop your understanding and skills around the science of human factors and ergonomics allowing you to make system changes to enhance performance for the benefit of patients and staff.

There is also a part-time and intercalated route available for this programme.

Please contact for admissions queries.

Applications for 2020 entry

The programme structure will not change for the September 2020 intake as a result of COVID-19. Our programmes are tailor-made for busy clinicians and healthcare managers and run on a part-time, flexible basis helping you balance your studies with your personal and professional commitments. Modules will be delivered online if necessary.

Applications for 2021 entry

The programme is now accepting applications for 2021 delivery. The online delivery changes due to COVID-19 restrictions may continue into 2021 if necessary.  They are proving popular and successful.  The closing date for international applications is 30th June 2021. The closing date for home applications is 31st July 2021.  Please contact for further information.

Careers with this subject

Our programme equips you with the vital skills to implement change and improvement within a healthcare system. This expertise together with an appreciation of the leadership techniques required enhances your day-to-day working and provides you with the tools necessary to advance your career, regardless of your professional background.  Our students become part of a network of acknowledged experts in healthcare improvement, patient safety, simulation and human factors that has both regional and national credibility.

Key features

  • Equip yourself to become a leader in healthcare improvement, patient safety, simulation and human factors.
  • Develop expertise that is immediately relevant to practice and undertake assignments geared to projects which you can implement in your own organisation.
  • Experience our diverse faculty drawn from the medical school, the wider University, NHS trusts and external experts in each subject area, including national leads.
  • Enjoy testing out your new-found knowledge in our supportive classroom discussions where we offer the space and time away from the normal working environment to facilitate your personal and intellectual development, whatever your aspirations.
  • Benefit from a blended learning environment with delivery ranging between lectures, seminars, practical systems analysis techniques, simulation-based learning, and supported distance learning. Our academic team are available via a means of telecommunication methods for ongoing support during your studies.
  • Choose between two pathways at the certificate stage: study either simulation and enhanced learning or human factors in healthcare, both of which complement the first module, healthcare improvement and patient safety. Pick up the remaining module at the diploma stage.
  • There are options to take a clinical education, leadership or global health module at the diploma stage for students not wishing to do the dissertation.
  • Available as a full-time or part-time programme.
  • An opportunity for intercalating students to enrol on the full-time route from medical and dental undergraduate courses throughout the UK, provided that they have sufficient credits to continue with a masters (Level 7) qualification. Intercalating students will study alongside postgraduate students from a variety of backgrounds and will benefit from this vibrant educational environment.
  • Each module of this programme may be taken as a stand-alone CPD module, either with academic credits (for those completing the assignment) or attendance only. Please get in touch if this is something that could be useful to you or your colleagues.
  • Please contact the Programme Leads via for further information.

Course details
  • Programme overview

  • You’ll explore a range of simulation-based learning methods that can improve patient safety and quality of care through enhanced learning. Advance your knowledge, understanding and skills in patient safety and the application of these to your own workplace. You’ll be introduced to the role of human factors and develop a critical understanding of the current state of patient safety within healthcare and examine strategies to improve it.  You’ll be provided with the knowledge and skills associated with the project design, development and knowledge transfer process. You’ll also explore the physical and psychological links between organisations, employees and their work environment and how the concept of human factors influences the way we work. The use of simulation for training and assessment of human factors will be integral to the module.

    Core modules

    • Dissertation (DIS731)

      This module is the dissertation associated with the Masters programme and is designed to enable students to produce a project dissertation under supervision, and to demonstrate project design, development, evaluation and synthesis skills.

    • Project Design, Development and Knowledge Transfer (PDD721)

      This module will provide students with the knowledge and skills associated with the project design, development and knowledge transfer process. Students will gain practical experience of multi-disciplinary team working through problem identification and problem solving to encourage innovation and creativity in project design, development and knowledge transfer.

    • Simulation and Enhanced Learning (SIM711)

      An in-depth exploration of the range of simulation-based learning modalities that can improve patient safety and quality of care through Enhanced Learning. This module will incorporate critical study of the underpinning theory from education and expert practice, change management and innovation.

    • Patient Safety and Quality Improvement (SIM714)

      The aim of this module is to advance knowledge, understanding and skills in patient safety and the application of these to the participant's workplace in order to effect improvements in quality of care. It will develop a critical understanding of the principles underlying patient safety, the role of systems analysis in this and examine strategies to improve patient safety.

