National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework

Higher Education Institutions to Develop Master’s Extension Pathways Announced

The NIHR and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges are delighted to announce that King’s College London, the University of Exeter and the University of Sheffield have been successful in their applications to secure funding from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to develop Master of Research and Master of Science extension pathways aligned with the NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework. Please visit the NIHR website for further information.

Introduction

Could you be a Research Delivery leader?

Are you a healthcare professional looking to develop your research delivery skillset?

Are you an employer looking for new ways to develop the next generation of Research Delivery Leads?

If so, please read on.


The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), led by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) are working with Higher Education Institutions to develop a framework of Master’s level qualifications, which will provide the necessary networks, skills and confidence needed for healthcare practitioners from any regulated profession to lead and support clinical research delivery.


Postgraduate Certificates aligned with the Framework launched in September 2022. Master’s extension pathways, including a Postgraduate Diploma exit pathway, will launch in autumn 2023.

Register for Updates

If you would like to register for future updates about the NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework, please complete this form.

Framework Overview

The NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Framework is designed for learners with busy work schedules who will be studying part time. It consists of two key elements:


  • Online modules - Flexible access to modules of high-quality interactive learning. These theoretical modules will develop knowledge of and insight into the approaches to, and delivery of, clinical research.


  • Research Practice Experiences (RPE) – Practical modules that enable learners to take part in clinical research in their area of interest, as part of existing research studies, whilst being supported under the supervision and mentorship of a senior researcher. This will develop their experience and expertise to grow future local research leadership capability within the NHS.


The diagram to the right provides a simplified overview of the Framework and details of the course timing for the programme’s first cohort of learners.

Diagram of Framework

*Dependant on whether modules are worth 15 or 20 credits.

The Postgraduate Certificate level consists of 1 RPE module and, where the higher education institution offers 20 credit modules, 2 online modules or, where the higher education institution offers 15 credit modules, 3 online modules. The first cohort commenced the course in September 2022 and most learners are expected to complete the course by August 2023.


Learners who have achieved the Postgraduate Certificate or have equivalent qualifications/experience can progress to the Postgraduate Diploma level. This consists of 1 RPE module and 2 online modules. The first cohort will commence in September 2023 and most learners are expected to complete the course by August 2024.


Learners who have achieved the Postgraduate Diploma can progress to the Master’s level, which consists of a dissertation based on a research project. The first cohort will commence in September 2024 and most learners are expected to complete the course by August 2025.


Each level of the Framework will be evaluated to ensure that it meets its aim of providing the necessary networks, skills and confidence for healthcare practitioners from any regulated profession to lead and support clinical research delivery.

Framework Outcomes

Learners will be able to undertake the credentials in stages to develop their chosen career path.


The Postgraduate Certificate provides core learning modules to quickly bring learners to the level of Local Co-Investigators on a variety of studies. They may be able to act as Local Principal Investigators on less complex research studies as their expertise deepens.


The Postgraduate Diploma will extend learners’ expertise and offer opportunities for methodological specialisation. Learners can be awarded a Master's qualification following the successful completion of a dissertation rooted in networked research.


Typically Master's alumni will be able to act as Local Principal Investigators on most studies.

Postgraduate Certificates


The University of Exeter and Newcastle University both launched Postgraduate Certificate courses aligned with the NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework in September 2022.

The courses focus on the practical elements of clinical research, and are aimed at experienced healthcare practitioners from all professional backgrounds who aspire to take on the roles of Co-Investigator or Principal Investigator (PI). This includes those who have no or limited research experience and those currently working in research delivery.


A Postgraduate Certificate is worth 60 credits, which translates into 600 learning hours. These 600 hours will comprise teaching, supervision time, self-directed study, workplace learning and preparation and completion of assignments.

Further details of the courses offered by each university are provided below.


You can also watch the video (28 minutes, 10 seconds long) below of an event held on 28 March 2022 to launch the Postgraduate Certificates to potential learners and their employers. The event itself included question and answer sessions for both potential learners and their employers. All questions raised at the event's question and answer sessions are answered in the Further Questions section at the bottom of this page, and are therefore not included in the event video.


