Peninsula Medical School

MSc Physician Associate Studies

With full fee sponsorship for Year 2 and two years Band 7 NHS employment upon completion of the Physician Associate National exam on offer, this full-time 2 year course is ideal for life sciences graduates wanting the opportunity to train for a new healthcare role, or for healthcare practitioners who would like to develop and expand their skills and scope of practice.

As a Physician Associate you’ll work in the NHS under the supervision of doctors and alongside healthcare professionals, delivering care to patients. You’ll be equipped for a career that’ll be both rewarding and challenging.

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First choice for health

Delivered by professional experts, our programmes are tailored to you and your career. Together, we address today's most challenging healthcare issues, through research-informed teaching and active, real-world learning.


Key features

  • 100% graduate pass rate at National Certification Examination
  • Experience an integrated curriculum designed to prepare you for clinical practice
  • Sharpen your skills on this intensive programme which uses multiple forms of teaching and learning methods to support your personal and professional development
  • Benefit from early patient contact from the first weeks, continuing and increasing throughout the programme, ensuring that your personal, practical and professional development is patient-centred
  • Clinical placements with key NHS partners across the South West
  • Access highly-developed teaching resources
  • Learn and practice clinical skills in our advanced and dedicated clinical skills centre, including using high-fidelity simulation
  • Advance your understanding with fully integrated clinical skill development and clinical placements throughout the programme
  • Spend time learning with medical students and other allied healthcare professions
  • Join one of England’s top four medical schools and make a difference to patient care

Course details
  • Year 1

  • The first six months will typically be spent in the University, establishing the foundations of clinical medicine and developing your clinical, diagnostic and communication skills, while spending one day per week in community placements seeing patients. Following this initial phase, while continuing your placement in General Practice and the community, you will commence clinical placements one day per week in the hospital.

    Core modules

    • Foundations in Clinical Medicine 1 (PAS711)

      This module advances students' knowledge in pathophysiology and clinical reasoning appropriate to clinical practice. Students are exposed to relevant basic medical and human sciences and their application to practice; and a wide range of clinical experiences using Inquiry-Based Learning. They will develop clinical reasoning skills for managing undifferentiated presentations of common and important medical conditions.

    • Clinical, Diagnostic and Communication Skills 1 (PAS712)

      This module deals with the acquisition of the basic core clinical competences and communication skills underpinning modern clinical practice. Through supervised practice in a predominantly simulated environment students will develop and demonstrate the clinical competencies required of a Physician Associate and learn to effectively communicate with patients, carers and other healthcare professionals.

    • Personal and Professional Development 1 (PAS713)

      Modern healthcare requires students to be reflective, holistic practitioners to provide patient-centred care. During this module, students work in small groups and on clinical placement to achieve the professionalism standards required of a Physician Associate (PA). They are exposed to the ethical and legal principles relevant to healthcare, and are expected to take an active role in developing as reflective practitioners.

    • Evidence-Based Practice and Research Methods (PAS714)

      Medical knowledge is constantly evolving. Students must be able to 'keep up to date' with advances and know what evidence is relevant and appropriate to their clinical practice. This module enables students to develop the skills required to search, retrieve, critically appraise and synthesis conclusions from the current medical literature and make recommendations for clinical practice.

  • Final year

  • In your second year, you will be based predominantly in the clinical setting with speciality blocks in mental health, general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, emergency medicine and general adult medicine (both hospital and community based). Your timetable is designed to support you to complete the required clinical hours, supported by a university based academic program every 3 weeks. You will also develop and apply your knowledge of evidence in practice to a clinical case you are particularly interested in to complete the Masters portion of your programme

    Core modules

    • Foundations in Clinical Medicine 2 (PAS724)

      The module gives students an opportunity to expand their theoretical knowledge and apply their learning to clinical practice. Students enhance their clinical reasoning skills in the management of a range of conditions. Students are exposed to advanced pathophysiological concepts relevant to their day to day practice.

    • Clinical, Diagnostic and Communication Skills 2 (PAS725)

      During this module, students are predominantly based in the clinical environment. They are to develop their basic clinical competencies with real patient encounters, and in doing so are able to apply the skills learnt in the simulated environment within both primary and secondary care. Students are expected to develop their communication skills to successfully support shared-decision making and patient-centred care.

    • Personal and Professional Development 2 (PAS726)

      As a qualified Physician Associate, students must exemplify the professional standards expected of a healthcare professional. This module enables them to develop the skills and values they have learnt in an immersive clinical environment. Students will also develop their skills of reflective writing and practice to enable them to use personal and professional experiences to enhance their future clinical practice.

    • Evidence in Practice (PAS727)

      This module allows students to apply and expand their knowledge of evidence based practice and appreciate the need for continuous clinical evaluation and improvement. They will and combine this learning with their developing clinical knowledge to create and disseminate a clinical case report in the style of a published report

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MSc Physician Associate Programme Specification Jan 2021 6510

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.
Entry requirements

A recognised first degree (2:1 or above) in a life science, biomedical science, or healthcare subject (from the list below); or current healthcare professionals educated to honours degree level (2:1 or above). To be accompanied by a minimum period of 2 weeks consecutive clinical setting exposure. Relevant ‘on course’ placement experience would count towards this exposure target. Alternatively, experience of working in a setting with customer contact, and 10 days clinical attachment experience in a hospital or general practice setting would also be considered.


