University of Chester

Programme Specification
Health Services Management MSc
2014 - 2015

Master of Science

Health Services Management

Health Services Management

University of Chester

University of Chester

  • Warrington

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 - 2 years

6 Years

Biannual - February - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Business and Management Warrington School of Management

  • QAA Benchmark statements for Masters's awards Business and Management
  • QAA Benchmark statements for Masters awards Health and Social Care Management

University of Chester

Postgraduate Programme Assessment Board

Wednesday 1st May 2013

The MSc is designed to reflect the expectation that candidates joining the award will have some suitable technical education and / or expertise. A key educational aim will be to further develop this knowledge and expertise and augment it with broader, business based management knowledge and skills. This has been a theme which has been supported by research for many years (for example see Kleinman, 2003) and reflects a broader professional practice based recognition that for those people who wish to progress a management career within a technical field or environment, ‘on the job’ managerial experience gained is insufficient to support their effectiveness and specific management education is required. 

It is envisaged that MSc graduates will use this qualification to enhance their management careers in this field.  The key educational elements therefore of the MSc will enable graduates to develop core and transferable business and management skills, while also enhancing specialist knowledge in their field. All modules will enable students to demonstrate an insight into the complexities of business and management and the potential value of theoretical frameworks. More specifically, business and management education will encompass each of the following, providing graduates a higher level insight to and broader knowledge and skills base of:·        

  • Strategic Financial management 
  • Strategic People management      
  • Managing Innovation       
  • Management Research Methods        
  • Management of Research Projects

In addition, more especially in Health Service and Social Care managerial practice, the educational aims of the MSc will enhance knowledge and skills in:       

  • Commissioning in a Health and Social Care context
  • Leadership Development and Managing Change.

The modular structure of the MSc reflects these educational aims.

Based on this, the learning outcomes for the MSc focus on developing the knowledge and skills of participants in business and management to apply this in the context of the industry / workplace and more specifically to:

  • Improve knowledge and understanding of core disciplines and concepts in business & management
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of more advanced concepts, ideas and theories of business & management
  • Further enhance technical knowledge and it's application in the contemporary organisation / workplace
  • Provide participants with the ability to think critically, argue coherently and make a convincing case to promote strategic leadership and informed & innovative decision making
  • Enhance the ability to operate effectively in an increasingly global and multicultural environment.

Knowledge and Understanding
Assess and evaluate the theoretical basis of financial strategic decision making.
Research and critically evaluate the methodological and theoretical approaches traditionally taken in generating insight into human behaviour at work and in promoting innovation in business.
Assess and explain the relational processes between person and organisation.
Assess and evaluate the theoretical basis of strategic human resource management.
Demonstrate a critical understanding of the various philosophical approaches to conducting research.
Discern how the role of the researcher differs when adhering to particular philosophical approaches and assess the implications for research design.
Identify a key area of managerial research and develop clear research aims and objectives providing cogency as to their rationale.
Critically evaluate the methodological and theoretical approaches previously taken in generating insight into the chosen area of investigation.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills
Critically assess the tools, techniques and frameworks available to IT Directors and Managers of large organisations.
Analyse and interpret data, and by the integration of theory and practice, investigate and apply relevant tools to the assessment of a variety of business problems.
Evaluate critically key innovation tools and approaches which enable organisations to develop and grow.
Evaluate and synthesise the problem solving mechanisms from strategic financial decision making and assess the value to enhanced decision making of the application of relevant tools and techniques.
Analyse and evaluate the approaches to the management of the human resource adopted in a range of organisations.
Assess critically the strengths and limitations associated with various approaches for gathering and analysing data and the implications for social research.
Develop an appropriate research design showing critical understanding as to its conceptual underpinning, methods utilised for gathering data and the analytical tools employed for interpreting the data, highlighting the implications as to the validity and generalisability of the findings generated.

Practical Skills
Demonstrate enhanced problem solving abilities by critically understanding methods of analysing and synthesising information appropriate to the context of contemporary marketing.
Analyse and apply the appropriate innovation strategy in business and management.
Formulate appropriate HRM responses to enable the organisation to better achieve its objectives.Critically analyse and evaluate the ethical impact of a range of business decisions upon the company and its stakeholders.
Formulate appropriate ethical business policies and strategies within a changing context.
Develop a clear and well-defined research proposal that establishes: clear research aims; academic and practioner relevance; methods for gathering and analysing data providing an evaluation of the proposed tools of enquiry; and a planned timetable for completion of the various stages of the study.

Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving
Masters programmes have twelve key skills identified by the QAA, using the letters a-l. They are:
a Critical thinking and creativity: managing creative processes in self and others; organising thoughts, analysis, synthesis, critical appraisal. This includes the capability to identify assumptions, evaluate statements in terms of evidence, detect false logic or reasoning, identify implicit values, define terms adequately and generalise appropriately.
b Problem solving and decision making: establishing criteria, using appropriate decision techniques including identifying, formulating and solving business problems; the ability to create, identify and evaluate options; the ability to implement and review decisions.
c Information and knowledge: scanning and organising data, abstracting meaning from information and sharing knowledge.
d Numeracy and quantitative skills including the use of models of business situations; qualitative research skills.
e Effective use of Communication and Information Technology (CIT).
f Two-way communication: listening, negotiating and persuading or influencing others; oral and written communication, using a range of media, including the preparation of business reports.
g Personal effectiveness: self-awareness and self-management; time management; sensitivity to diversity in people and different situations; the ability to continue learning.
h Effective performance within a team environment and the ability to recognise and utilise individuals' contributions in-group processes; team selection, delegation, development and management.
i Leadership and performance management: selecting appropriate leadership style for situations; setting targets, motivating, monitoring performance, coaching and mentoring, continuous improvement.
j Ethics and value management: recognising ethical situations, applying ethical and organisational values to situations and choices.
k Ability to conduct research into business and management issues.
l Learning through reflection on practice and experience.

Transferable Professional Skills
  • Demonstrating self-direction in both formal and informal learning environments.
  • Communicating effectively at both individual and organisational levels.
  • Being competent in the use of information technology.
  • Working autonomously and collaboratively, and leading a team.
  • Demonstrating higher literacy, critical appraisaland numeracy skills.
  • Inter-professional collaboration and partnership working.

Content has been selected to fit within the University Framework (Masters modules in multiples of 20 points), to utilise strong existing provision where available and to reflect a generic need for management capabilities. This will be complemented by and interlinked with the development of further progression specifically related to Health Service Management and Social Care professional and contemporary capabilities.

The programme consists of six (20 credit) taught modules and a (60 credit) Management Research Project, all at level 7 and existing (approved) modules.  The modules are:

  • Strategic Financial Management (BU7006), 20 Credit Points
  • Managing Innovation (BU7030), 20 Credit points
  • Strategic People Management (BU7007), 20 Credit Points
  • Management Research Methods (BU7002), 20 Credit Points
  • Management Research Project (BU7001), 60 Credit Points - There will be a substantial Health Services context to this project).
  • Leadership Development and Change (NM7012), 20 credit points - In Health & Social Care Management
  • Health & Social Care Commissioning (NM7008), 20 credits

The masters programme provides postgraduate study equivalent to and consistent with the standards of FEHQ level 7. Graduates “will develop an understanding of a complex body of knowledge, some of it at the current boundaries of an academic discipline”. Through this, a graduate will develop “analytical techniques and problem-solving skills that can be applied in many types of employment”. The graduate will be able to “evaluate evidence, arguments and assumptions, to reach sound judgements, and to communicate effectively”. A graduate should have the qualities needed for employment especially in situations requiring the exercise of “personal responsibility” and “decision-making in complex and unpredictable circumstances.” The programme outcomes have been distributed through all the modules so that upon successful completion of all the module-specific assessment tasks and activities, that each of the programme outcomes have been achieved by a student.

Prior to the Management Research Project, students are required to undertake the Management Research Methods module unless acquired or accrued within previous post graduate study within a total of 120 credits. For appropriate and suitably qualified candidates and for modules as above (excluding the Management Research Project), consideration may be given for Acreditiation of Prior Learning, through and by adhering to the University's APL processes and procedures (see section 30).

will be offered to those students who have amassed sufficient credits (60) and who  exit the programme prior to its normal completion.  A postgraduate Diploma in Management will be offered to those students who have amassed sufficient credits (120) and who exit the programme prior to its normal completion. 

Student Journey

Students may enter the award at one of two entry points, which are at the commencement of either the first or second semester. They may study full-time or part-time. The structure of their study is given within the diagram on the following page. Whilst the taught elements are not critical in terms of completion sequence, it is clear that student should complete tuition for all of the taught elements prior to the undertaking of their substantive research project. This is to ensure that the underpinning knowledge which may be required for the project has been delivered to the student prior to their commencement. At each entry point an agreed programme of induction is included, which will cover aspects including; studying at the University; academic skills, including use of the learning resources; programme structure and module briefing; pastoral support and arrangements; academic regulations; introduction to the VLE; introduction to programme tutors; administrative procedures, facilities and requirements. Some students may be admitted to the award with advanced standing, based upon their prior qualifications and/or experience. They should note this request at the point of application to the programme. The Course Team will consider all such applications for APECL (Accreditation of Prior Experience and/or Certificated Learning) in line with the guidance and regulations of the University, including credit exemption (which may not be used in award classification) or credit transfer (which may be used in award classification). Throughout the course of study students will be appropriately supported by the Course Team and associated University resources in line with their indicated roles and responsibilities, including the Personal Academic Tutor role, which may be allocated to a member of the Course Team as part of their overall responsibilities (e.g. the Course Leader).

