Health Organisations and Policy


Innovation in relation to health care organisations and policymaking

In recent years, policymakers in the UK and beyond have sought to harness the health care sector as a site of research and a source of innovation. Yet the process of innovation in health care organisations is rarely straightforward. Few such organisations are optimally designed to support innovation – they can be too hierarchical or lack resources, infrastructure or leadership. Technology projects in particular almost invariably cut across multiple organisations, sectors and stakeholders, adding to the complexity and risks involved in implementation.

Far from being a rational, predictable and evidence-based science, policymaking is a complex art made largely of rhetoric. Metaphors for policymaking include social drama, contact sport and ‘the authoritative exposition of values’ (attributed to Rudolf Klein). Furthermore, policymaking operates on a timescale (days, weeks or months) that meshes poorly with the timescale of research and innovation (years and even decades). Policymakers work with finite budgets, but expectations and demand for health care innovations are increasing apace.

This module will introduce key principles, theories and methods which underpin the study of health care organisations and health care policymaking. You will have the chance to work through real-world examples of efforts to innovate in the health care sector.

The last date for receipt of complete applications is 5pm Friday 24th May 2024. Regrettably, late applications cannot be accepted.

Course Aims

On completion of this module we expect our students to be able to:

  • Give a critical account of the multiple interacting influences at organisational and policy level that may affect the fortunes of a health care innovation

  • Using a specific worked example, identify how these different influences play out (or are likely to play out), and propose measures to maximise the success of the project

  • Analyse the innovative potential of a health care organisation or policy context, and suggest measures to make this context more supportive of entrepreneurs

Research methods and techniques taught in this module:

  • Organisational ethnography and case study

  • Interpretive policy analysis

Examples of case studies to be discussed in this module:

  • National e-health programmes – do policymakers learn from their own history or from examples elsewhere?

  • Accelerated access initiative for new technologies

Programme details

The first weeks of this module is spent working on introductory activities using a Virtual Learning Environment, a week is then spent in Oxford for face-to-face teaching and group work (this takes place on the dates to be confirmed), there are then a series of extended Post-Oxford activities (delivered through the VLE) over the following 4-6 weeks which are designed to support you in the preparation and delivery of the practical elements of your assignment. You will be required to submit your written assignment electronically (usually on a Tuesday at 14:00 UK Local Time).


Description Costs
Short Course in Health Sciences £2890.00
Students enrolled on MSc in Translational Health Science £2340.00


Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our financial assistance page.


If you are an employee of the University of Oxford and have a valid University staff card you may be eligible to receive a 10% discount on the full stand-alone fee. To take advantage of this offer please submit a scan/photocopy of your staff card along with your application. Your card should be valid for a further six months after attending the course.


Prof Trish Greenhalgh

(Programme Director)

Trish Greenhalgh is Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences. Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Research in Health Sciences unit and a practising GP.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be based on performance in a group presentation and submission of a written assignment which should not exceed 4,000 words.

Academic Credit

Applicants may take this course for academic credit. The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for this course. Participants attending at least 80% of the taught course and successfully completing assessed assignments are eligible to earn credit equivalent to 20 CATS points which may be counted towards a postgraduate qualification.

Applicants can choose not to take the course for academic credit and will therefore not be eligible to undertake the academic assignment offered to students taking the course for credit. Applicants cannot receive CATS (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme) points or equivalence. Credit cannot be attributed retrospectively. CATS accreditation is required if you wish for the course to count towards a further qualification in the future.

A Certificate of Completion is issued at the end of the course.

Applicants registered to attend ‘not for credit’ who subsequently wish to register for academic credit and complete the assignment are required to submit additional information, which must be received one calendar month in advance of the course start date. Please contact us for more details.

Please contact if you have any questions.


This course requires you to complete the application form and to attach a copy of your CV. If you are applying to take this course for academic credit you will also be required to provide a reference. Please note that if you are not applying to take the course for academic credit then you do not need to submit a reference.

Please ensure you read the guidance notes which appear when you click on the symbols as you progress through the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application.

Selection criteria

Admissions Criteria:
To apply for the course you should:

  • Be a graduate or have successfully completed a professional training course
  • Have professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field
  • Be able to combine intensive classroom learning with the application of the principles and practices of translational health sciences within the work place
  • Have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration)
  • Show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and an employer's commitment to make time available to study, complete course work and attend course and university events and modules.
  • Be able to demonstrate English Language proficiency at the University’s higher level


Accommodation is available at the Rewley House Residential Centre, within the Department for Continuing Education, in central Oxford. The comfortable, en-suite, study-bedrooms have been rated as 4-Star Campus accommodation under the Quality In Tourism scheme, and come with tea- and coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi access and Freeview TV. Guests can take advantage of the excellent dining facilities and common room bar, where they may relax and network with others on the programme.

IT requirements

Please ensure that you have access to a computer that meets the specifications detailed on our technical support page.