School of Health Professions

PgCert First Contact Practitioner in Primary Care (Musculoskeletal)

This programme offers an innovative approach to gaining specialist and advanced knowledge for those aiming to become a Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioner in primary care. The pathway is aligned with the national framework: The First Contact Practitioners (Musculoskeletal) HEE Roadmap and is designed to advance the knowledge, skills and attributes of the First Contact Practitioner (Musculoskeletal) and supports development of capability in practice within the Primary Care setting.

On successful completion of the PgCert you would have completed both stage 1 and 2 on the Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioner in Primary Care Roadmap. The modules have been developed in collaboration with key stakeholders and will be delivered by both experts in the field alongside experienced lecturers and researchers. You will have the opportunity to explore and gain a depth of critical understanding of the role, and be supported in developing your capability in practice.

Key features

The programme team aim to develop a culture that will foster excellence within practice, enhancing delivery of care within the primary care setting and developing skills which will ensure sustainability for future workforce development needs.

Other distinctive features of the PgCert and the student experience are:

  • We are the first provider in the South West to offer this programme.
  • A student-centred approach to the programme structure.
  • Use of blended learning as a mode of delivery incorporating study blocks and distance learning technologies.
  • Opportunities to apply knowledge and skills and develop capability in practice through placement learning.
  • Taught by a research-active team with international, national and local profiles in this area.
  • Assessment strategy designed to link to students' practice, such as case studies and portfolios.
  • Student engagement in quality improvement, knowledge creation and dissemination of best practice.
  • Supportive learning environment offering rich peer-learning opportunities.
  • From 2023, students in Plymouth can train and practice their professional healthcare skills in an inspiring purpose-built environment, InterCity Place.
  • A contemporary and dynamic programme responsive to the changing health and social care environment.
  • Future proofing the contemporary nature of the PgCert by development of close partnerships with expert clinicians who contribute to the teaching and assessment strategy.
  • The ability for the student to continue onwards with their postgraduate studies on the MSc Advanced Professional Practice pathways which offer a flexible and contemporaneous portfolio of study options, and a range of award possibilities from PgCert to PgDip to MSc.

Course details
  • Course details

  • Students registered on the Post Graduate Certificate: First Contact practitioner in primary care (musculoskeletal) must undertake the following three level 7 modules.

    Each of these module is level 7, 20 credits, leading to a PgCert of 60 credits. All three modules must be successfully achieved to obtain a PgCert First Contact practitioner in primary care (musculoskeletal).

    Advanced Clinical Reasoning in Musculoskeletal Conditions (ADV767)
    This module will enable qualified physiotherapists and other health care professionals with relevant musculoskeletal experience to extend their current practice within the field of musculoskeletal physiotherapy, by engendering a higher level of critical thinking and clinical reasoning within the context of evidence based practice.

    The role of the First Contact Practitioner (FCP) within Primary Care (PC) (ADV773)
    This module is aimed at registered physiotherapists and other health care professionals currently working in or towards the role of First Contact Practitioner (FCP) within primary care. It will equip students to demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge, competencies and professional and leadership skills required for this role using critical thinking, complex clinical reasoning and critical reflection skills.

    First Contact Practitioner (FCP) in Primary Care (PC) Practice Placement (ADV777)
    This module is aimed at health care professionals currently working in or towards the role of First Contact Practitioner (FCP) within primary care. It will provide the work-based experience required to develop and demonstrate capability in practice, aligned with the relevant national frameworks. Teaching and learning support alongside 75 hours of supervised practice in an MSK first contact practitioner environment.

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:

PgCert First Contact Practitioner in Primary Care Musculoskeletal programme specification 7357

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

Applicants will normally have a first degree, BSc (Hons) at 2:2 or above; or European first cycle equivalent plus a professional qualification in health or social care.

Applicants whose first language is not English must also provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English in accordance with the University’s Admissions Code of Practice i.e. IELTS average of 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each category.

In addition to the entry requirements above there are a number of specific admission criteria for this programme that will ensure students access this programme at the right time within their professional practice.

Specific admissions criteria are:

1. Applicants are able to evidence that they have the relevant MSK experience and are working at an advanced level in the treatment/ management of musculoskeletal pathology, normally this is a minimum of 5 years post registration including 3 years MSK experience. 

2. Applicants are able to provide evidence of registration as healthcare professionals.

3. Applicants must have support of workplace to enrol on the First Contact practitioner in primary care (musculoskeletal) PgCert.

4. To enrol on ADV773 students must have, in addition to the above:

  • Completed ADV767 Advanced Clinical Reasoning in Musculoskeletal Conditions Module
  • Completed the relevant e-learning modules (eLfH)
  • Identified an appropriate CPD mentor for ADV 773 The role of the first contact practitioner within primary care module.

5. To enrol on ADV777 First contact practitioner in primary care practice placement module students must have:

  • Successfully completed ADV773 The role of the first contact practitioner within primary care module
  • Identified an appropriate clinical mentor in primary care.

Fees, costs and funding

New student 2022 2023
Part time (Home) £1,000 per 20 credits   £1,100 per 20 credits

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. More information about fees and funding.


If you are studying on a programme where placements are integral to your study there are costs associated with travel and accommodation. Please speak with the programme admissions tutor to find out more.

In order to cater for the needs of the NHS workforce, this programme is flexible in nature and allows up to five years for students to complete the full MSc. For this reason, students on the programme are unable to claim support via the Student Loans Company Postgraduate Loan. The SLC stipulates that part time programmes (which do not have a full time equivalent) must be offered for no longer than three years. If you think that you will have trouble funding your place on the programme, we would recommend a discussion with your employer to see whether any financial support can be granted.

How to apply

Applying for this programme

Applications need to be completed via the PG apply online form. 

Applicants also need to complete the Workforce Support Information Form, Clinical Mentor Form and Mentor Form and attach them to their application.

Any questions please contact:


Professional Development Unit
4th floor, Rolle Building
University of Plymouth
Drake Circus
Plymouth, PL4 8AA

Tel: +44 (0)1752 586951

What happens after I apply?

After your application is received, it will be processed and sent to the Programme Lead for a decision to be made on your suitability to study. You may be asked to provide additional information or to take part in an interview (for overseas students this may be by telephone or video conference). Once this decision has been made, you will be sent an email either confirming your place on the programme, or rejecting your application and giving the reasons for this decision (you may request further feedback in order to improve your chances of selection at a later date).

Please note that you will be enrolled on the full MSc programme. You may choose to exit with the qualification of PgCert upon completion of an appropriate 60 credits, or a PgDip upon completion of an appropriate 120 credits. More information is contained within the programme specification.

For applicants with disabilities

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

First-class facilities to prepare you for your career in healthcare

From 2023, InterCity Place will be where undergraduate and postgraduate students from a variety of disciplines learn together under one roof.
Complementing existing clinical facilities, our new innovative suites, simulations and practice labs will help us to train and develop the next generation of nurses, paramedics and allied health professionals.
<p>InterCity Place facilities</p>

Honorary lecturers

  • James Rodger

  • Simon Ingram

  • Gethin Lynch

Programme staff