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Healthcare Innovation: Engineering, Systems and Improvement



Programme structure

The main driving force of this programme is the ambition to enhance the ability of people to innovate in the healthcare sector, requiring a challenging set of skills and knowledge. The programme comprises three stacked courses progressing from the PgCert, through the PgDip and then on to the MSt, applying and enrolling each year for the corresponding award. The course is designed so that the PgCert and PgDip work effectively as stand-alone courses, providing the student with flexibility whether or not to progress to the next stage. Progression through the structure will be dependent on obtaining a pass at the end of each year and, for the MSt, submission of a satisfactory research proposal. Students will exit with the highest of all awards achieved. Breaks will be allowed between years in a flexible manner, up to a maximum overall course duration of 8 years.

The PGCert comprises the following units:

  • Unit 1: Research Skills and Innovation
  • Unit 2: Healthcare Technologies I
  • Unit 3: Healthcare Systems Improvement

The PGDip comprises the following units:

  • Unit 4: Patient and Population Health
  • Unit 5: Healthcare Technologies II
  • Unit 6: Healthcare Systems Innovation

The final MSt year will require submission of a research dissertation on a topic in the space of scientific, medical, social or business innovation under the general theme of healthcare. 

Programme aims

The courses aim to:

  • provide professionally relevant teaching and learning of the knowledge and skills necessary to be at the forefront of efforts to engineer better care;
  • develop healthcare innovation experts with the necessary expertise, and originality of application, to pursue and expand their roles in the rapidly evolving environment of healthcare systems;
  • promote a comprehensive understanding of the practical and ethical considerations relevant to healthcare improvement and biomedical engineering;
  • provide work-relevant learning around the current problems, best-practice, challenges and potential solutions in the delivery of effective health and care;
  • create a professional network of like-minded individuals as leaders in the field of healthcare systems and biomedical engineering;
  • provide students with systems leadership skills and the knowledge to use technology to deliver value in healthcare, research, and commercial arenas;
  • equip graduates with the language and mindset to work in an interdisciplinary manner across the interface between medicine, engineering and commercial settings;
  • expose students to the industrial context and perspective within the technology area, providing opportunities throughout the study for involvement with industrial partners through workshops, seminars and the projects.

Target students and admissions criteria

The programme is targeted at both mid-career and new graduates who wish to develop their knowledge and skills in the healthcare innovation field. The part-time nature of the courses is designed to fit around the demands of full-time employment. The courses are broadly based and inter-disciplinary and students from any technical or healthcare-related discipline are welcomed.

It is expected that an applicant’s first degree will be in a subject relevant, or related to, life sciences, medical sciences, computation or engineering, but other backgrounds will be considered. The courses are structured to accommodate a range of backgrounds, but enthusiasm for learning new methodologies, technologies and approaches to healthcare innovation will be important.

Students will be expected to have having obtained a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). Non-native speakers will need to pass an English language test; further details of this can be found here:

The structure of the courses allows international students to attend on Student Visitor Visas and those in full-time employment, whether in the UK or abroad, to work and study at the same time.


Across the programme, teaching methods will include lectures, student and tutor-led seminars, small group teaching and supervisions, guest speaker sessions, group discussions and workshops, practical sessions, transferable skills workshops, team building sessions, independent research, coursework projects, case studies, and an individual research project leading to a dissertation.

Each unit in the PgCert and PgDip years will be associated with a residential week which will be carried out in Cambridge. Students will be required to attend and engage in all the residential week sessions. Teaching outside the residential weeks will be supported by supervisions (normally online) and online resources.

Teaching in the MSt year of the course will be predominantly online. Each student will be assigned a project supervisor who will provide regular monthly online supervision during the research project. This will be supplemented by group sessions/seminars to provide research skills training. MSt students will be required to attend in Cambridge for two two-day activities: presentation of their research project plans at the start of the year and presentation of their research findings towards the end of the year. Other year groups will be invited to attend the final presentation conference to provide the opportunity to network across year-groups.


Throughout the PGCert and PGDip years, students will be assessed during each Unit through written reports. Units 1, 3, 4 and 6 will be assessed by longer reports of between 3,000 and 4,000 words. Units 2 and 5 will be assessed through three short reports per unit, each of 4 pages in length.

For the MSt, the assessment of the research project will include a planning report of up to 3,000 words and a dissertation of between 10,000 and 12,000 words in length. Both the planning and final research reports will also be assessed by oral presentations. As well as demonstrating the ability to plan a research project, the planning document will require students to put their research into the context of future trends, and demonstrate a good understanding of how a systems approach affects the ability to innovate. The research dissertation will require students to have a synoptic overview of the course units in executing their project plan, using a more comprehensive knowledge and application of the methods taught in units 1 to 6.

Immigration requirements for international students

International students should ensure they understand the immigration considerations to attend the residential sessions. 

All nationals from outside the UK and Ireland who do not already hold immigration permission in the UK that permits study, would travel to the UK to attend residential sessions for the programme as a visitor. You are advised to read the information on the University’s short period of study immigration webpage and to note the expectations and restrictions of a visitor immigration status.

To meet the requirements of the visitor route, students on part-time courses of more than six months are expected not to remain in the UK for extended periods of time. The majority of study must be taken outside the UK and generally students will enter for the residential session and leave shortly after. It is not possible as a visitor on a course of more than six months to make the UK your main study location or residence, or make frequent or successive visits to stay in the UK for extended periods.

The Department can provide you with a letter of support for immigration purposes. Please note the PGCert, PGDip and MSt courses are not eligible to be sponsored for a student visa.

Upon arrival, and prior to commencing studies, students will need to provide their current passport and evidence of their immigration status. You will need to update the Department if there are any changes or updates to your immigration status whilst on the programme.