We have also made a transcript of the event.

NIHR March 22 Whole Session v3.mp4


Learners will complete three compulsory modules:

  1. Integrity and Leadership in Research for Health and Healthcare

  2. Doing Clinical Research

  3. Research Practice Experience

In addition to these three compulsory 15 credit modules, learners will select one optional module from a menu. This will allow students to start to tailor their programme to a clinical research project that they are involved in, follow up particular interests or build foundational knowledge, skills and confidence, in topics such as statistics, clinical trials, and epidemiology.


For further information, please visit the University of Exeter’s course page.


Learners will complete three modules:

  1. Integrity, Infrastructure and Information Governance in Healthcare Research

  2. Study Design, Data Management and Communication of Clinical Research

  3. Research Delivery in Practice

The first two are interactive taught modules. The third module is a workplace-based module. This allows acquired skills in leadership in clinical research delivery to be directly applied in the learner’s own work environment under the mentorship of experienced senior clinical researchers.


For further information, please visit the Newcastle University course page.

Master’s Extension Pathways

King’s College London, the University of Exeter and the University of Sheffield have been selected to develop and deliver contrasting Master’s programmes aligned with the Framework, which will include a Postgraduate Diploma exit award option.


Further details of the courses offered by each university are provided below.

The Faculty of Nursing Midwifery and Palliative Care (NMPC) is an internationally renowned centre for the delivery of cutting-edge education, training and research. We are delighted to have been selected to be developing and delivering the innovative NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s extension pathway working collaboratively with all Health Faculties at KCL along with King’s Health Partners (KHP).

Postgraduate Diploma Learners will complete a 30-credit compulsory module:

Research Practice Experience 2. This is a workplace-based module that provides participants with the opportunity for ‘hands on’ clinical research experience in a supervised setting.

In addition, learners will undertake two 15-credits optional modules from a menu. This will allow participants to follow up their personal interests and further develop knowledge and research skills in topics such as clinical leadership, clinical trials, health economics and social research methods.

At Master’s level learners will complete a 60-credit dissertation based on a research project.


For further information, please visit King’s College London course page.

Please note: the Master of Research Clinical Research course is subject to an internal validation process during 2022/23. The prospectus information will be updated prior to the start of the course.

We are delighted to have been awarded additional funding from the NIHR and AoMRC to develop extension qualifications to our new Postgraduate Certificate in Leading Clinical Research Delivery (which launched in September 2022).


Students will be able to progress from the Postgraduate Certificate to a Postgraduate Diploma, by the completion of a second practical research experience module and two specialist optional modules of their choice. On completion of the Postgraduate Diploma, progression to the Master of Science degree in Leading Clinical Research Delivery will be by completion of an independent research project.


Details about the Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Science degree can be found on the University of Exeter’s course web page.

The University of Sheffield is delighted to be developing and delivering the NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s extension pathway. Our new, innovative online programme will offer an alternative, flexible and accessible route into health and clinical research for those who might otherwise remain excluded.


Depending on the student’s route, the curriculum may include:

  • Inclusive Research Practice

  • Innovative Designs for Research Impact

  • Leading and Managing Health Care Services

  • Research practice experience - an exciting work based practice experience module

  • Dissertation - a flexible dissertation opportunity allowing students to build on their research practice experiences and where feasible tailor it to their own particular learning needs, interest and context.


Subject to approval, our programme will allow for Recognition of Previous Learning (RPL) for recognition of learning gained from other modules (at the University of Sheffield or other HEIs). Equivalent work based experiences may also be considered.

For further information please visit the University of Sheffield's course webpage.

Framework Levels

The diagram below provides a simplified overview of how learners can work towards achieving each level of the Framework.

Diagram of credits required to achieve PGDip and Master's degree

The Postgraduate Certificate consists of 60 credits, which equates to approximately 600 hours of learning.


Once a learner has completed a Postgraduate Certificate, an additional 60 credits are required to complete the Postgraduate Diploma course.


