About this course

This is a free online course on community engagement and involvement (CEI) in global health research.

The aim of this course is to develop learners' understanding and knowledge of CEI, supporting their ability to plan and design ethical and impactful CEI in health research. For the purposes of this course, we use the term CEI to mean:

"An active involvement of the community throughout the research process, using participatory approaches and working in partnership with all key stakeholders. CEI includes a range of activities which involve interactions between researchers, community members and stakeholders, aimed at improving the relevance, value and conduct of health research."

In progressing through the modules, learners will gain a better understanding and appreciation of the terms used for CEI, the broad range of CEI aims and approaches, and the overall value of CEI. CEI is an essential and rewarding component of research, and, as the course authors, we hope that you enjoy learning about it through this course.

The 7 course modules have been authored and peer reviewed by specialists in the area of CEI.

Who is this course for?
This course is open to all with an interest in CEI in health research including:

  • Early career CEI practitioners who want to learn about the theory and practice of CEI
  • Experienced CEI practitioners who feel they want to affirm good practice
  • Researchers with an interest in learning about CEI, or who want to start planning a CEI strategy
  • Research funders and managers
  • Learners in the Global North with an interest in patient and public involvement (PPI) and community engagement

Course learning outcomes
Learners completing this course will be able to:

  • Explain how CEI is understood and applied in health research 
  • Identify why CEI is important
  • Understand ethical principles that support CEI
  • Describe different CEI methods and approaches, and have the tools to decide which approach is the most appropriate and effective for their context
  • Plan for, and evaluate, CEI activities

How to use the course
The different modules of the course can be undertaken in any order. After successful completion of each end-of-module quiz, a certificate can be obtained. Alternatively, depending on your needs, you can select individual modules to complete.

An electronic certificate of completion can be obtained for each module once the corresponding module quiz is completed. You will need to score 80% or more to receive a certificate.

Course Contents

Module 1: Understanding Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI) Health Research
Module 2: Justifying CEI, Considering Stakeholders and Engaging Policymakers
Module 3: Ethical CEI
Module 4: Principles and Models for CEI
Module 5: Approaches and Methods for CEI
Module 6: CEI Partnerships, Relationships and Project Planning
Module 7: Evaluation of CEI


This course is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and Mesh Community Engagement Network.

With thanks to the Digital Learning team at the University of Southampton.

Use and reproduction of these e-learning materials

These e-learning materials are owned by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). You are free to share or adapt this material, but you must attribute it to the NIHR and Mesh Community Engagement Network. However, use or reproduction of all images and photographs is prohibited.