Physician Associate MSc

Postgraduate (2 years full-time)

Chelmsford, Cambridge

September 2018

Please note: this course is open to UK and EU applicants only, as the availability of work placements in the UK health service is limited.


Physicians’ associates are in demand because of a shortfall in the number of doctors; they diagnose, treat and care for patients in a variety of specialist settings. If you have a first degree in life or health sciences, our MSc will train you in a wide range of clinical skills.

Full description


The UK physician’s associate scheme builds on 40 years’ proven success of a similar system in the USA. Physician associates fill an emerging and increasingly important role in the UK, not least because they help to mitigate the UK shortfall in medics as well as contributing to the general efficiency of improving health are delivery for all NHS patients.

There are increasing opportunities for employment in the NHS acute and primary healthcare service sector across the East of England. Graduate physician associates are frequently appointed to roles in general practice, cardiology, neurosurgery and other specialties.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Principles of Basic and Clinical Medicine
    Advance your knowledge and skills in relation to pathophysiology and clinical reasoning. This module will provide you with core knowledge of basic medical sciences in the fields of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology/histology, microbiology and genetics. It’ll provide you with an in-depth level of knowledge across the life span complemented by your clinical experiences. You’ll be taught using a variety of methods including seminar, lectures and enquiry based learning in order to support the identification of core clinical conditions. You’ll be provided with a case scenario from which to work from. This will assist the linkage between the basic pathophysiological processes to a clinical presentation and its management. Formative assessment will include presentation of case study to student peers.
  • Family Welfare and Child Healthcare
    Designed to help you develop the skills and knowledge required to undertake a comprehensive approach to the assessment, promotion and management of health and wellbeing for families and children. It provides a critical review of the wider determinants of health and wellbeing on families and children within their communities as well as considering the role of inter-agency working in the supportive statutory roles they undertake. This will include attaining knowledge of the ethical and legal factors related to vulnerability and safeguarding. The module will reflect the constructs associated with the National Service Framework for Children, Young people and Maternity Services. In addition, the module has a strong emphasis on the concept of public health and how this impacts on the health and wellbeing of families and children.
  • Clinical Pharmacology for Practice
    Develop a greater knowledge and understanding of the drugs used in clinical practice. These will be related to drugs widely used in your own practice, allowing you to consider and monitor overall drug response by patients. It’ll introduce you to the basic principles of pharmacology associated with some of the main groups of drugs used in practice. This will include analgesics, antibiotics and drugs affecting the cardiovascular, respiratory and central nervous systems. The basis of the incidence of undesirable side-effects brought about by combinations of drugs will also be included. Teaching will focus on how drugs are used in clinical practice and based around real patients to provide more relevance to practice.
  • Research Studies
    Designed to provide you with a critical overview of the main methodologies and designs applied to research within health, social work and social care, professional practice and policy. It provides you with an opportunity to explore the theoretical dilemmas which underlie the process of inquiry and its relationship to practice. All professionals need to be highly skilled and knowledgeable to meet the demands of complex activity which underpins much professional practice and demonstrate that research directly informs practice.

Year two, core modules

  • Applied Practice and Professional Development for the Physician Associate
    Promote and support the development of clinical examination and communication skills as well as a level of self-awareness and reflection appropriate for professional practice. The module will provide you with the opportunities to develop both personally and professionally through a variety of activities including reflection, self-directed study, group work, and analysis of situations and synthesis. The focus will be on developing a range of professional skills which are fundamental to the role of the physician associate. This includes communication, life-long learning skills, awareness of medical ethical and legal issues, diversity and inter-professional and multi-disciplinary team working as well as an understanding of the NHS structure and related policies.
  • Major Project
    The major project is at the centre of the Masters award and allows you to demonstrate your creativity and apply the skills and concepts you have learned in the previous modules. It is the opportunity for you to carry out an in depth study in a specific area and to expand or redefine existing knowledge. In practical terms, you’ll be provided with a list of available research projects prior to the major project but will also have the opportunity to suggest your own projects. It is hoped that many of these projects will be carried out with either an industrial partner or a clinician. In the course of the project you may generate intellectual property, defined as an idea, invention or creation which can be protected by law from being copied by someone else


We use a range of assessment methods to check your progress during your studies and then to make sure that you meet the required standards to register for practice as a Physician Associate.

Although they vary, our assessment strategies are all carefully designed to challenge you so that you expand your critical and creative thinking as well as your problem-solving and skills for clinical practice. The assessments will let you synthesise existing knowledge and accumulate new knowledge in order to evidence the development of your professional practice.

Your progress and achievements will be assessed through theoretical essays, simulated clinically orientated objective structured clinical examination (OSCE), multiple-choice exams, clinical practice-based observations and an exam set by the professional UK & Ireland Universities Board for Physician Associate Education.

This is a two year programme

Please note that you will need to complete all of the above core modules. This course does not have any optional modules. Modules are subject to change and availability.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Medical Science, opened in 2014. Based on our riverside campus in Chelmsford and Young Street campus in Cambridge, we deliver innovative and clinically relevant teaching and research across three departments:

  • Allied Health
  • Medical Science and Public Health
  • School of Medicine

Thanks to our close relationships with the major clinical-care providers in the east of England, there are significant opportunities for collaboration and student placements across a variety of clinical sites.

We offer exciting opportunities for research and education in the allied health professions. We also translate science and epidemiology into health education and primary care, and deliver taught Master’s programmes to qualified medics. We have a flourishing community of PhD and MD(Res) students across all of our research fields.

Our advanced learning facilities include state-of-the-art clinical skills laboratories and simulation suites, which mirror real-life clinical situations. We also have a fantastic, modern library and a wide range of science labs and ICT suites.

Where can I study?

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


We are Health Education England’s (HEE)‘Preferred Provider’ for Essex, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. HEE have indicated that they may be subsiding the tuition fee for Home/EU students, this fee subsidy does not require an application. More information on annual fees will be available at interview.

Additional costs

Travel to placements

Associated travel costs

Medical equipment

Up to £500 depending on equipment required

Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certificate

Certificate from Res Council

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

From September 2018, EU students starting an undergraduate degree with us can access an £800 bursary.

Meanwhile, our £400 Books Plus scheme helps with the costs of study. There's no need to apply for this: if you're eligible you can simply collect a Books Plus card when you start your course.

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

International students

This course is open to UK and EU applicants only, as the availability of work placements in the UK health service is limited.

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