Normal Birth: Evidence and Debate Cert

Normal Birth: Evidence and Debate Cert
Current ways of doing child birth are framed in pathology, simplicity, linearity, and certainty. The Certificate in Normal Birth: Evidence and Debate explores the validity of a new way of seeing birth, based on theories of salutogenesis (well-being), complexity and uncertainty.

This postgraduate course is founded on a debate about the unique normality of each mother/baby pair, located in the wider societal, cultural, political economic context. It is an approach which takes the debate beyond birth itself, and into areas of areas of culture, political economy and community well-being. Authoritative forms of evidence, such as randomised controlled trials, are balanced with newer insights into childbirth, such as narrative research, and storytelling.

The course is rooted in clinical practice, in women's experiences, and in the experiential knowledge of independent practitioners, as well as in the students own clinical experiences and insights. If you join the course, you will be encouraged to move beyond traditional binaries (good/bad, normal birth/caesarean, midwives/doctors) and into a more complex, and hopefully more fruitful analysis of your own clinical situation. This will include discussions and analysis of the barriers and promoters of normality in your setting and your personal practice, as well as that of your fellow students. It also includes discussion of national and international contexts.

Normal Birth: Evidence and Debate is taught by internationally respected researchers and by practitioners at the cutting edge of research and practice in the area of normal birth, and it includes insights from service users.

Entry and Admissions

Award Type:


Ancillary Award:



Short Course / CPD

Study Mode:

Full time and Part time

Delivery Method:

Mixed Mode

Course Length:

One semester


School of Community Health and Midwifery

Partner Colleges:

No Partner College



Start Date:

Varies: usually April each year.

Entry Requirements:

  • Health care professionals - An entry on the NMC register
  • Available to non-healthcare professionals
  • Second class honours degree or equivalent study required to undertake the course in past 10 years.

Course Content

Course Outline:
This course aims to explore the validity of a new way of seeing birth based on theories of salutogenesis (wellbeing) complexity and uncertainty. It is founded on a debate about the unique normality of each mother/baby pair beyond birth itself and into areas of culture, political economy and community wellbeing. It was created to address the lack of debate and evidence around normal physiological processes in Western approaches to childbirth. This includes the apparent inability to even define 'normal birth', except as an absence of technical intervention.

This module includes knowledge development in and philosophical and theoretical reflection on the following areas, in the context of childbirth and maternal and infant wellbeing:

  • Locating personal constructs of midwifery and of childbirth
  • Critically engaging with concepts of normality, average, diversity, deviance
  • Appraising specific research into parameters of normality
  • Developing theoretical insights into the nature and impact of the birth environment
  • Critically engaging with new ways of seeing health and childbirth, based on the theories of complexity and chaos, uncertainty and salutogenesis
  • Developing theoretical insights into the nature of professional and personal relationships in the context of childbirth
  • Using all of the above to construct theoretical and transformational insights into the way the individual practices in the context of childbirth.

Course at a Glance

Year 1

  • Personal constructs, reflection in action, reflexivity, critical thinking
  • Concepts of normality, average, diversity, deviance
  • Outcomes related to mode of birth
  • Constructs and supervaluation of risk, technocratic ways of being, 'medicalisation'
  • Constructs of choice, control, consumerism, and informed consent
  • Campaigns and movements in the context of humanising and normalising birth
  • Maternal mortality and morbidity and normal childbirth
  • Risk and coercion
  • Professional projects in birth
  • Telling stories from practice: story and narrative as evidence
  • Unusual normal birth in practice
  • 'Evidence' politics and negotiation
  • New ways of seeing: complexity, salutogenesis, uncertainty
  • Metaphysics: belief, love, pride ('skilled help from the heart')
  • Emotional intelligence, Cognitive dissonance
  • Relationships, mothering the mother, social networks, prescencing, connectivity
  • Boundaries to choice, understanding extreme maternal choice
  • The environment of birth, and dealing with risk and pain
  • Negotiating normal birth through risk, choice and collaborative guidelines
  • The nature of expertise and leadership
  • Commissioning for normal birth
  • Vaginal birth and caesarean section: issues of embodiment

Learning Environment & Assessment:

The course is delivered in a series of face-to-face sessions, complemented by reflection on the theoretical, philosophical, moral and practical insights brought by critical stories based on particular examples of practice. You will be asked to bring stories from your practice that you want to discuss, and to reflect on these stories between sessions. Together, the group will then apply the learning content to each other’s stories at the beginning of each session, building on the insights from the previous sessions.

Taught sessions include leading international researchers in this area from within the department of midwifery studies, and sessions led by external clinical experts, including those with expertise in designing innovative systems of delivering care within the NHS, and an independent midwife who discusses the fluid parameters of normality when a birth takes place outside the authoritative knowledge of hospital based birth. The course also includes a reflective session with service users.

You will be required to produce a 5000 word synthesised case study comprising accounts of least three women attended in labour, including a final theory-driven synthesis, using the knowledge you have developed during the module.

Academic Expertise

We are committed to delivering academic learning of the highest quality, helping you to stretch your mind and fulfil your university ambitions.

Learning outcome & aims

We aim to create the perfect blend of knowledge, practical experience and relevance to equip UCLan graduates with the confidence and skills they need to get ahead in the world of work.

Industry links & professional accreditation

We have great links with employers including household names such as Sony, BAE Systems and Apple. We also have links with the smaller companies in the region and offer help and assistance to more than 1,000 of these – with many of our graduates staying in the region it is important we develop these relationships.

Work experience and international opportunities

At UCLan we work with a range of businesses and organisations, many of which provide work experience opportunities and project briefs to enable to you gain real work experience whilst you undertake your postgraduate programme. Your course tutor will advise on opportunities available within your course and the UCLan Careers Team can provide help, advice and guidance on how to apply for them and how to make the most of these opportunities.

Graduate Careers

The UCLan Careers Team offer ongoing supportive careers advice and guidance throughout your course and after graduation, along with a range of modules, work experience opportunities and events to help you acquire the skills to make you stand out to potential employers in today’s competitive market.


UCLan is recognised for its outstanding course provision which gives students the skills, knowledge, and personal attributes necessary to succeed at the University and in their future careers. To find out more about the experiences of our students, read our success stories.

Progression Routes

From foundation courses through to world-leading research degrees, you can study a wide range of subject areas at UCLan. Whether you want to develop your knowledge in a subject you enjoy or gain further qualifications to enhance your career, at UCLan there are numerous progression routes for you to follow.

Fees & Funding

For details of the standard fee for UK/EU students studying this course please contact the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing.

For 2018/19 fees please refer to our fees page.

How to Apply

Individuals working for health and social care organisations should initially discuss their application with their employer as arrangements may be in place for financial and study leave support.

Individuals can purchase this course as an independent student and should obtain an application form from:

Post-registration Recruitment
School of Health
University of Central Lancashire
Preston PR1 2HE
Tel: 01772 893836/ 3839

After May 2016, please note this course will next be held in 2017/18. Please contact for further information.

About UCLan

Post-registration Recruitment

Faculty of Health & Wellbeing

University of Central Lancashire,
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1772 89 3836 / 3839