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Clinical Trials by Distance Learning (Certificate, Diploma and MSc)


These courses provide students with a theoretical and practical understanding of the issues involved in the design, conduct, analysis and interpretation of randomised controlled trials of health interventions. They are suitable for students working in high-, middle- and low-income countries.

The need for rigorous evaluation of components of health care is increasingly recognised worldwide. An important type of evaluation is the randomised controlled clinical trial. These courses will give students an understanding of trials which will equip them to work in this increasingly important field.

They are suitable both for those wishing to gain an overall understanding of trials before moving into the field, and those who have general or specialist experience in clinical trials and aim to broaden their role in the design, management, analysis and reporting of clinical trials in high, middle and low income countries.

Course You study Study period
Master's 11 modules 2-5 years
Postgraduate Diploma 8 modules 2-5 years
Postgraduate Certificate 4 modules 1-5 years
Individual modules Studying individual modules is an ideal option if you wish to update your professional knowledge or sample the programme.
 Key dates
Application deadline for all courses (incl. individual modules) 31 October
Registration deadline for PG Cert, PG Dip and MSc 30 November
Registration deadline for individual modules 30 November
Start of the course October
Examinations (take place the following year after  registration) June



School alumna Mariana Grings talks about her experience studying for the MSc Clinical Trials by distance learning, and how her studies have helped her job at a clinical research organisation.

I have no doubt the knowledge acquired during my studies will build the foundation for my future career in research and will open doors for even more learning opportunities.
Julien Nyombayire, Rwanda


Course objectives

Students will develop:

  • a theoretical and practical understanding of the issues involved in the design, conduct, analysis and interpretation of randomised controlled trials of health interventions.
  • skills to scrutinize information, to critically analyse and carry out research, and to communicate effectively.

Method of assessment

Assessment varies from module to module but will include a combination of unseen written papers and written assignments. Details are given in the module specifications.

Examinations take place once a year in June (please note: it is not possible to hold examinations at other times of year). These are normally held in a student’s country of residence. Details of available examination centres

They are arranged mainly through Ministries of Education or the British Council. Students taking distance learning examinations will need to pay a fee to their local examination centre. Please note that if you fail an examination at the first entry you will be allowed one further attempt, if you have failed the module overall.


Course structure

  • Postgraduate Certificate: 4 core modules
  • Postgraduate Diploma: 8 (4 core + 4 elective modules)
  • MSc: 11 modules (4 compulsory core, 5 elective plus two compulsory modules)

Note: for MSc and Postgraduate Diploma Clinical Trials, for the elective modules, at least three modules must be taken from selection group CTM2. The remaining module(s) can be chosen from other CTM2 modules, or selection groups EPM3, IDM2, IDM3, IDM5 or PHM2 selection groups.

Module selection

Postgraduate Certificate

The Certificate comprises the 4 core modules which are also common to the Diploma and MSc courses:  

After successfully completing the core modules, those registered for the Postgraduate Diploma and MSc must successfully pass a required number of elective modules to complete the award.

Postgraduate Diploma

To complete the Postgraduate Diploma, 4 elective modules (in addition to the four core modules) must be studied. At least 3 of these must be chosen from the Clinical Trials (CTM2) module list below. The remaining module(s) can be chosen from other CTM2 modules, or selection groups EPM3, IDM2, IDM3, IDM5 or PHM2. In addition, a final compulsory module (CTM201) and the integrating module (CTM210) must also be completed.

Master's Degree (MSc)

To complete the MSc, 5 elective modules from the lists below must be selected (in addition to the four core modules). At least 3 of these must be chosen from the Clinical Trials (CTM2) module list below. The remaining module(s) can be chosen from other CTM2 modules, or selection groups EPM3/PHM2. In addition, a final compulsory module and the integrating module must also be completed.

Clinical Trials elective modules (CTM2):

Integrating Module (compulsory)

All students on the MSc course will be required to complete an integrating module comprising a written report, usually in their final year of study.  Please click here for the module specification.

Credit awarded

Credits awarded Credits will be awarded to all modules (15 credits each) and (MSc only) the integrating module (30 credits) successfully completed. To successfully pass an award the following credits must be gained: 

  • Postgraduate Certificate – 60 credits 
  • Postgraduate Diploma – 120 credits 
  • Master's – 180 credits

How you study

Study materials

The majority of the Clinical Trials module study materials are delivered online after course/module registration. You will receive details of how to use the online learning environment effectively. Study materials provided for non-Clinical Trials modules may include study guides, textbooks, CD-ROMs/additional computer software (e.g. Stata). You will have access to past examination papers and Examiners' reports, Student Handbooks, and to the School's online library resources. We also provide all students with a student registration card.

