Patients, Citizens & the Politics of Evidence


Examining the role of patients and citizens in providing evidence for health care research

This module aims to help you appreciate the complexities of 'patient', 'citizen' or 'user' involvement. Health care providers and researchers are increasingly expected to include the perspective of patients and citizens. But what role is the patient or ‘ordinary citizen’ expected to play in the process of generating and applying evidence? What is the nature of the expertise they bring? Who (if anyone) do such individuals represent, and whose voices might go unheard? Increasingly, policy is expected to be evidence-based, and health care providers are expected to demonstrate use of (often very specific kinds of) evidence to support their decision-making. But what counts as evidence – and who decides? 

As global communications invite public comment on issues ranging from vaccination to globalisation, what role do different kinds of knowledge, expertise and power play in the generation of evidence and its application? Finally, in the context of a shift towards a molecular and genetic basis for many medical treatments, the module will address the multiple meanings of the terms ‘patient/person-centred’ and ‘personalised’ medicine.

The last date for receipt of complete applications is 5pm Friday 14th February 2025. Regrettably, late applications cannot be accepted.

Course Aims

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

  • Summarise the evidence base for patient and citizen involvement and engagement in the generation and use of health research evidence

  • Address the topic of patient and citizen involvement from a critical social science perspective giving consideration to the actors involved and their respective interests

  • Critically evaluate the concepts of evidence and expertise in relation to health care and research, applying key theories and models to real examples

Research methods and techniques taught in this module:

  • In-depth semi-structured and narrative interviews

  • Focus groups

  • Participatory research

    Examples of case studies to be discussed in this module:

  • Involving patients and citizens in biobank governance

  • “We the people”: how citizen involvement in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals plays out differently in different cultural and political settings

  • The PARADIGM project: an initiative to improve patient and lay involvement in the development and testing of new drugs (especially industry-led clinical trials)

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 £3175.00
Students enrolled on MSc in Translational Health Science £2570.00


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.


Dr Natassia Brenman

Co-Module Coordinator

Dr Natassia Brenman is a senior researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Oxford.

Dr Teresa Finlay

Co-Module Coordinator

Dr Teresa Finlay is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Oxford.

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.



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.