Healthcare Quality Improvement PgCert

Course code B9HQ

What is special about this course?

Are you interested in influencing or effecting changes that will lead to better outcomes for patients or users of health and social care services? Do you wish to encourage quality improvement across your organisation? If you would like to be a future quality improvement leader then this PgCert Healthcare Quality Improvement will be of interest to you.

There is increasing interest across the world in innovative approaches to improving quality, and reducing waste, harm and variation in both the public and private sector. Despite a decrease in mortality from cancer, heart disease and stroke, and an associated increased life expectancy, there is a growing demand for health and social care services. There is therefore an urgent need to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health and social care services to ensure they meet the current and predicted future needs of the population.

This programme will give you the opportunity to learn quality improvement methods and approaches. You will combine the practical application of several quality improvement methods, including the Model for Improvement, Lean, and Patient Safety approaches, with a deep theoretical understanding that can be applied to a wide range of health and social care contexts. The course includes an emphasis on the critical analysis of improvement methods and the use of quality improvement tools and techniques, to address waste, harm and variation in the health and social care system. It also reviews person-centred quality care including principles, key drivers and the impact of human interactions on adverse events.

The course is open to a wide range of individuals including nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, care workers, health care scientists, health care managers and administrators, facilities and estates staff. It is also suitable for people working in health and social care settings in charities or the independent sector, and who have an interest in, or responsibility for, quality improvement.

Special features

  • 100% overall student satisfaction (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2021 and 2022)
  • The course is delivered part time, online, which means you can fit your studies around your work and personal commitments
  • Developed and taught in collaboration with a team of healthcare professionals, academic and industry experts
  • You will develop a toolbox of techniques that can be applied to a wide range of health and social care contexts
  • You will have the opportunity to meet fellow students and tutors by attending the online virtual induction, usually held early September. This is a half day event, and we strongly recommend that all new students attend
  • You can study individual modules for personal or professional development, or work towards the full PgCert
  • Successful completion of this programme will allow you to progress on to our MA Health and Wellbeing.
  • Staff teaching on the programme won the UHI HISA Award for Best Online Tutor in 2019 (and were Highly Recommended in 2020)

Entry requirements

  • 2:1 honours degree, or equivalent, OR
  • Postgraduate diploma award or a professional qualification recognised as being equivalent to an honours degree
  • Applicants with a 2:2 honours degree or below, an ordinary degree or DipHE in a relevant subject, plus relevant professional experience may also be considered through successful completion of the admissions essay.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and/or Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) may also be claimed
  • All students should be in employment and/or engaged in voluntary activities


You will study the following modules:

  • Introduction to Lean quality improvement in health and social care (S1)
    • Lean is a quality improvement approach that developed in industry and is now widely used in service industries and in health care. This module aims to increase your job competencies and develop professional potential by improving skills and understanding of Lean methods in quality improvement. You will also develop your knowledge of quality improvement definitions and principles, as well as key policy drivers, and the impact that management and supervisory practices have on the conduct of quality improvement.
  • Improvement science: enhancing quality in health and social care (S2)
    • This module aims to contribute to the development of a cadre of effective improvement leaders who focus on the centrality of person-centredness to quality care; essential within the broad health and social care professions. It includes review of the application of the Model for Improvement in health care environments.
  • Introduction to patient safety in integrated health and social care environments (S1)
    • This module aims to increase your job competencies and develop professional potential by improving skills and understanding in patient safety. You will also develop your knowledge of patient safety definition and principles as well as key policy drivers and the impact human interactions have on the reduction of adverse events.

How will I study my course?

  • Part-time (unstructured)
  • Your lectures, tutorials and other materials will be accessible via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE). Online seminars will be arranged for set times
  • You will receive regular support from your tutors and peers through online discussions and email. Telephone support can be available by arrangement
  • Modules are normally studied in order, one per semester, taking 18 months to complete the award of PgCert Healthcare Quality Improvement
  • Assessment is varied and includes discussion board contributions and reflections, case study assignments and reports

How long will my course last?

  • Part-time (unstructured): 18 months

Where can I study my course?

  • North, West and Hebrides
  • This is a fully online course. You will be enrolled and supported by staff at UHI North, West and Hebrides

Start date

  • September
  • January


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes

  • EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK,
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.
  2023-24 2024-25
Per module (20 credits) £584 £584
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £1,752 £1,752

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland) studying online from home, or assessed as rest of the UK for fee status, the following fees apply:

  2023-24 2024-25
Per module (20 credits) £720 £780
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £2,160 £2,340

EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the Scottish Government confirmed that EU/EEA and Swiss nationals, who do not have settled or pre-settled status, will be considered as international for fee purposes. These students will get an automatic fee scholarship.

This includes EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

  2023-24 With scholarship 2024-25 With scholarship
Per module (20 credits) £1,080 £810 £1,110 £833
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £3,240 £2,430 £3,330 £2,499

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK or European Union, studying online from their home country, or assessed as international for fee status, the following fees apply:

  2023-24 2024-25
Per module (20 credits) £1,080 £1,110
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £3,240 £3,330

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

This course is not available for international students requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.

A no fee increase guarantee is available for self-funding full-time and structured part-time rest of the UK, EU and international postgraduate students for continuous study for the same award, up to the permitted standard time limit for the relevant award.


UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Successful completion of the PgCert Healthcare Quality Improvement will lead to enhanced employment opportunities.

Can I progress into further study?

Successful students may wish to progress on to a masters level qualification such as our MA Health and Wellbeing.

Is there more information available online?

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This post graduate certificate offered me the opportunity to learn the different quality improvement methods and approaches and how they can be applied to improve services. Part time learning with discussion boards and seminars allowed for group exploration of the subjects while working around full time employment. The three tutors were very different in approach and style but were all experts in relating theory to practice. Each tutor took the time to understand the professional background of each student, tailoring the teaching style and approach to the student group. Having been away from formal study for almost 20 years and online learning appearing outwardly to be so isolating, UHI immediately welcomed me as a mature student. My queries and concerns were answered and while the course was a huge undertaking it has opened up a world of learning, possibilities and contacts for me.

Sara Perry graduated from our PgCert Healthcare Quality Improvement.

Undertaking the PgCert in Healthcare Quality Improvement has not only given me a greater awareness of QI methodology, but also the confidence to apply it effectively within my working environment. The course offered me the opportunity to build on my existing knowledge and develop the practical skills I lacked, to fully undertake project implementation and reporting.

We used a supported online learning platform which was easy to navigate, and the module structure allowed for flexibility around work and life commitments. The discussion board contributions felt daunting at first but proved to be productive, insightful and a really good resource for gauging your own knowledge base. 

I found the reflective work helpful in underpinning my understanding of the topic. Carrying out the assignments and QI projects within the workplace was very satisfying, as we could then see how the changes led to improvements. I would recommend this course to anyone who has an interest, or is involved in, quality improvement work: you won’t regret it and you will make a difference.

Angela McKell graduated from our PgCert Healthcare Quality Improvement.

The experience I gained on the course was invaluable: not only did it provide detailed information on the methodology of quality improvement, it also gave us the rare opportunity to discuss ideas and opinions with our peers and lecturers.

The experience has made me more considered and reflective in my work: I find myself questioning and seeking information and alternative views more regularly to gain greater insight. My confidence has grown and it's rewarding to see the improvements reflected in my work environment.

Sue Menzie works in quality improvement and completed the online PgCert Healthcare Quality Improvement with the support of staff at UHI Outer Hebrides.

Apply for Healthcare Quality Improvement PgCert

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2024 or Jan/Feb 2025

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.