MSc Physician Associate Studies

  • Professional Practice Placements


Course Length:2 Years Full-Time
Start Dates:September 2020
Department:Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine
Location:Edge Hill University
  • Gain the clinical skills and knowledge to become a physician associate and assist in the diagnosis, management and care of patients;
  • Undertake extensive clinical training across the full range of medical specialities;
  • Become a vital part of the healthcare workforce in hospitals and primary care settings.

Physician associates provide patient care under the direct supervision of a doctor. They have responsibility for interviewing and examining patients, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and making decisions about patient management and therapy. Over the last 10 years, physician associates have been employed throughout the UK in increasing numbers. There is great demand for newly qualified professionals in this emerging role within the NHS in both acute and primary care.

This programme equips you with the skills and knowledge to become an effective practitioner in this innovative professional healthcare role. A combination of teaching and practical placements will enable you to gain expertise in medical history taking, clinical examinations, analysing test results, clinical reasoning and diagnosis, and the development of evidence-based patient management plans. You will graduate as a flexible and adaptable clinician ready to sit the national exam set by the Faculty of Physician Associates, successful completion of which enables you to apply to be listed on the Managed Voluntary Register (MVR) of physician associates.

In Depth

What will I study?

The programme uses a scaffolding approach to introduce fundamental concepts for four key themes, progressively building on these foundations through critical application to practice.

Increasingly complex medical conditions and different areas of speciality will be introduced, while the physician associate role will also be placed within its multidisciplinary context.

The four central themes of the programme are:

  • Clinical Research – you will explore the fundamental stages of research design, analysing different research strategies and methodologies for conducting research, as well as focusing on the reporting of findings. A clear understanding of the research process is central to equip you with the skills and understanding required for the critical interpretation of evidence;
  • Personal and Professional Development – a focus on your personal and professional development will equip you with the underpinning knowledge regarding professional values, ethics and behaviours which are essential for effective patient care and inter-professional working. Communication, non-discriminatory practice, safeguarding and professional regulation will also be covered, including their application to decision-making in complex cases and the support of vulnerable patient groups;
  • Clinical Science – the underpinning scientific theory and concepts for the presentation of common diseases will reveal the fundamental principles underlying appropriate investigative techniques and management strategies. You will learn how to critically describe and explain the structure and function of specific body systems, discover the pathological processes which indicate the signs and symptoms of associated commonly presenting clinical conditions, and analyse approaches to their clinical and pharmacological management;
  • Translation to Practice – a series of clinical practice placements will equip you with the fundamental skills and knowledge required to deliver holistic care and treatment under defined levels of clinical supervision. You will gain experience of successfully obtaining and completing comprehensive clinical histories of patients, conducting expert physical examinations and developing a detailed series of diagnostic investigations and patient management plans. Reflecting on your ability to provide effective therapeutic communication to patients, you will also apply enhanced clinical reasoning to monitor and identify changes in the patient’s condition and responses to treatment.

How will I study?

The modules on this programme are interlinked and delivered through blended learning. Academic study comprises just under 50% of the course, with the remainder spent on clinical placements. There are 22 weeks of academic teaching each year, with a further 24 weeks per year spent on clinical placements.

The varied approach to teaching and learning includes lectures, video presentations, case-based learning, case study discussions, tutorials, small and whole group discussion, online learning, direct reading, portfolios (including reflections), simulation, clinical skills sessions, and various clinical placements.

You will receive over 1,800 hours of clinical training across the programme, with placements across the full range of medical specialities at teaching hospitals and in community settings. These specialities include general hospital, emergency medicine, General Practice, mental health, paediatrics, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology.

There are three 8-week placements in Year 1 and four six-week placements in Year 2 to enable you to gain extensive hands-on clinical experience. All placements will be arranged for you by the University and aligned to learning outcomes determined by the Competence and Curriculum Framework for physician associates. You will be responsible for travel and parking costs while on placement.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of written assignments, objective structured clinical examinations, short answer questions, multiple choice questionnaires, case studies, e-portfolios, seminar presentations, writing a research proposal and an appraisal of your subsequent research.

Who will be teaching me?

