Improving Healthcare through Clinical Research

Improving Healthcare through Clinical Research – Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

Enabling understanding of clinical research and its role in improving healthcare is a core objective in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN). In 2015 we partnered with the Digital Learning team at Leeds University to develop a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called Improving Healthcare through Clinical Research. 

Watch the NIHR TV Youtube trailer video

You can sign up for this learning at:

This course has been certified by The CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. By completing the course you will have achieved 16 hours of CPD time.

Why a MOOC?

MOOCs have become popular over the last few years as a way of delivering learning open to anyone who has an internet connection. Courses are deliberately designed to provide a flexible learning environment so that learners can study at their own pace and connect with other learners and educators should they wish to do so. The MOOC model provided an ideal platform to achieve our goal of reaching a wide community of learners and to provide engaging and interesting content pitched at an introductory level.

What will learners study in the MOOC?

The course is built around the concept of discovery and the ethical and scientific principles that inform every aspect of the process of developing new treatments in healthcare. Short videos involving different members of research teams, patients and educators, complemented by activities and opportunities for further reading provided the content. The course is designed to provide around 4 hours of learning a week. Over a 4 week period, learners are able to follow the process of scientific discovery from a number of perspectives.

Week 1: focuses on the question of why we do research and included many examples of how research has transformed healthcare.

Week 2: includes a more in-depth look at how research is done in the the NHS, including the contribution of different members of the research team.

Week 3: introduces the ethical principles that govern research and the important notion of respect and what this means for patients and the public.

Week 4: explores the fruits of research, looking at what happens to the results of research and introducing some of the important changes influencing the research landscape, including Big Data and the development of personalised medicine.


Feedback from previous learners:

"I already take part in clinical projects and research activities. This course has reinforced many things that I knew, but it has clarified many more aspects of clinical research that I thought I understood but didn’t" (Patient and Public Involvement Representative)

"Super course that I’d readily recommend to clinical and lay associates" (Patient and Public Involvement Representative)

"Relatively new to research nurse post, so finding it very helpful and informative" (Research Nurse)

"I am now better informed and have an improved depth of knowledge about trails probably occurring in the hospital where I have worked for many decades" (Biomedical Scientist)

"Thanks for another fascinating week… As ever the course materials were concise but got their point across effectively" (Learner)

"As a teenager with a very little amount of experience, this information was incredibly interesting and has definitely cleared up some of my previous misunderstandings. I eagerly look forward to widening my knowledge of how clinical research is conducted" (Young Learner)

"I’ve been working in clinical research for many years and I’ve never really paused to think about the history of clinical trials. This course is refreshing." (Biomedical Scientist)


View the MOOC trailer

Watch the MOOC patient highlights video

View the MOOC Infographic