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Introduction to clinical leadership

This 25-hour course is aimed at doctors, nurses or allied health professionals working within the health service at various stages in their careers. The course reviews the challenges faced by clinicians following recent developments in health service policy. You will review the implications that these developments have on the kind of clinical leadership that is required in order to improve quality and effectiveness. By completing a work-based activity in which you analyse the kinds of leadership required of you, you will then focus on priorities for your future development as a clinical leader.

The course covers material at postgraduate level. 

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code
This is a non-credit bearing course.
Study method
Distance Learning
Short course cost
See Registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

The course introduces you to established and newer aspects of what it means to act with leadership as a clinician working in contemporary health services. It covers:

  • developing your sense of authority and your role in clinical decision-making
  • contributing to improving the performance of the clinical team you work within
  • Identifying and contributing to improvement initiatives across boundaries with other clinical teams.

The course emphasises the role of clinicians in improving service quality by taking greater responsibility for both service quality and the effective use of resources. It guides you through a process of identifying where you want to develop your clinical leadership skills and your contribution to service improvement. The emphasis is on leadership for the practising clinician.

The course is a self-contained introduction to practical leadership for clinicians, but is also the first in a series of short courses on various aspects of clinical leadership. It is a good preparation for deciding which further courses you wish to study. The course is based around a number of sessions of online study. These include learning materials in a variety of formats including articles, case studies, and audio interviews of clinicians within the NHS describing how they are involved in service improvement. While studying the course you will be supported by a learning adviser. By the end of the course, you will have completed an analysis of your priorities for developing yourself as a clinical leader. You will submit this to your learning adviser for feedback, and so obtain a Certificate of Completion for your CPD record.

You will learn

On completing the course you will be able to:

  • understand the impact that recent developments in health service policy have on service quality improvement and the implications for different kinds of clinicians
  • distinguish and analyse ways in which clinicians may be expected to provide leadership relevant to improving service quality in different contexts
  • identify areas of clinical leadership that will be relevant to your current role and anticipated career development, and formulate priorities for your development.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you direct within 24 hours. Other support is available via the course forum, library, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.

Work-based activity

The work-based activity for this course has been designed as an integrated ongoing activity that you submit at the end of your study. It will enable you to reflect on your learning and apply it to your professional work.

Outside the UK

This course has been written primarily for a UK context, but will have relevance to other contexts.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations, which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    Although there are no formal academic requirements to study any of our CPD courses, you are expected to have some experience in the field and the course assumes a familiarity with the subject.

    This course has been developed in conjunction with BMJ Learning. If you register for this course, they would like to contact you about further learning opportunities. If you do not want to receive information from BMJ, please mark the relevant opt-out box on your registration agreement.

    You can register and begin at any time during the life of the course. You can study at your own pace and submit your work-based activity at any date before the final submission date for the course.

    Please note that depending on when you register, you will have at least 6 months to submit your work based activity. Information about your final submission date is available when you register for the course. If you feel 6 months may not be sufficient time for your study and submission, please contact us to discuss your study options, including current final submission date before you register.


    Start End England fee Register
    At anytime Flexible - see Entry requirements for more detail £295.00 Register

    Ways to pay

    Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

    Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

    The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2019/20 academic year. Fees for short courses starting in the 2020/21 academic year or later may increase in line with the University’s strategic approach to fees.

    What's included

    All learning materials, exercises, and study support are delivered entirely online, as is the work-based activity.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs. If you are a new learner with the OU, make sure that you look at our website.