The programme team comprises expert staff who are highly experienced in clinical practice in areas including intensive care, coronary care, forensic mental health, primary care, pharmacology and medical practice.

You will also be taught by associate tutors from primary and secondary care, neurology, paramedic practice, biological sciences and senior healthcare management.

While on placement you will be supported by an educational supervisor (either a consultant or general practitioner depending on the setting) as well as clinical supervisors and the wider multi-disciplinary team.

A Great Study Environment

A doctor with stethoscope talks to two patients and makes notes.The Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine is one of the leading providers of education and training for health and social care professionals in the North West of England.

Offering some of the best facilities for health, social care and medicine students in the country, the outstanding teaching and learning resources include leading edge clinical skills facilities, an 860-seat lecture theatre, and a variety of teaching rooms and social learning spaces.

The faculty is home to a thriving research culture which includes a series of staff and student conference programmes, guest lectures and seminars, as well as active research groups.


Expand All

Year 1

HEA4230Personal and Professional Development (15 credits)

Personal and Professional Development provides you with the broader contextual and professional knowledge required for Physician Associate practice within the UK system of health care delivery. The module will cover background to health and social care context, professional behaviour and identity, healthcare law, theory and communication.

Assessment: Coursework: 100%.

HEA4232Foundations of Clinical Sciences 1 (15 credits)

Foundations of Clinical Sciences 1 delivers the underpinning scientific theory and principles for the presentation of common diseases to explain the fundamental principles of their management. The module will introduce the supporting scientific concepts for practice, including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology and pathophysiology, as well as therapeutic systems of cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, genitourinary (excluding the reproductive system), musculoskeletal and ear, nose and throat (ENT).

Assessment: Written Exam(s): 100%.

HEA4234Translation to Practice 1 (30 credits)

Translation to Practice 1 equips you with fundamental skills and knowledge to deliver holistic care and treatment within primary and secondary care environments, under defined levels of clinical supervision. The module provides the underpinning foundation for you to develop skills in patient assessment, history taking, physical examination, differential diagnosis and interpretation of diagnostic tests. You will develop skills linked to disorders of major body systems such as cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, genitourinary (not reproductive), neuromuscular and ear, nose and throat (ENT).

Assessment: Coursework: 40%, Practical(s): 60%.

HEA4065Clinical Research Part 1: Critical Appraisal (30 credits)

Clinical Research Part 1: Critical Appraisal introduces you to the research process through the recognition of the fundamental stages of research design. Based on the principles of ‘Good Clinical Practice’ and wider health and wellbeing research, you will focus on appraisal of the research question, design, methods, ethical issues, and data management and analysis strategies. In addition, you will be introduced to the principles of critical appraisal and modes of critical analysis in order that knowledge, regarding research design, can be applied to develop appropriate critical appraisal skills.

Assessment: Coursework: 60%, Practical(s): 40%.

Year 2

HEA4231Personal and Professional Development 2 (15 credits)

Personal and Professional Development 2 equips you with advanced professional background knowledge and explores the specific behaviours required for the effective management of more complex patient cases in clinical practice. By exploring the context of practice, you will critically analyse your own role within the current climate of health care provision. The module will cover complex ethical-legal issues, communication, advanced team working, effective resource management, risk management and professional issues.

Assessment: Coursework: 60%, Practical(s): 40%.

HEA4233Foundations of Clinical Sciences 2 (15 credits)

Foundations of Clinical Sciences 2 delivers the underpinning scientific theory for common diseases. The module provides the supporting scientific concepts for practice for common disease presentations to explain the fundamental principles underlying appropriate investigative techniques and management strategies. The module will include anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, microbiology and immunology for a number of medical specialities. These include obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, opthalmology, mental health, skin, breasts, the neuromuscular system, and palliative and end of life care.

Assessment: Written Exam(s): 100%.

HEA4235Translation to Clinical Practice 2 (30 credits)

Translation to Clinical Practice 2 enables you to develop competence, further skills, knowledge and attitudes in the delivery of holistic care within the general medical and general practice clinical settings. Encountering a wider diversity of presenting patient conditions, you will assume an increasing role in the diagnosis and planned management of the patient. The focus of this module is on enhancing integration into the general medical and general practice clinical settings as well as developing your decision-making skills, performing a clinical consultation with finesse and facilitating metacognition in terms of self-awareness of your practice.