Once a learner has completed a Postgraduate Diploma, an additional 60 credits are required to complete the full Master’s course, which requires 180 credits in total across the three qualifications.


At Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma level, the learner activities comprise teaching, supervision time, self-directed study, workplace learning and preparation and completion of assignments. At Master’s level learners will complete a dissertation based on a research project.


For learners completing the qualifications on a part-time basis, each qualification will usually be completed over a period of 10 months, taking 3 years to obtain the full Master’s qualification.


Further details about the Master’s Extension Pathways will be made available in due course.

Clinicians working with patients

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework?


The Framework will help define and build a national infrastructure of Master’s-level training targeted to meeting the ongoing needs of the clinician researcher community.


The Framework is being designed to be flexible, both in terms of ensuring learners can step in and out of the training pathways (and between Higher Education Institution providers), and in ensuring learners are able to access the courses regardless of location and to fit around clinical working commitments.


The Framework’s ultimate goal is to ensure more patients benefit from clinical research in everyday settings, while simultaneously providing attractive jobs in these areas to enhance recruitment and retention.

Clinicians discussing paperwork

What Are Clinician Researchers?

Clinician researchers are individuals with responsibility for leading or contributing to clinical research locally within their clinical setting whilst maximising the potential of working as part of a clinical research network. Within a research team, they would predominantly take on the role of Co-Investigator or Principal Investigator (PI).


Clinician researchers may be from all registered healthcare disciplines including medicine, nursing, midwifery, pharmacists, healthcare scientists and other allied health professions.

What Are Credentials?

Credentials can include formal academic qualifications and also comprise achievements recognised by professional organisations and related standard setting bodies.

What Is The Research Practice Experience?

The Research Practice Experience is a practical module, which enables learners to take part in existing clinical research studies in their area of interest, supported by the supervision and mentorship of a senior researcher. This will support the learner’s development of experience and expertise, which will help to grow future local research leadership capability.


The Research Practice Experience focuses on applied learning, both in the learners’ work contexts and through participation in existing, networked research. It supports the phased development of experience and expertise to enable learners to develop as leaders of local research.


Each learner will be supported by a mentor or equivalent from a clinical research network, who will complement the support of the academic supervisor and programme lead at the Higher Education Institution.

Image demonstrating networking

Who Is The NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework Aimed At?


The NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework is aimed at experienced healthcare practitioners from all professional backgrounds who aspire to take on the roles of Co-Investigator or Principal Investigator (PI). This includes those who have no or limited research experience and those currently working in research delivery.


Clinician researchers may be from all registered healthcare disciplines including medicine, nursing, midwifery, pharmacists, healthcare scientists and other allied health professions.


Learners undertaking programmes aligned with the Framework will be able to apply for a limited number of DHSC funded bursaries to pay their course fees.

What Are The Entry Requirements?


The entry requirements will be set by the Higher Education Institutions offering the courses. These are likely to be in line with their other postgraduate course entry requirements for similar courses.


Further information about the Postgraduate Certificates is available on the University of Exeter’s course webpage and Newcastle University’s course webpage.


Further information about the Master’s extension pathways will be provided when this is available.

How Much Will The Courses Cost?

The course fees will be set by the Higher Education Institutions offering the courses. These will be in line with their other postgraduate course fees for similar courses.


Further information about the Postgraduate Certificates is available on the University of Exeter’s course webpage and Newcastle University’s course webpage.


Further information about the Master’s extension pathways will be provided when this is available.


Learners undertaking programmes aligned with the Framework will be able to apply for a limited number of DHSC funded bursaries to pay their course fees.


Pound sign

Further Questions


Please email any further questions about the NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework to credentials@nihr.ac.uk.


All questions submitted to the NIHR-AoMRC Clinician Researcher Credentials Programme Team are listed below in an anonymised format.


The list of questions is best viewed on a desktop, laptop or tablet. If we can assist in supporting accessibility requests please contact the Programme Team by emailing credentials@nihr.ac.uk.

Credentials Website Questions Received