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Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Leadership

This postgraduate certificate course is targeted at doctors and other clinicians, working both in primary care and in acute services. It offers development in aspects of leadership relevant to you as a clinician working on the ward or in the clinic, so that you can play a fuller role in improving health service quality and discuss performance issues and potential innovations effectively with managerial colleagues. Studying for this postgraduate certificate will deepen your understanding of service performance and clinical team-working. This qualification requires developing detailed improvement plans for the service you are working in.

This postgraduate certificate course is relevant to clinicians at any stage in their post-qualification career. If you are in formal charge of a clinic or practice, you can use your studies to demonstrate and deepen your leadership competence. If you are in a more junior clinical role, you can use your certificate studies to explore leadership opportunities available to you in their current role, demonstrating knowledge and competence needed to a build your promotion case. The certificate is obtained by study of a series of short professional development (CPD) courses, each requiring only 25 or 50 hours of study. When you have completed CPD courses totalling 250 hours of study you can use these within the framework of an assessment module, which on successful completion will give you 30 credits at postgraduate level. You can then go on to study further specified continuing professional development (CPD) courses totalling another 250 hours of study. You can use these within a similar assessment framework module to obtain another 30 credits. Successful completion of the two assessment modules will enable you to achieve the Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Leadership.

You will need to study a minimum of 12 CPD courses and two assessment modules. Each CPD course can be studied and completed within 8 to 12 weeks. There are two opportunities a year to register for the assessment modules.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

The study content meets the quality improvement agenda and relates to the medical leadership competency framework.

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 postgraduate certificate, you require:

60 credits from the following compulsory modules

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
Leading health service delivery and improvement (B832)

Integrate and assess what you have already learned from your continuing professional development (CPD) courses in clinical leadership to demonstrate your increased competence.

See full description.

30 May
Leading healthcare innovation (B833)

This course is designed for people working in a healthcare environment including doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. You will learn to demonstrate increased competence in clinical leadership.

See full description.

30 May

To successfully achieve B832, you need to complete the following:

  • Four compulsory 25-hour short courses:
      • What is clinical leadership? (GB080)
      • Developing yourself for clinical leadership (GB081)
      • Clinical teams and how they develop (GB082)
      • Your service: governance and accountability (GB083).
    • Three compulsory 50-hour short courses:
      • Your service: assessing quality (GB084)
      • Evaluating the flow of activities (GB085)
      • Developing options for service improvement (GB086)

    The assessment component is contained within B832.

    To successfully achieve B833, you need to complete the following:

    • Three compulsory 50-hour courses:
      • Understanding service innovation (GB087)
      • Developing cases for innovation (GB088)
      • Planning and leading service innovation (GB089).
    • Two optional short courses of 50 hours each, selected from:
      • Innovating across boundaries (GB090)
      • User-centred service innovations (GB091)
      • Innovating in primary care (GB092).

    The assessment component is contained within B833.

    If you have not already started studying these CPD courses before registering on the B832 and B833 assessment modules please note that the CPD courses need to be completed within a six-month timeframe for each assessment module according to the study calendar you will receive when you register for the assessment module.

Educational aims

The qualification is aimed at doctors, clinicians and other health professionals and provided you with a way in which you can:

  • achieve leadership and organisational competencies required by their professional bodies, the Royal Colleges, through engaging with the practical leadership challenges they face during clinical practice, regardless of stage in career or level of formal managerial responsibility
  • make an effective contribution to the drive to improve quality in health service provision, through creative teamworking and leadership of others.

Learning outcomes

The qualification provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this qualification, you will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Theories of professional leadership and different leadership styles in relation to individual and group development, including the coaching and mentoring role.
  • Recent developments in health sector organisation, governance and management, including NHS reforms and the central role of commissioning.
  • Theories of health service performance measurement & management that recognise multiple viewpoints: clinical, financial, operational, human resources, patient experience and social marketing.
  • Approaches for evaluating current service performance and developing improvement plans, including incremental as well as more radical innovations.

Cognitive skills

On completion, you will be able to:

  • Assess critically the relevance of a wide range of organisational and leadership theories to your own context and role as a clinician.
  • Combine performance information clinical and organisational knowledge to understand complex service provision issues.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion you will demonstrate:

  • Assess the leadership elements required in your own role, the strengths and weaknesses of how you currently carry them out and identify priorities for your development as a clinical leader.
  • Develop proposals and implementation plans for incremental improvements in existing services, involving other team members and relevant stakeholders appropriately.
  • Develop proposals for new services or innovations in health service provision, including detailed and well evidenced business cases and implementation plans.
  • Analyse forces for and against proposed changes in service provision, develop creative options to take account of resistance and opposition, and reason critically about which ones will work.

Key skills

On completion you will demonstrate that you can:

  • reason critically and creatively about your leadership actions as a clinician
  • demonstrate self awareness, self-reflection and management of self
  • recognise utilise individuals' contributions to clinical teams, as a basis for influencing others in productive directions
  • recognise and address ethical issues and dilemmas, applying relevant legal knowledge and appropriate values.

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