Assessment: Coursework: 40%, Practical(s): 60%.

HEA4066Clinical Research Part 2: Developing a Research Proposal (30 credits)

Clinical Research Part 2: Developing a Research Proposal introduces you to the research process including philosophical fundamentals of both quantitative and qualitative traditions and a range of research methodologies. The module will guide you through the crucial stages of developing a research proposal. From conceptualisation of the research question, choosing the most appropriate design, planning methods, addressing ethical issues, identifying data management and data analysis strategies, and planning dissemination, the module will introduce you to various clinical and practitioner research approaches and the necessary considerations to enable a rigorous plan of enquiry.

Assessment: Coursework: 100%.


You can expect to receive your timetable at enrolment. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day or evening of the week.


Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our published course information, however our programmes are subject to ongoing review and development. Changing circumstances may necessitate alteration to, or the cancellation of, courses.

Changes may be necessary to comply with the requirements of accrediting bodies, revisions to subject benchmarks statements, to keep courses updated and contemporary, or as a result of student feedback. We reserve the right to make variations if we consider such action to be necessary or in the best interests of students.

Entry Criteria

Entry Requirements

To join this MSc you should have a degree equivalent to UK first or second class honours (2:2 or above) in a science or health related subject. You should also have GCSE English and GCSE Mathematics at Grade C or Grade 4 or above (or equivalent).

Previous experience of working in healthcare is desirable but not essential. An interview forms part of the selection process.

If you accept an offer from Edge Hill you will need to submit a Declaration of Health in respect of physical and mental fitness and will be required to apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Enhanced Disclosure indicating that you meet the mandatory criteria of ‘Clearance to Work with Children and/or Vulnerable Adults’. Further information will be sent to you after you have firmly accepted an offer.

Career Prospects

What are my career prospects?

Successful completion of this programme will equip you with the skills and knowledge required to undertake the national exam set by the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA). You will need to pass this exam, the current cost of which is £550, to gain employment as a Physician Associate.

Upon passing this exam, you will be eligible to apply to be listed on the Managed Voluntary Register (MVR), hosted by the FPA. Clinical trusts are recommended to hire physician associates from the Managed Voluntary Register (MVR) so it is strongly recommended that you seek this recognition.

Having completed these steps, you will find yourself well placed to gain employment as a physician associate working in general hospitals, emergency medicine, mental health, surgical settings and primary care.


Tuition Fees

If you are a prospective UK or EU student who will be joining this programme in academic year 2020/21, the tuition fee will be £18,500 for the entire programme. This will be charged at £9,250 per annum.

Financial Support

For comprehensive information about the financial support available to eligible UK and EU students joining postgraduate courses at Edge Hill University, together with details of how to apply for potential funding, please view our Money Matters 2020/21 guide at

As an MSc Physician Associate Studies student, you can expect to receive a contribution of £2,500 per annum from Health Education England to assist with travel costs to your clinical placements. There is no application process. Payment will be administered by the University and students can expect to receive confirmation of scheduled payment dates during enrolment.


How to Apply

Apply online through Health Education England (North West).

Visit to find out more about the application process.

Visit Us

If you are considering applying to study at Edge Hill University, the best way to gain an insight into student life is to discover our stunning campus for yourself by attending an open day. You can view dates and book your place at

Alternatively, if you are unable to attend an open day, you can find out more about all of our events for prospective students, including monthly campus tours, at

Request a Prospectus

If you would like to explore our full range of taught Masters degrees, MBA awards and our Masters by Research (MRes) degree before you apply, you can order a postgraduate prospectus at

Get in Touch

If you have any questions about this programme or what it’s like to study at Edge Hill University, please contact:

If you would like to talk to the programme leader about the course in more detail, please contact:

International students should visit or email with any queries about overseas study.

Course Changes

Expand All This page outlines any material changes to course content, programme structure, assessment methods, entry criteria, and modes of study or delivery, implemented in the past two years.

18th March 2019 - Change to Entry Requirements

GCSE English at Grade C or Grade 4 (or above) added to entry criteria.