A recognised first degree (2:2 or above) in a life science, biomedical science, or healthcare subject (from the list below); or current healthcare professionals educated to honours degree level (2:2 or above). To be accompanied by a minimum period of 12 consecutive months clinical setting exposure. Relevant 'on course' placement experience could count towards this exposure target. If the award is >5years old then we would expect evidence of recent academic study or completion of an academic qualifying essay.

Courses and professions considered include:

  • Chiropractic Studies
  • Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Optometry
  • Osteopathy
  • Paramedic Medicine
  • Podiatry
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Human Biosciences
  • Combined or Integrated Science
  • Diagnostic Imaging, Diagnostic Radiography, Radiography
  • Genetics
  • Medical Science
  • Pharmacology, Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Science
  • Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Nursing
  • Midwifery

Applications from non-standard applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the programme team. If you wish to be considered for admission, and have a significant level of healthcare experience, but do not fulfil the criteria above, please contact the admissions team to discuss this further.

If your first language is not English you will be required to provide evidence of competence in English language:

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2021-2022 2022-2023
Home £9,250 £9,250
International N/A To be confirmed
Part time (Home) N/A To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit

Find out about funding your postgraduate studies with this helpful list of sources.

The MSc Physician Associate Studies programme may be eligible for a postgraduate loan from the Student Loans Company.   

All successful applicants will be offered the opportunity to apply for fee sponsorship for Year 2 ONLY through our NHS Trust partners. This sponsorship would cover your fees for Year 2. Places are limited.

Please note this is not an NHS bursary and only tuition fees (Year 2 ONLY) will be sponsored, not living costs.

Details of Sponsorship opportunities will be made available to you if you are selected for interview.

How to apply

Make sure you meet the entry requirements for this programme.

Unfortunately, we do not currently accept international applicants for this programme.

Before you apply

Make sure you have all your supporting documents. Documents required usually include:
  • Evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • Personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in this course and outlining the nature of previous and current teaching experience. You can write this into the online application form, or send it as a separate attachment.
  • Two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course
  • Two passport photographs
  • Curriculum Vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • Proof of sponsorship, if applicable

When to apply

Applications for postgraduate programmes of study can usually be made throughout the year. When applying for a taught postgraduate programme, please check for any submission deadlines with the Medicine and Dentistry Admissions team (contact details below). For full-time programmes, you may be invited for interview.

Check the closing date and apply as early as possible as our programmes are popular.

Submitting an application

Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the red 'Apply now' icon on this page).

Once you have registered and logged in, please enter the ‘course code’ which can be found above into the search bar to begin your application.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our online admissions policy for taught programmes. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

What happens after I apply?

For more information contact the Medicine and Dentistry Admissions team.

If you would like to speak to one of our course information advisors, please contact us:

University of Plymouth

Faculty of Health
The John Bull Building
Research Way
Plymouth Science Park

Tel: +44 (0)1752 437333
Fax: +44 (0)1752 517842

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information, to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) or you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Information team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. The Doctoral College is also available to answer any queries on our postgraduate research degrees.

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by the University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website.

Clinical placements - year one

You will explore a range of General Practice and community placements together with placements in acute hospital settings in Plymouth (Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust) and the wider Plymouth commuting catchment area.

Clinical placements - year two

In year two longer acute hospital placements continue in Plymouth and extend to the South Devon NHS Foundation Trust in Torbay.

The opportunity to attend clinical attachments in a wider range of acute hospitals including Truro, Taunton and Yeovil may be available to you.

Beth Norman – PgDip Physician Associate Studies graduate

“When I studied this course it was sponsored by the hospital trust, with a two-year job contract after you qualify. This means you can concentrate on studying in your final year instead of job hunting and interviews. The second year is spent on placement at the trust which makes the transition from student to employee incredibly easy.”

Learn more about Beth's career as a physician associate

Student insight - Matthew Tamblyn

I have worked within the ambulance service for the past nine years, and felt that the PgDip Physician Associate Studies course would be a positive change. It’s a two year PgDip designed for people with a clinical background or a life science degree.

Read more about Matthew's experience on the course

Physician associate training programme welcomes first students

This is a pioneer programme and one which is giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of a career in medicine

Victoria Black, 24, from Plymouth

Read the full press release

Student insight - Alice Hobbs

The way that the course is delivered is designed to teach us the skills needed to find the best way to manage any clinical scenario we may come across while working, rather than didactically teaching us the information.
Learn more about Alice

Student insight - James Edgar

Plymouth's pioneering course looked fresh and their use of models and emphasis on clinical placement attracted me. The sheer amount of clinical experience in a variety of medical settings with a variety of patients is invaluable.
Read more about James