.Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework


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Master's level qualifications in clinical research delivery leadership

Suitable for all registered healthcare professionals at all stages of their career

Are you a healthcare professional looking to develop your research delivery skillset?

Are you an employer looking for new ways to develop the next generation of Research Delivery Leads?

Could you help to mentor colleagues to develop the research delivery leaders of the future?

If so, please read on.

Virtual event: Could you be a research delivery leader?

A virtual event will take place on 20 March 2024 from 12.30pm to 2.00pm where you can learn more about our Master's level research delivery leadership qualifications.

Further information, together with the event registration from can be found on the event home page.

What is the Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework?

The NIHR and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, led by the Royal College of Physicians worked with higher education institutions to create a national framework of Master’s level clinical research delivery leadership qualifications. These qualifications provide learners with the necessary skills and build the confidence required to be able to lead and support clinical research delivery. 

Please watch the video (1 minute 47 seconds) below for a brief introduction to the Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework. You can adjust the volume, or mute it, at the bottom left of the video. Subtitles are available, please select the closed captions button to bring them up.

NIHR - CRC Edit Shortened - MASTER New version.mp4

The  Framework focuses on the practical elements of clinical research delivery. Its courses consist of two key elements:

Qualifications and what's involved

There are three qualifications you can achieve.  

The Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma can be taken as individual qualifications. Or learners can achieve a full Master’s degree by successfully completing all the qualifications. 

The diagram below provides a simplified overview of the Framework. 

Diagram of the Framework

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 1 RPE module and, depending on the institution delivering the course, 2 or 3 online modules. 






Postgraduate Diploma

Learners who have achieved the Postgraduate Certificate can progress to the Postgraduate Diploma. Learners with equivalent qualifications or practitioners with relevant experience could start at Postgraduate Diploma  level. This should be discussed with the higher education institution where the learner wants to study.


The Postgraduate Diploma extends learners’ expertise and offers different opportunities for methodological specialisation at each higher education institution offering the qualification. Graduates may be able to act as Principal Investigators on a variety of research studies according to their clinical  expertise.  This qualification consists of 1 RPE module and 2 online modules.



Master’s Degree

Learners who have achieved the Postgraduate Diploma can progress to the Master’s level. Typically Master's graduates will be able to act as Principal Investigators on most studies, according to their clinical expertise.


This qualification consists of a dissertation based on a research project.

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 no or limited research experience and those currently working in research delivery. 

How much time do the qualifications take to complete?

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


The Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s degree each consist of 60 credits, equivalent to approximately 600 learning hours.  


At Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma level, the learner activities consist of supported online learning, dedicated sessions with experienced researchers, self-directed study and preparation and completion of assignments. 


Learners will spend approximately 50-100 hours in the Postgraduate Certificate and 70-150 hours in the Postgraduate Diploma undertaking the workplace-based tasks in the RPE module.  


At Master’s level, learners will complete a dissertation based on a research project. 


Each qualification will usually be completed over a period of 10 months, taking 3 years to obtain the full Master’s qualification. As a guide roughly, 10-15 hours of study are required each week for a 15 credit module, however the levels of work required will vary as the course progresses.


All courses run annually and start in September/October of each year.

How much will it cost?

The cost of the courses vary, depending on which course is selected and which institution you study with. Further information about the courses available is provided on the Course Information page, together with links to the higher education institution websites, which include details of the course fees.

For information about the funding available, please visit the Funding Sources page. 

How do I apply?

The entry requirements and course fees are set by the higher education institutions offering the courses. Applications are made directly to the institution you are interested in applying to.

Please visit the Course Information page for links to the higher education institution websites, which include details of the course fees, eligibility requirements and how to apply for the courses. 

How do I find out more?

Further information about the courses available is provided on the Course Information page, together with links to the higher education institution websites.


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

King's College London: clinical-research-delivery-masters@kcl.ac.uk

Newcastle University: epgclinres@ncl.ac.uk

The University of Exeter: PG-LCRDinfo@exeter.ac.uk 

The University of Sheffield: population-health-clinres@sheffield.ac.uk 


You can also visit the other pages listed at the bottom of this page.

Promotional Poster

If you would like to promote the Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework within your organisation, please print off and display this PDF poster

Image showing different types of clinicians