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Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework


The Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework provides Master’s level qualifications.

It's for experienced healthcare practitioners from all professional backgrounds who want to take on leadership roles in clinical research delivery.


Part-time courses in clinical research delivery:

  • Postgraduate Certificate
  • Postgraduate Diploma
  • Master's degree


  • One to three years
  • Online and practical workplace-based experience modules
  • Offered by four universities in England

What is the Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework?

It's a national framework of  Master’s level qualifications. We worked with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and universities to develop it.

The framework aims to give you the skills and confidence to lead and support clinical research studies. It focuses on the practical elements of clinical research delivery.

There are two key elements:

  1. Online modules - flexible access to theoretical modules that provide an insight into the delivery of clinical research.
  2. Research Practice Experience (RPE) – practical modules where learners put their learning into practice by working on clinical research studies under the supervision of a senior researcher.

The video below gives an overview of the Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework:

"The possibility of having [the course] online brings a lot of flexibility. It allows you not only to attend lectures from wherever you are, but also to go back on them so you can really dig deep into the content. So that has been really positive."

Javi Magan Ventura, past student

Qualifications and what's involved

There are three qualifications on offer.

You can take the Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma as individual qualifications.

Once you've achieved the Postgraduate Diploma, you can progress to the full Master’s degree.

Postgraduate Certificate (entry level)

  • The Postgraduate Certificate provides core learning modules to quickly bring learners to the level of Co-Investigators on a variety of studies
  • Graduates may be able to act as Principal Investigators on less complex research studies as their expertise deepens
  • The qualification consists of one Research Practice Experience (RPE) module and, depending on the university delivering the course, two or three online modules


You are usually expected to be from a registered healthcare profession and have a degree in a relevant subject to take the Postgraduate Certificate. You could start at this level if you have an equivalent qualification or relevant experience. You will need to discuss this with the university you want to apply to.

Postgraduate Diploma

  • The Postgraduate Diploma extends learners’ expertise and offers different opportunities for methodological specialisation, depending on which university you enrol in
  • Graduates may be able to act as Principal Investigators on a variety of research studies according to their clinical expertise
  • This qualification consists of one RPE module and two online modules


You usually need to pass the Postgraduate Certificate before progressing to the Postgraduate Diploma. You could start at this level if you have an equivalent qualification or relevant experience.  You will need to discuss this with the university you want to apply to.

Master's degree

  • This qualification consists of a dissertation based on a research project
  • Typically Master's graduates will be able to act as Principal Investigators on most studies, according to their clinical expertise


Learners who have achieved the Postgraduate Diploma can progress to the Master’s degree. 

"The course work has given me the confidence to undertake clinical research, and it played an essential role in my recent promotion to a senior research nurse."

Arvin Fernando, student

Research Practice Experience (RPE)

You will develop your research delivery skills through RPE modules where you are supported and supervised by a senior researcher, who will provide shadowing opportunities for you to learn.

You'll gain hands-on experience, allowing you to take responsibility for specific areas of clinical research delivery.

Watch this video of a learner and supervisor discussing the Postgraduate Certificate Research Practice Experience module to understand more about what is involved.

"In terms of practicality, having that [Research Practice Experience module] supervisor who takes an active part in your research activities on a weekly, daily or monthly basis, is very important and balances out [the online nature of the theoretical modules]."

Trish Tsuro, former student

To find out more about the different RPE modules offered by each university, please visit their websites or contact them directly.

Who are the qualifications for?

All the qualifications are aimed at experienced healthcare practitioners from all professional backgrounds who aspire to take on leadership roles in clinical research delivery, such as Co-Investigator or Principal Investigator.

This includes those who have little or no research experience and those currently working in research delivery.

How long do the qualifications take to complete?

The part time courses are designed for learners with busy work schedules. 

As a guide:

  • courses start in September/October and each qualification will take about 10 months to complete
  • it takes three years to get the full Master's degree if you start at Postgraduate Certificate level
  • you will need to study for 10-15 hours each week for a 15 credit module. However, this will vary throughout the courses.  Each qualification consists of 60 credits, which is approximately 600 hours
  • you will also spend time on workplace-based tasks in the RPE modules

Course funding 

How much do the qualifications cost?

The cost of the courses vary, depending on the course and the university. You’ll find all the details of these on each of the university websites, see links above.


Bursary applications are now open for the academic year 2024/25 to cover your course fees.

Find out who is eligible for bursaries, how to apply and explore other funding options on our course funding page.

Employer information

Evidence shows that clinically research-active organisations have better patient care outcomes, a happier workforce and benefit the health and care system overall. Find out more about the benefits of being active in research:

It's also important for organisations to prove that they take part in appropriate research projects as this is included in the Care Quality Commission’s Well-led sources of evidence for healthcare providers.

Find out more about how you can support staff with these qualifications on the Course funding and employer information page: Information for employers

More information

Register for updates about the Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework

Frequently asked questions

Information for employers


For general enquiries, please email: 

For course-specific queries, please email the relevant university: