Postgraduate study

Clinical Trials (Online Learning) MSc, PgCert, PgDip, PgProfDev

Awards: MSc, PgCert, PgDip, PgProfDev

Study modes: Part-time, Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

Funding opportunities

You can work full-time in clinical trials or a clinical background and study for this degree. I personally feel that studying with the University of Edinburgh has been the best experience for me.

Asha Mathews MSc Clinical Trials graduate 2018
Asha Mathews               MSc Clinical Trials graduate 2018

Never more relevant, our mission is to equip our global students with the principles underpinning the design, management, appraisal and reporting of clinical trials to improve health

Study with us to gain a qualification in the theory and practice of health care interventions including randomised control trials. Our suite of online courses allows students to qualify at Certificate, Diploma and Masters level.

Who is it for?

The programme will support the demand for appropriately qualified health professionals to lead clinical trials of all phases. It is suitable for graduates in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, life sciences and other allied disciplines involved in Clinical Trials. It also attracts students who are working in clinical trials but have not studied for many years, and people who wish to move into the field of clinical trials and change their career.

How is it taught?

Each course is divided into a set of themed sections in which material is presented in a blend of short online lectures, practical case studies, directed readings, podcasts and archived webinars. Discussion board tasks and live expert guest lectures offer an opportunity for collaborative critical discourse and debate of current issues under the guidance of expert teaching staff.

*(Revised 26 May 2020 with updated programme description.)

Online learning is a way to study for an internationally recognised qualification without needing to attend classes on campus. It is aimed at those who wish to study for a postgraduate qualification alongside work or other commitments.

Online programmes are of equal value to on-campus programmes. The only difference is the way the course is delivered. Our online learning platform enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or work place.

As an online student you have access to the University's excellent resources. We use the latest in educational technology tools and systems. Our VLE has a modern, intuitive, fully accessible and responsive interface, delivering a powerful teaching and learning experience on any device with an internet connection, anytime, anywhere.

The programme is delivered fully online with a study commitment of 12-15 hours per week. It has been designed to embrace the role that technology can play to enhance teaching, learning and assessment, allowing for a flexible approach that caters to different ways of learning.

Each student will be supported as an active member of a vibrant global online community where the learning is facilitated by tutors, tasks and materials that foster active, relevant and collaborative learning.

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:

*(Revised 26 May 2020 with updated information on online learning.)

You can study to Masters, Diploma or Certificate level*.

In Year 1, students will follow 2 compulsory courses ensuring a solid foundation in the basics of randomised control trials and medical statistics, and the ethical and regulatory context underpinning clinical research.

Our suite of elective courses offers students the opportunity to explore areas of interest in more depth and to tailor the programme to their own learning needs and career goals.

Postgraduate Professional Development**

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout a year you may only start a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September.

Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Find out more:

*(Revised 26 May 2020 with updated programme structure information.)

**(Revised 23 June 2020 to include information on Postgraduate Professional Development.)

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

Graduates of this programme will have gained:

  • a critical understanding of the principles, science and evidence underpinning clinical trials

  • the ability to critique current approaches in clinical trial design and implementation

  • the capacity to take responsibility for their own learning and development within the clinical trials environment

  • the ability to communicate the design, implementation and results of clinical trials to a variety of audiences

  • the resolve to work professionally and with integrity in a multi-disciplinary research team to deliver effective clinical trials

  • the skills to design, implement and report clinical trials

*(Revised 26 May 2020 with learning outcomes.)

Our Certificate, Diploma and Masters courses are designed to improve your prospects in the rapidly growing field of clinical trials research. Students have found excellent opportunities in academia, the public and non-profit health sectors and industry including pharmaceutical and biotech companies and contract research organisations (CROs).

Roles exist in a variety of areas including:

  • Clinical research - trial managers, administrators, clinical research associates

  • Quality Assurance and Control - trial monitors, QA managers, pharmacovigilance

  • Data management - data managers, biostatistics and programming

  • Regulatory affairs - global regulatory lead, information management associate, executive roles

  • Medical affairs - Chief and Principal Investigators, medical liaison, medical communications and writing

  • Product development - medical devices

*(Revised 26 May 2020 with updated areas of career opportunities.)

Some comments from past graduates

I have gained so much from hearing about different practices from around the world.

The online discussions were an invaluable part of the course.

The focus on clinical practice is an advantage of this course.

Staff are very supportive.

You can work full-time in clinical trials or a clinical background and study for this degree. I personally feel that studying with the University of Edinburgh has been the best experience for me.

The group work was really useful. I felt I got to know the students.

As English is not my first language I found that whenever a concept is difficult to understand, I was able to re-watch lectures and review online notes at my convenience.

Listen to two of our graduates describe how they benefited from our programme.

*(Revised 26 May 2020 with added student quotes.)

A medical degree (MBChB or equivalent), or a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

We may also consider your application if you have 3-5 years' relevant work experience; please contact the Programme Team to check before you apply. You may be admitted to certificate level only in the first instance.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2020 entry we accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • PTE Academic: total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered).
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.

*(Revised 21 February 2020 to remove PTE Academic from 2021 entry requirements. Revised 21 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition in 2020 and 2021 entry requirements.)

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PgCert1 YearPart-timeTuition fees
PgDip2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PgProfDevUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Administrator, David Stevens
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 9242
  • Contact: MScCT@ed.ac.uk
  • Programme Director, Stuart Ralston
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 9242
  • Contact: MScCT@ed.ac.uk
  • Usher Institute of Population Health and Informatics
  • Old Medical School
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG
Programme start date Application deadline
14 September 2020 28 August 2020

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Administrator, David Stevens
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 9242
  • Contact: MScCT@ed.ac.uk
  • Programme Director, Stuart Ralston
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 9242
  • Contact: MScCT@ed.ac.uk
  • Usher Institute of Population Health and Informatics
  • Old Medical School
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG