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MSc Physician Associate Studies

Develop the clinical skills and knowledge to become a physician associate and assist in the diagnosis, management and care of patients, undertaking extensive clinical training across the full range of medical specialities.

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      • Professional Practice Placements


      Course Length: 2 Years Full-Time
      Start Dates: September 2022, September 2023
      Subjects: Medicine
      Location: Edge Hill University

      Please note, this course is closed to further applications for September 2022 entry.

      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.

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      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.


      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.

      Learning Resources

      The Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre offers a variety of simulated environments from home, through primary and emergency care, to secondary care and beyond. The flexible and adaptable facilities include a ward environment, operating theatre, an anatomy and ultrasound resource centre, a ‘Better at Home’ suite, clinical skills area and consultation rooms.

      You will benefit from access to a wide variety of healthcare equipment, as well as a range of full-body patient simulators that can breathe, talk, have pulses and can simulate a wide range of symptoms and clinical conditions. This will enable you to undertake practical scenarios in realistic settings, providing ideal preparation for professional practice placements and future employment.


      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.


      Expand All

      Year 1

      Compulsory modules:

      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%.

      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%.

      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%.

      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%.

      Year 2

      Compulsory modules:

      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%.

      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%.

      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%.

      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%.

      Entry Criteria

      Entry Requirements

      You should have a degree equivalent to UK first-class or second-class honours (2:2 or above) in a science or health related subject. Within your degree you must be able to evidence studying some bioscience or anatomy content. You should also have GCSE English Language 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. Interviews for September 2022 entry will take place virtually via Microsoft Teams.

      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 to gain employment as a Physician Associate. The current cost of the exam is £595-£790 and is subject to change. For confirmation of current fees, please visit www.fparcp.co.uk/examinations/overview.

      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. In the future, physician associates are likely to be regulated by the General Medical Council.

      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 student who will be joining this MSc in academic year 2022/23, the tuition fee will be £9,250 a year.

      EU/EEA and Swiss students who have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, as well as Irish nationals, may be eligible for the UK tuition fee rate.

      Financial Support

      For comprehensive information about the financial support available to eligible UK students joining postgraduate courses at Edge Hill University in academic year 2022/23, together with details of how to apply for potential funding, please view our Money Matters 2022/23 guide at www.edgehill.ac.uk/postgradfinance2022.

      EU/EEA and Swiss students who have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme may be eligible to apply for financial support. Irish nationals should ordinarily apply to Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). Please see www.edgehill.ac.uk/eufinance for further details.

      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 eligible students can expect to receive confirmation of scheduled payment dates during enrolment.


      How to Apply

      Apply online through UCAS at www.ucas.com.

      Visit www.edgehill.ac.uk/applyucas to find out more about the application process.

      Further information for international students about how to apply is available at www.edgehill.ac.uk/applyinternational.

      Should you accept an offer of a place to study with us and formally enrol as a student, you will be subject to the provisions of the regulations, rules, codes, conditions and policies which apply to our students. These are available at www.edgehill.ac.uk/studentterms.

      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 www.edgehill.ac.uk/opendays.

      Alternatively, if you are unable to attend an open day, you can find out more about our full range of events for prospective students, including campus tours and virtual activities, at www.edgehill.ac.uk/visitus.

      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 www.edgehill.ac.uk/postgradprospectus.

      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 www.edgehill.ac.uk/international or email [email protected] with any queries about overseas study.

      Course Changes

      Expand All This tab 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. Future material changes will be added here as amends are made to course information.

      30th June 2021 - Change to Entry Requirements

      The requirement that applicants should have a degree equivalent to UK first-class or second-class honours (2:2 or above) in a science or health related subject has been extended to stipulate that within that degree they must be able to evidence studying some bioscience or anatomy content.

      Covid-19 - Physician Associate Studies Essential Information

      Physician Associate Studies Course Statement

      Delivery to consist of at least six hours a week, on average, of onsite teaching supported by 20 hours of online learning comprising synchronous (seminars, tutorials) and asynchronous (lectures, discussion boards) learning activities and academic support. Clinical placements are expected to continue as planned unless there is a change in public health advice.

      Teaching and Learning at Edge Hill University in 2020

      In this video Pro Vice-Chancellor, Lynda Brady, answers your questions and explains how teaching will work when you join us at Edge Hill University in September.

      Campus Facilities at Edge Hill University in 2020

      In this video Pro Vice-Chancellor, Lynda Brady, explains how we’re preparing the campus for your arrival in September and the facilities that will be available.

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