Flexible study

We know that if you have a full-time job, family or other commitments, and wish to study at a distance, you will have many calls on your time. The course allows you to study independently, at a time and pace that suits you (subject to some course-specific deadlines) using the comprehensive study materials provided, with support available from academic staff. You have between 1-5 years in which to complete the Postgraduate Certificate, and between 2-5 years in which to complete the Postgraduate Diploma or the MSc. 

Once registered, you will be sent the learning materials for the module(s) you have chosen to study. Clinical Trials module materials are mostly delivered online. These materials will take you through a programme of directed self-study, and indicate how and where you can obtain supplementary study materials and access tutorial support to enhance your studies.

The study year runs from the beginning of October through to the June exams, during which time tutorial support is available. Students carrying out projects are assigned personal supervisors to support their project work throughout the summer.

Those writing the Clinical Trials integrating report will also continue to have tutorial support over the summer. Deadlines for submission of coursework vary per course but are usually in March, May, August and September.

Blended learning: taking modules in London

After successful completion of a minimum number of core modules, Postgraduate Diploma and MSc students may also be eligible for the 'blended learning option', which allows for the study of up to two modules only (from a restricted list) at the School in London during the Spring or Summer terms in place of distance learning modules. Please note that these options, and the dates when the modules are held at the School, are subject to change - full details will be sent to all distance learning students in July each year.


  • a web-based learning environment (including web conferencing, allowing you to engage in academic discussions with tutors and fellow students)
  • personalised feedback from teaching staff and advice on assignments
  • tutors are allocated to each module and are available to answer queries and promote discussion during the study year, through the online Virtual Learning Environment
  • communicate with other distance learning students, either individually or through learning support groups

Fees and funding


The fees below refer to the 2016-17 academic year only and are effective from 1 March 2016 until 30 November 2016. Fees are subject to annual review and may be paid in one of two ways:

Either: on initial registration, a single payment covering the course registration fee and all module fees
Master's £12,360
Postgraduate Diploma £9,750
Postgraduate Certificate £7,200
Or: pay the initial course registration fee, plus the fee for each module you are taking in the first year. Then, in subsequent years, you pay the fee for each new module you take.
Initial registration fee £1,155
Fee per core module £1,515
Fee per elective module £650
Fee for integrating module £1,300
Individual modules (taken on a stand-alone basis with no registration fee)
Fee per core module £1,800
Fee per elective module £1,800

When to pay

Fees may be paid in one of two ways:

Either, pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment. This covers the registration fee and all module fees;

Or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the registration fee plus the fee for each module you want to take in the first year, and then in subsequent years pay the fee for each new module you take.

How to pay

All fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP) directly to the University of London. The University of London accepts:

  • Western Union - Quick Pay
  • Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB)
  • Sterling banker's draft/cheque
  • International money/postal order 

Further details are given on the University of London website

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University of London, you should also budget for the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.

Entry requirements

Academic Requirements

All applicants are required to have:

  • either a first or second class honours degree, or the equivalent, from a university or other institution acceptable to the University of London, in a subject appropriate to the course; or
  • an appropriate professional or technical qualification, together with at least three years’ relevant experience, which satisfies the University as a qualification equivalent to a second class honours degree. All applications in this category will be considered on an individual basis

Qualifications from around the world are accepted; for further guidance please see the School's qualifications for entrance. Students who do not satisfy the entrance requirements may still be admitted at the discretion of the School on the basis of their academic qualifications, work experience and references.

English Language Requirements

Applicants may be required to pass or to have passed within the last three years, at the appropriate level, a test of proficiency in English acceptable to the University:

The Princeton Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

  • Paper-based Test: a minimum overall score of at 600 and a minimum of 5.0 in the test of written English
  • Computer-based Test: a minimum overall score of at least 250 and a minimum of 5.0 in the test of written English
  • Internet-based Test: a minimum overall score of at least 100 and a minimum of 5.0 in the test of written English

The British Council Test (IELTS)

  • A minimum overall score of 7.0 and a minimum of 7.0 in the written component

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification:

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader

Some of the CD-ROMs and software provided for use with Epidemiology modules may not be fully compatible with Apple Mac computers.

*Full mobile access is not available for all programmes

How to apply

Application for study by Distance Learning

The School's distance learning courses are run in collaboration with the University of London International Programmes. For the distance learning courses applications must be made online to the University of London International Programmes.

Need help with completing your application online? Please check the "How to Apply" section of the University of London website.

If you have any enquiries, please submit your questions online to the University of London  International Programmes. Alternatively, please contact:

The Information Centre, University of London, Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, London, 
WC1B 5DN, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7862 8360/8361/8362
Fax: +44 (0)20 7862 8358

Admission status


Course Directors

  • Claire Snowdon
  • Diana Elbourne
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