• University of Leeds
  • NHS National Institute for Health Research logo

Improving Healthcare Through Clinical Research

On this free online course, find out how medical treatments are discovered, tested and evaluated to improve healthcare for all.

48,919 enrolled on this course

A graphic with the words: ethics, discovery, patients and research
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours
  • Accreditation

    AvailableMore info

Everything we do in healthcare has to be discovered and thoroughly tested before it can be put into practice. In this course you will explore clinical research – its challenges and its huge benefits to modern healthcare. You will work through case studies and examine how research contributes to the treatment of major diseases, such as cancer and dementia, examining the process of conducting research and the ethical questions raised. You will learn how members of a research team, academics and participants in clinical research all contribute to this process of discovery.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds We’ve all come to expect a lot of modern health care and medicine in the 21st century. But how can we be sure that all these treatments actually work? That they’re safe and reliable. And how are new treatments developed in the first place? The answer to all of those questions are simple. Research. Everything we do in healthcare, every tablet that is prescribed, every treatment that is given, every aspect of the care that makes modern medicine so remarkable; has first to be discovered. And then thoroughly evaluated before it can be out into practise. This discovery and evaluation is done in a variety of ways, which collectively we call research.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds This free online course is all about that process of discovery, and how it is used to improve healthcare. Together we look in detail at why we do research and how we do it. We’ll focus on the important ethical questions raised by research, and we’ll take a look into the future. Over the four weeks of this course, we’ll meet a wide variety of people who play a key role in research. We’ll learn how they all make invaluable contributions to this process of discovery. And by the end, we will have a much better understanding of not only the challenges of conducting research, but also the enormous benefits that it can offer modern medicine.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 seconds The course is aimed at everyone who wants to know more about modern health care and the role of research and discovery within it. It may be of special interest to senior pupils at school who are contemplating a career in healthcare, as well as those already working in those fields, and who would like to learned more about the research that’s happening around them. I very much hope you’ll join me on this course and I look forward to sharing this fascinating subject with you.

What topics will you cover?

  • The fundamental principles of the scientific process, and their importance in ensuring that clinical research delivers accurate information and answers.
  • The origins of clinical trials, and how an understanding of how to conduct clinical research has developed over time.
  • How modern clinical trials are conducted, the importance of minimising bias, and the role of techniques such as randomisation and control, and placebos and blinding.
  • The impact of the digital revolution and big data on how clinical trials are conducted, and the opportunities and challenges these present.
  • The importance of ensuring that clinical research is ethical and the key principles that are essential to ensuring that clinical trials are set up and conducted in an ethically sound manner.
  • The role that respect has to play in clinical research and how we can ensure that research is carried out in a way that is respectful to participants.
  • How clinical research is regulated in the United Kingdom and internationally.
  • The importance of informed consent, the key concepts associated with gaining valid consent from research participants, and the process for gaining informed consent.
  • How the results of research are put into practice. How the results of research are reported and communicated to the wider world, and the importance of analysing critically media reporting of clinical research.
  • The ways in which clinical research is funded.
  • Future directions, opportunities and challenges for clinical research.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

This course has been accredited by the CPD Certification Service, which means it can be used to provide evidence of your continuing professional development.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on what modern healthcare would look like without the benefit of past clinical research, and evaluate the state of future healthcare should there be a lack of further research.
  • Summarise roles within a clinical research team and identify the role of the patient in the process.
  • Explain the importance of reducing the possibility of bias when designing a clinical trial, and identify techniques which are designed to help do this.
  • Evaluate the rules, regulations and best practices involved in clinical research, and explain the three aims all researchers must consider within their work.
  • Identify the meaning of ‘respect’ within the context of clinical research.
  • Summarise the role of research ethics committees, and explain how their work is conducted.
  • Explore the process of how research is put into practice, and reflect on historical and present day approaches.
  • Evaluate the impact of the media in published research, and interpret media headlines by discussing examples.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone who wants to know more about modern healthcare, and the role of clinical research and discovery within it.

It will be of special interest to: students at school or college; undergraduates or postgraduates who are contemplating a career in healthcare or the life sciences; and health and social care professionals and practitioners who want to find out more about the role of clinical research in improving healthcare.

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. By completing the course you will have achieved 16 hours of CPD time.

No previous knowledge is needed to take this course.

Who will you learn with?

I support learning & development for our research delivery teams. We work across education, research & clinical practice to deliver safe & ethical clinical research to make patients & the NHS better.

- MD, PhD
- Worked in clinical research for 30 years.
- Find out more about me and my work at www.allangaw.com and follow my research education and training blog at https://researchet.wordpress.com

Who developed the course?

University of Leeds

As one of the UK’s largest research-based universities, the University of Leeds is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and a centre of excellence for teaching.

National Institute for Health Research

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded through the Department of Health and Social Care to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLclinical to talk about this course on social media.