MSc Pharmaceutical Industry Advanced Training (PIAT) / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Course unit details:
Lean Processes (PIAT 8)

Unit code PHAR71080
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Variable teaching patterns
Offered by Pharmacy
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit will help you to develop a practical understanding of the lean processes that can help a business be more efficient – known as business improvement statistical sciences. It will raise your awareness, knowledge and capability in statistical techniques and frameworks so that business leaders, managers and experts are able to champion, support and engage in the effective use of these tools in their business process improvement initiatives and day to day activities. 


The unit aims to enable students to:

  • Acquire and develop a sound awareness and understanding of lean thinking principles
  • Acquire and develop a broad range of problem solving and continuous improvement (CI) skills to make effective contributions to the organisation goals
  • Develop the ability to create concise and prioritised improvement goals from which they can apply the appropriate problem solving and CI methods and tools
  • Develop key skills required to monitor, control and improve processes
  • Identify their own learning needs, develop themselves as critically reflective practitioners and advance their own learning to sustain continuing professional development
  • Critically evaluate literature, theories and methodologies and apply appropriate approaches in the execution of improvement initiatives.


Teaching and learning methods

Students are provided with the learning material in soft copy form. The learning material comprises 11 chapters covering principles, tools and techniques needed to take strategic and operational decisions, using Lean & Six Sigma thinking. Each chapter contains a number of exercises together with suggested answers for students to check their learning as they progress through the unit. A reference list of further reading is provided at the end of the unit allowing the student to investigate the subject area more deeply, and the unit tutor is available to answer queries and provide guidance as required. The face-to-face workshop at the annual workshop event explores key areas of the unit through a range of hands-on exercises and practical demonstrations.


Knowledge and understanding

Students should be able to: 

Demonstrate knowledge and sound understanding of:

Lean thinking principles

Problem Solving, Continuous Improvement and Process Robustness

Different approaches to Problem Solving and Continuous Improvement

Importance of mindset and behaviours in delivery of sustained improvements

Importance of the components and sources of variation

Use of structured and systematic approaches to Problem Solving and Continuous Improvement

The key role of leadership in creating a Continuous Improvement environment

Intellectual skills

Students should be able to: 

  • Apply lean and statistical methods to identify and prioritise improvements
  • Use of analysis techniques to assess and manage risk
  • Understand how the lean methodologies and statistical techniques align to some key industry guidelines such as Continuous Process Verification, Validation and Quality by Design
  • Leverage statistics techniques to understand and evaluate process performance.

Practical skills

Students should be able to: 

  • Lead and facilitate teams through problem solving and decision making
  • Use statistical software to manipulate data, analyse data, draw conclusions and perform effective decision making
  • Complete practical exercises to demonstrate an understanding of the application of knowledge derived from the course material
  • Use structured techniques to solve problems and drive continuous improvement 
  • Network with key stakeholders in own organisation to influence the use of learning gained through the course participation
  • Engage in critically reflective practice as a process of continuous personal development.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students should be able to: 

  • Critique information from a range of sources to formulate opinions and tailor approaches
  • Management of improvements in accordance with organisational requirements, demonstrating high level knowledge on process driven approaches
  • Review current working practices and identify improvement opportunities based on knowledge and experience gained
  • Prioritise process management to deliver effective and sustained business processes
  • Provide effective presentation of data.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Assessment task


How and when feedback is provided

Weighting within unit (if relevant)



3000 words

Feedback returned by email within 15 working days.



Feedback methods

Feedback returned by email within 15 working days.

Recommended reading

Reading list is included at the end of the unit, including: 

•    Wheeler, Donald.J and Lyday, Richard. W (1989). Evaluating The Measurement Process . SPC Press 
•    Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) (2003). Measurement systems analysis (MSA) manual (3rd edition). Southfield, MI: Chrysler, Ford, General Motors Supplier Quality Requirements Task Force. 
•    Montgomery, D.C., and Runger, G.C. (1993 a). Gage capability and designed experiments. Part I: Basic methods. Quality Engineering, 6 (1993/1994), 115 –135.
•    Shook, John, Managing to Learn, The Lean Enterprise Institute 
•    Ackoff, Russell, the Art of Problem Solving, New York, Wiley, 1978 
•    Dorner, Dietrich, The logic of failure: Why things Go Wrong and What We Can Do to Make Them Right, New York:Metropolitan Books, 1996

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Omar McCarthy Unit coordinator

Return to course details