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
BU7001 7 Management Research Project 60 Comp
BU7002 7 Management Research Methods 20 Comp
BU7007 7 Strategic People Management 20 Comp
BU7030 7 Managing Innovation 20 Comp
NM7008 7 Health and Social Care Commissioning 20 Comp
NM7012 7 Leadership Development and Change 20 Comp

All study occurs at level 7.
Modules BU7002 - 7007, BU7030, NM7008 and NM7012are worth 20 credits.
BU7001 Management Research Project is worth 60 credits.
Successful completion of the taught modules and the Management Research Project amasses 180 credits at level 7.
However, given completion of the taught modules only (i.e. excluding the research project) students who have successfully achieved at least 120 credits may be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Creative Industries Management as an exit award. Furthermore, students who successfully meet the learning requirements of modules totalling 60 credits have the option of accepting a Postgraduate Certificate in Management as an intermediate exit award, which would necessarily include Strategic People Management (BU7007) and Strategic Financial Management (BU7006).

The normal entry requirement for students is the possession of a second-class Honours degree in any discipline, or equivalent as a minimum.  All applicants will complete an application form and be invited to attend an informal interview where appropriate.  Candidates should also meet the University's requirements for English.  Applicants with non-standard qualifications will be considered for entry onto the programme.   

For appropriate and suitably qualified candidates and modules (excluding the management research project), consideration may be given for Acreditiation of Prior Learning (APL), through and by adhering to the University's APL processes and procedures. Any APL which the student brings in under the Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme points sytem will have to be cognate and congruent with the programme focus and mandatory study, and the level of study; plus acquired within the last 5 years.

The QAA Subject Benchmarks for Business and Management indicate that a graduate should possess knowledge and understanding in the following areas. These areas of knowledge and understanding are covered by and contained within the Business and Management modules across the programme, including areas a,b,c,g,h,i,and j, others are specifically mentioned as listed below.

a The impact of contextual forces on organisations including legal systems; ethical, economic, environmental, social and technological change issues; international developments; corporate governance.

b Markets and customers; the development and operation of markets for resources, goods and services; expectations of customers and equivalent stakeholders, service and orientation.

c The concepts, processes and institutions in the production and marketing of goods and/or services; the management of resources and operations.

d The financing of the business enterprise or other forms of organisations: sources, uses and management of finance; use of accounting for managerial and financial reporting applications (especially in Module BU7006)

e The management and development of people within organisations: organisational theory, behaviour, industrial/employee relations, HRM, change management (especially in Module BU7007).

f The uses and limitations of a range of research methods/techniques, both qualitative and quantitative, and an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses for providing information and evaluating options in an uncertain organisational environment (especially in BU7001 and 7002).

g The development, management and exploitation of information systems and their impact on organisations.

h The use of relevant communication and information technologies for application in business and management within a global knowledge-based economy.

i The development of appropriate business policies and strategies within a changing context to meet stakeholder interests.

j A range of contemporary and pervasive issues which may change over time. Illustrative examples may include innovation, creativity and enterprise; e-commerce, knowledge management; sustainability, business ethics, values and norms; globalisation.

Subject Benchmarks for Health and Social Care Management 

Location within national Standards, local action:Health and Social Care Standards and Planning Framework 2005/06 - 2007/08

The core and development standards as listed in Standards for Better health (DH 2004) provide the foundation for the health and social care elements of this programme. These are specified within the following seven domains: safety; clinical and cost-effectiveness; governance; patient focus; accessible and responsive care; care environment and amenities; and public health.

Location within the national Qualifications Framework (NQF)

The NQF as identified by the Quality assurance agencey for Higher Education (2001) is designed to provide and promote academic standards via benchmarking and specifications.

PG certificates are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and /or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice.
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship.
  • Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline.
  • Conceptual inderstanding that enables the student:
  • To critically evaluate current research and advanced scholrship in the discipline.
  • To evaulate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non specialist audiences.
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act automomously in implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level.

and will have the qualities and transfererable skills necessary for employment requiring:

  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibilty.
  • Decison making in complex and unpredictable situations.
  • The independant learning ability required for continuing professional development.

The programme complies with the credits per module and for award as recommended in the framework and with the NQF qualifications descriptions at each level. The module descriptors clearly demonstrate the competencies expected at the appropriate level, and the amount of study effort required. The level characterisitc as described by the QAA in the NQF also relate to the overarching characteristics of learning as defined by the University of Chester.

Location within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework

Although the health and social care components of this programme do not directly assess practice, the theoretical underpinning can be mapped to the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework. Some adaptations have been made to account for the clinical bias within the framework.

