School of Nursing and Midwifery

PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner (Cardiothoracic Surgery)

Are you passionate about cardiothoracics? Deliver care for surgical patients and develop the necessary skills to become a surgical care practitioner. Through this programme you’ll learn core competences for surgical care practitioners, with a focus on cardiothoracic surgery. You’ll gain the necessary skills to assist with complex surgical procedures and provide high quality patient care. Secure the experience you need to excel in unpredictable and highly pressurised clinical environments.

First choice for health logo

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

  • Develop professional experience and specialist knowledge, through our blend of academic and practical teaching, delivered by a team involved in the education and practice development of the Surgical Care Practitioner role at national level for over 15 years.
  • Benefit from eight weeks of taught theory and 28 weeks of direct clinical practice (per year).
  • Expand your skills to undertake complex surgical procedures, manage patients intra-operatively and be responsible for pre-operative and post-operative outpatient clinics.
  • Benefit from a combination of academic, theoretical and practical teaching, giving you the necessary clinical skills to meet national industry standards. We have strong links with existing practitioners, and visiting lecturers include current practising qualified Surgical Care Practitioners and Consultant Surgeons.
  • Consider innovative approaches to care delivery and enhance the surgical patient experience. 
  • Cultivate a precise and meticulous work ethic, delivering an effective, safe and efficient service to patients. 
  • Work both autonomously and as part of a multi-profession team. 
  • Secure the experience you need to excel in unpredictable and highly pressurised clinical environments. 
  • Use your initiative to solve complex problems and deliver high quality patient care. Past students have enabled new service provision, such as satellite clinics for pre and/or postoperative assessment, and student initiated audits have generated new processes and cost savings for employing organisations.
  • Royal College of Surgeons accredited programme.

Please note that when you enrol on this programme, you always enrol to study the postgraduate diploma but we offer two exit awards: PgCert and PgDip.

Course details
  • Year 1

  • You’ll develop further specialist knowledge and skills, enabling greater participation and leadership in surgical patient care. You'll also learn the principles of data collection and analysis, demonstrating clinical reasoning and judgement.

    Assessment in practice is ongoing throughout the programme with specified competencies to be achieved within operating theatres, clinics and ward areas. Assessment in theory is patient and service focused to enable development of condition/patient specific knowledge as well as service enhancement.

    Award postgraduate certificate – to achieve a postgraduate certificate, you will need to earn 60 credits. Please refer to the below programme specification for further information on modules to be studied.

    Please note: the named exit award at postgraduate certificate level is Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) Surgical Care Practitioner.

    Core modules

    • Advanced Concepts in Research: Methodology and Methods (APP758)

      The aim of this module is to enable students to build on their undergraduate research knowledge to develop a deeper understanding of research methodologies and research methods. The module will also prepare students for their chosen form of final programme module. The module is designed to be delivered face-to-face, blended learning and/or via distance learning approaches.

    • Core Competencies for Surgical Care Practice (SCP701)

      Trainees will demonstrate mastery of skills, knowledge and competence to safely perform the core role of Surgical Care Practitioner, including specific complex skills, clinical reasoning and judgement. Reflexivity and engagement in research supporting practice are integral to the module.

  • Final year

  • You’ll develop further specialist knowledge and skills enabling greater participation and leadership in surgical patient care. Most organisations offer mid-Band 6 during training, and Band 7 on qualification (PgDip). Many continue to participate in service delivery innovation, with high-level patient interaction and decision-making.

    Award postgraduate diploma – to achieve a postgraduate diploma, you will have first completed the PgCert and need to earn an additional 60 credits (to give 120 credits in total). Please refer to the below programme specification for further information on modules to be studied.

    On completion of PgDip, you have the option to enrol onto the MSc Surgical Care Practitioner (Cardiothoracic Surgery).

    Core modules

    • Advanced Assessment for Clinical Practice (APP710)

      "This module will enable experienced practitioners to undertake a systematic and structured history taking assessment alongside a physical examination in order to integrate advanced assessment findings into clinical decision making. Emphasis will be on developing an understanding of systems and patho-physiology when seeing and managing patients with undiagnosed and undifferentiated presentations across healthcare settings."

    • Surgical Care Specialist Practice (Cardiothoracic Surgery) (SCP702)

      This specialist module is for SCPs practicing within Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (CT) specialism. It enables comprehensive acquisition of the knowledge and underpinning evidence that supports pathological, clinical, and practical mastery of the surgical techniques of the identified specialism within CT practice, enabling the trainee to achieve advanced level specialist practice in their chosen field.

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:

PgDip/MSc Surgical Care Practitioner programme specification 2022 23 5853

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

To apply for this programme, you'll need:

  • evidence of employment as a Surgical Care Practitioner Trainee within a UK Healthcare organisation
  • a named consultant surgeon who will be your clinical supervisor
  • a current and live registration with either the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Part 1 or 2) or the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • evidence of level 6 education or equivalent
  • three years post qualifying experience within a theatres/surgical speciality
  • a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service check (previously CRB)
  • a satisfactory occupational health clearance.


You will normally have a relevant honours degree (e.g. BSc (Hons) at 2:2 or above); a European first cycle equivalent; or an equivalent professional qualification. Other qualifications accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field may also be considered. Non-standard applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

If English is not your first language, you must also provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English in accordance with the University’s Admissions Code of Practice i.e. IELTS minimum of 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each part.


Unfortunately we are unable to take international students on this programme as you must be in an employed position as a trainee surgical care practitioner.


Scholarships are available for postgraduate taught programmes. Tell me more about scholarships and bursaries.

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

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2022-23  2023-24
Home £5,200 £6,300
International £5,200 £6,300

This programme is not suitable for part time students.

Please note that this programme is not open to applicants who would require a Tier 4/Student visa, but rather only to applicants who are working within the NHS under a Tier 2/Working visa.

How to apply

Applying for this programme

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

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.

PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner (Cardiothoracics)

PgDip/MSc Surgical Care Practitioner pathways

We offer three specialist Surgical Care Practitioner programme pathways at postgraduate diploma and masters level.

Tips for applying to the PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner course

Anna Valente, PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner (Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery) and James Cartwright, PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner (Cardiothoracic Surgery) talk about the programme.

Student insights

I felt I had reached the top of my game and I didn’t see anywhere else that I could develop. This course has put me into a position where I can do something different with the skills that I’ve acquired.
Wayne Johnson, PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner (Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery)

Career opportunities

Our MSc/PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner will equip you to perform as an advanced practitioner that provides surgical and clinical care across the entire patient journey from the pre-admission clinic to the operating theatre to post-surgery ward care.
You’ll both work autonomously and collaboratively as part of the multi-disciplinary team.
<p>Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust<br></p>

Student feedback

"The PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner (Cardiothoracic Surgery) programme helped me develop my basic and specialist knowledge and skill in carrying out the clinical and practical aspects of being a surgical care practitioner. In the future I would like to help expand the SCP role in practice and also help to enhance patient experience."

Mariel Santos, PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner (Cardiothoracic Surgery) student 2016/17

<p><b></b>Mariel Santos,&nbsp;PgDip Surgical Care Practitioner (Cardiothoracic Surgery) student 2016/17<b></b></p><p></p><p></p>