    • Human Factors in Healthcare (SIM715)

      The science of human factors has long been employed in industry to develop safer, efficient and more productive work models. This module focuses on the physical and psychological links between organisations, employees and their work environment and how the concept of human factors influences the way that we work in healthcare. The use of simulation for training and assessment of human factors will be integral to the module.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MSc Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety programme specification 6505

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.
Entry requirements

Normally a recognised first degree or equivalent will be required. Entrants who have acquired experience through work or other means that enables staff responsible for admissions to be confident of the candidate’s ability to succeed in the programme may also be considered, in line with QAA guidance.

If your first language is not English you will be required to provide evidence of competence in English language:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): The minimum acceptable English language requirement is IELTS 6.5 or above with no less than 6.0 in each category
    (listening, reading, speaking, writing).

Accreditation of prior certificated learning (APCL) and accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) refer to the process by which previous formal certificated learning and informal non-certificated learning can be awarded credit towards modules within the sphere of Higher Education. Credit for prior learning, whether certificated or experiential, may count towards the requirements for the named award. The maximum amount of credit for prior learning (certificated or experiential) claimed towards the award is 120 credits. To qualify for the award of a masters degree, your dissertation must be completed at Plymouth University. If you are seeking credit (whether certificated or experiential), you will normally be required to apply for such credit on receipt of an offer of a place on the programme. Requests for APCL if you are already on a programme will be considered, provided that you submit the request in the session before you would normally begin the module/stage for which you are seeking credit. In the case of requests for APEL, this would be at least six months prior to the beginning of the session before you would normally begin the module(s)/stage against which you are seeking credit.

The University of Plymouth is committed to providing equality for all irrespective of age, disability, ethnicity (including race, colour and nationality), gender, gender reassignment, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity and will work to ensure that all students, employees and visitors, as well as those who apply or seek to apply to work or study at the University, are treated fairly and are not subjected to discrimination by the University on any of these grounds (University Equality and Diversity Policy, Revised April 2011).

The Faculty of Health welcomes applications from people with disabilities who will be considered on the same academic grounds as other potential students. Considerations about individual needs arising from disability will be made separately, and we will strive to meet an individual disabled student's needs wherever possible and in consultation with Disability Services.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

A full MSc represents 180 credits.

New student 2020 2021
Home £9,450 £9,750
International £19,575 £16,200

Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

How to apply

Make sure you meet the entry requirements for this programme.

Before you apply

Make sure you have all your supporting documents. Documents required usually include:
  • Evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • Personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in this course and outlining the nature of previous and current teaching experience. You can write this into the online application form, or send it as a separate attachment.
  • Two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course 
  • Two passport photographs
  • Curriculum Vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • Proof of sponsorship, if applicable

When to apply

Applications for postgraduate programmes of study can usually be made throughout the year. When applying for a taught postgraduate programme, please check for any submission deadlines with the Medicine and Dentistry Admissions team (contact details below). For full-time programmes, you may be invited for interview.

Check the closing date and apply as early as possible as our programmes are popular.

Submitting an application

Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page).

Once you have registered and logged in, please enter the ‘course code’ which can be found above into the search bar to begin your application.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our online admissions policy for taught programmes. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

What happens after I apply?

For more information contact the Medicine and Dentistry Admissions team.

If you would like to speak to one of our course information advisors, please contact us:

University of Plymouth

Faculty of Health
The John Bull Building
Research Way
Plymouth Science Park

Tel: +44 (0)1752 437333
Fax: +44 (0)1752 517842

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information, to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) or you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Information team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. The Doctoral College is also available to answer any queries on our postgraduate research degrees.

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by the University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office.


Professor Thomas Gale named Principal Fellow of Higher Education Academy 

Professor Thomas Gale, Associate Professor in Clinical Skills and Simulation at the Peninsula Medical School and Director of CAMERA, has been named a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). 

Thomas received the Fellowship thanks to a sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development, and providing a key contribution to high quality student learning at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Collaboration for the Advancement of Medical Education Research and Assessment (CAMERA)

We seek to inform assessment across medical education through funded collaborative research that impacts on the international literature, educational theory, practice and policy at Plymouth, nationally and internationally.

CAMERA brings together a research group dedicated to the improvement of healthcare through evidence based education.

Learn more about CAMERA's research