These bencharks are fundamental to modules

Within this programme, students should study and acquire both management theory and management skills within the context of a health service environment.   

Some learning and teaching will be class-room based: lectures, seminars, discussions, presentations and tutorials constitute examples of the ways in which the tutor/student contact time may be utilised in this way. Additionally, it is anticipated that learning and teaching will take place through analysis of live case studies, use of video and for NM7012 e-learning in which students will experience shared learning via the discussion board.  Learning opportunities will enable students to apply elements of their academic learning to a real-life context.  They should also serve as valuable integrative experiences, enabling students to enrich and extend their knowledge, skills and understanding. 

Further support to learning is afforded through weekly 'drop-in' sessions for each of the modules where students can follow-up issues they identify with their tutors in a more informal setting. 

Additionally, learning will be acquired through extensive tutor-directed and student-directed independent reading and research, much of which will inform the class-tutor contact time.   

The value of developing within students the ability to work and learn autonomously is recognised, to the extent that it is acknowledged as a programme aim.  To facilitate the development of this, emphasis will be placed on a shared responsibility for learning, on the importance of independant work to support the tutor-led sessions and on student self-directed learning.  student autonomy and autonomous learning will be particularly developed within the dissertation, and it is appropraite that this element occurs in the latter half of the programme, after students have had the opportunity to develop appropriate skills, knowledge and understading in the earlier stages of the programme.

A pastoral support hour will be offered throughout the taught part of the programme. This will support the students learning on this programme.  Examples of typical subject matter to be covered here are; referencing correctly and avoiding plagiarism, designing and giving presentations, structuring and writing level M assignments.  The Business librarian will also be using these sessions for research workshops on occasions throughout the year.   

In addition, international students will attend two hours of English language support per week.

For all 20 credit modules, students will undertake two pieces of assessment.  For most modules one will be administered approximately one third to half way through the taught component of the programme, and the other at the end of the taught component.  The first, shorter, piece of work will fulfil several functions.  Recognising that some students may have no previous knowledge of business, this first piece of work  can act as a valuable diagnostic tool, enabling both the student and the tutor to recognise areas of strength or weakness in performance at an early stage in their studies. 

It is envisaged that the shorter piece of work will take the form, for example, of a critique, summary, proposal, seminar presentation or evaluation, and will be approximately 1250 words equivalence in length.  An indicative example of an assignment of this nature could be: a presentation on a student’s critical evaluation of a range of literature on a certain topic, or a written response identifying and evaluating a range of business problems in relation to a case study.

Towards the end of the taught part of the programme, students will undertake a longer piece of work, in the region of 3,000 words.  This piece of work will give students an opportunity to synthesise and integrate  the knowledge, skills and understanding acquired, demonstrate their ability to think strategically, and allow them to develop their abilities through a more in-depth study of a particular problem etc.  A longer piece of assessment will also provide opportunity for students to demonstrate exit velocity from the programme.  This assessment may take the form of a critical evaluation, a written proposal or a presentation for the development of a new product or service, or problem solving analysis etc.   In this way, students have an opportunity to achieve integration of their learning.The Management Research Project of 12,500 words will normally be submitted for assessment by September of the year following that in which the student first enrolled.  In this way the student has a extended time frame in which to complete this work.

For the module NM7012 students are required to produce a poster and attend an oral examination relating to the poster.  The two components are inextricably linked and assessment takes place at the end of the module.  

The assessment strategy will be communicated in writing to each student, at the commencement of the module.  It will also be available electronically.


This award is attractive to applicants who have current health services technical skills and experience and who wish to progress their career through a management route, as well as to recent graduates. This will appeal to both graduates who have recently completed their first degrees, who would undertake this full-time, and working individuals within or aspiring to the industry who could complete through part-time study, including clinical professionals.

This course is designed to support students who wish to move into managerial positions within the health services industry and who wish to complement their previous professional or academic qualifications or to build upon workplace experience. For example, the course combines insights to both public and private health care services with contemporary management theory.

In so doing, graduating students may likewise find attractive career opportunities within a wide range of businesses, at a management level.   As well as within general management, the inclusion of modules within the three functional areas of business Finance, HRM and innovation may mean that students could also be successful in pursuing other management roles and roles as leaders of innovation and enterprise in related fields.    

This programme of study in fully embraces the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity.  The  University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  

In addition, within this programme: 

.Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 

•Each module has been developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.

•There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans where appropriate.

•The induction activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.

•Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules  to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.

•Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking  also enhances equal opportunity to all students.

•In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and promptly notified to the University for removal or for reasonable adjustment to be made based on requirements.

•All students are made aware of the Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise.

•The programme Leader acts as PAT for all students.  An appointment system also exists whereby any student can make an appointment to see any member of staff, including the head of department and Dean.

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