Peninsula Medical School

MSc Physician Associate Studies

With full fee sponsorship for Year 2 study on offer, as well as a guaranteed two years Band 7 NHS employment upon completion of the Physician Associate National exam, this course is ideal for life sciences graduates wanting the opportunity to train for a new healthcare role. 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.

This course is a three year duration with Years 1 and 2 being full-time, and Year 3 being part-time.

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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.


MSc Physician Associate Studies is now closed for 2020

Please note that we are accepting applications for 2021 entry.

Key features

  • Initial full-time two year programme of study
  • Guaranteed two years Band 7 NHS employment upon completion of the Physician Associate National exam following a successful sponsorship interview on entry to the course.
  • Sharpen your skills on this intensive programme which takes an inquiry-based learning approach
  • 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
  • Access highly-developed teaching resources 
  • Advance your understanding with fully integrated clinical skill development and clinical placements throughout the programme
  • Spend some time learning with medical students and other allied healthcare professions
  • Taught modules will be delivered in the autumn and spring terms, and your MSc will be completed part-time over the course of one year once you are working in clinical practice
  • The MSc stage of study is part-time consisting of a preparatory module to be completed prior to a final Healthcare In-Service Project.

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
    • PAS711 Foundations in Clinical Medicine 1

      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.

    • PAS712 Clinical, Diagnostic and Communication Skills 1

      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.

    • PAS713 Personal and Professional Development 1

      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.

    • PAS714 Evidence-Based Practice and Research Methods

      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.

  • Year 2
  • 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).

    Core modules
    • PAS721 Foundations in Clinical Medicine 2

      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.

    • PAS722 Clinical, Diagnostic and Communication Skills 2

      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.

    • PAS723 Personal and Professional Development 2

  • Final year
  • MSc Stage Modules (from September 2019)

    These Modules are recommended for those who have achieved a PG Diploma in Physician Associate Studies and who have passed the National Examination for Physician Assistants. It is anticipated that applicants for these modules will have a minimum of 1-2 years post-graduate experience of practicing as a qualified Physician Associate/Assistant. The MSc stage (60 credits) comprises 2 modules: a 20-credit Project Design and a 40-credit Healthcare In-service Project. Delivery will involve a blended learning approach, with distance learning and book-ended face-to-face attendance to minimise time out of clinical practice. The project has been designed as a Healthcare In-Service Project, and could be either a quality improvement project, a service evaluation, audit, traditional research project, critical case series review or systematic review. The 20-credit module has been developed to prepare students for the project stage. It is anticipated that the project would relate to the student’s area of clinical practice and interests and so has the potential to benefit both student and their employing organisation. 

    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.

    Core modules
    • DIS733 Healthcare In-Service Project

      This module enables students to design and implement a project proposal aimed at evaluation and improvement of an aspect of current clinical practice. Students will design and undertake the project and evaluate and disseminate their findings through the production of a final project report and poster.

    • PAS731 Project Design

      Using a blended learning approach, the module introduces students to the changing nature of modern healthcare and the requirement for continued evaluation and improvement of current clinical practice. The application of contemporary evidence to elicit innovation and improvement is explored. The module examines project design and development and the process involved in defining a coherent project plan.

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 Studies programme specification 4652

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

Applications will only be considered from aspirants who hold one of the following educational profile combinations:

Postgraduate diploma stage - full-time

Degree subject area Minimum degree classification *Minimum clinical setting work experience/exposure On-course clinical setting exposure considered Academic qualifying essay
Life science, biomedical science, or healthcare subject, or current healthcare professionals educated to honours degree level 2:1 2 weeks Yes Not required
Life science, biomedical science, or healthcare subject, or current healthcare professionals educated to honours degree level 2:2 12 months Yes Required – only if your degree was achieved more than five years prior to applying
*Gained within five years prior to application.         

MSc stage - part-time  

Entry crieria Minimum degree classification Post qualification experience On-course clinical setting exposure considered Academic qualifying essay
Current registrant on the Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register (PAMVR)  N/A 1 - 2 years (recommended) N/A N/A

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

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New students Postgraduate Diploma stage 2018
Home/EU £9,250

MSc stage 2018
Home/EU £5,000

Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change. 

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.

Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry Assistance Package
Our aim is to ensure that there are no hidden initial costs when commencing a healthcare professions course. Any additional costs should be kept to a minimum, therefore, we will be providing all our Physician Associate Studies students commencing our programme with an 'Assistance Package' of support as part of your course fees.

The PSMD Assistance Package covers the following:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service check costs 
  • Occupational Health costs, including immunisation

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

How to apply

Make sure you meet the entry requirements 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 Faculty of 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 blue '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 Faculty of 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 Medicine and Dentistry
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.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office.

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 – MSc Physician Associate Studies graduate

“The course is 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's 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