MSc Advanced Clinical Practice (Paediatrics)

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Independent Prescribing

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHAR61001
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Pharmacy
Available as a free choice unit? No


The programme is accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). Those who complete the programme are able to apply to their regulator for annotation as an independent prescriber.

The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills and other attributes detailed by GPhC/NMC learning outcomes.

We have adopted A competency framework for all prescribers (RPS, 2016) as the programme learning outcomes in line with the NMC approach. This offers a logical approach for students who will continue to use the prescribing competency framework to guide the further development and expansion of their practice once qualified. We have also mapped the learning outcomes and assessment strategy to the GPhC’s Standards for the education and training of pharmacist independent prescribers (2019).

The programme is a single 30-credit blended learning module with structured learning activities delivered over four months and all assessments being completed within 17 weeks of the first study day. Students are required to complete 26 days of structured learning activities, including mandatory attendance at workshops and directed study via the Blackboard® virtual learning environment. All students must also complete 90 hours of learning in practice under the supervision of a Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP, pharmacists) or a Practice Assessor (PA) and Practice Supervisor (PS, NMC registrants).


The programme aims to enable students to:

  1. Develop a systematic, evidence-based and critically reflective approach to identifying and addressing development needs associated with independent prescribing.
  2. Critically appraise the ability to meet and further develop the consultation competencies within A competency framework for all prescribers (RPS, 2016).
  3. Critically appraise the ability to meet and further develop the governance competencies within A competency framework for all prescribers (RPS, 2016).
  4. Meet the professional standards set out by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC, pharmacists) or the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC, NMC registrants) to enable an application for registration as an independent prescriber.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes for the unit are recorded under the following headers:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Intellectual skills
  • Practical skills
  • Transferable skills and personal qualities.

Teaching and learning methods

The learning and teaching processes are designed to utilise students’ experience of practice and encourage the development and application of new knowledge through a constructivist approach. A blended learning approach employs flipped teaching methods to deliver knowledge content though e-learning, providing the opportunity for face-to-face sessions to focus on enquiry-based learning and student-centred activities involving peer learning and action-learning sets. Directed learning materials on Blackboard® provide 20 days’ learning activities that students can study flexibly and at their own pace. In combination with a personal learning contract to structure supervised practice learning, students are able to spend more time on developing new knowledge and skills and less time revising and contextualising transferable skills.

Workshop activities include:

  • case studies
  • real life scenarios
  • small group work
  • action-learning sets
  • individual and group reflection
  • simulated patient consultation and examination
  • student presentation
  • peer review and feedback
  • teaching OSCEs

e-Learning processes (hosted in Blackboard®):

  • downloadable PDFs
  • e-learning programmes
  • online discussion forums
  • webinars/screencasts
  • links to external resources≥

The 90-hour period of learning in practice affords the opportunity to develop specific skills, explore the application of knowledge and skills in context, bring together different aspects of the prescribing process into complete episodes of increasingly autonomous care, and to demonstrate the prescribing competencies in practice. It also provides experiences on which to reflect with the feedback of the DPP or PA/PS and peers as well as considering the service user’s feedback.

Knowledge and understanding

Students should be able to:

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of the responsibility of an independent prescriber, be aware of their own limitations and work within their professional competence
  • Demonstrate an ability to recognise and analyse the signs and symptoms of conditions relevant to their area of practice
  • Develop and apply advanced clinical assessment skills in order to inform a working diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan
  • Develop and apply advanced clinical assessment skills in order to monitor response to therapy and evaluate the use of a clinical management plan in practice
  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the principles of pharmacology and apply these principles to their own practice
  • Analyse the impact of individual patient variation on drug handling
  • Demonstrate the ability to perform advanced drug calculations

Intellectual skills

Students should be able to:

  • Recognise and demonstrate the attributes and behaviours essential to build and maintain effective relationships with patients and carers
  • Critically evaluate a range of patient-centred consultation models and apply effective patient-centred consultation to practice
  • Critically review and appraise a shared approach to decision making by assessing the patients’ need for medicines, taking into account their needs, wishes and values
  • Recognise internal and external factors that influence prescribing decisions and consider management strategies for these.

Practical skills

Students should be able to:

  • Select and use diagnostic aids relevant to the conditions for which the practitioner intends to prescribe, including monitoring response to therapy
  • Demonstrate advanced skills in conducting a consultation, including taking an  accurate history (including a medication history) in a systematic and responsive manner
  • Maintain accurate, effective and timely records to ensure other prescribers and health care staff are appropriately informed.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students should be able to:

  • Identify and evaluate a range of reflective models and analyse their effectiveness in supporting their learning needs
  • Identify learning opportunities to fulfil CPD needs and maintain a critical and reflective record of CPD activity
  • Develop advanced communication and relationship building skills to consult appropriately with patients and their carers.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 25%
Portfolio 25%
Oral assessment/presentation 25%
Practical skills assessment 25%

Feedback methods

Students are provided with details of assessment criteria before completing assessments along with guidance on how to approach the assessments and examples from former students.

Formative assignments are scheduled at intervals to allow students time to create these pieces of work at a logical point during the course and gain feedback from their Academic Assessor. Scheduling the assignments allows the programme team the opportunity to provide feedback much faster than the university standard of 15 working days; it is commonly seven working days in recognition of the course being only four months long. All formative feedback is marked in line with the summative marking schemes and is balanced and constructive.

Students may also request ad hoc feedback from their Academic Assessor. We encourage students to negotiate this in advance to increase the chance of the feedback being swifter than the university standard. They are also advised that Academic Assessors will not comment on more than one piece of work at once or on the same piece of work more than twice.

Students receive personalised formative feedback following the summative assessments after they have been independently second-marked, moderated where necessary and ratified by the Exam Board.

Recommended reading

Available as e-books/e-journals via Reading Lists Online

Clinical Reasoning

Nicola Cooper & John (John Patrick James) Frain (eds.) (2016) ABC of clinical reasoning . Chichester, West Sussex, UK¿;, Wiley Blackwell/BMJ Books.


Ritter, J. (2020) Rang and Dale’s pharmacology . Ninth edition. R. J. (Rod J.) Flower, Graeme Henderson, Yoon Kong Loke, David J. MacEwan, et al. (eds.). Edinburgh, Elsevier.

Waller, D. (2018) Medical pharmacology & therapeutics . Fifth edition. Anthony P. Sampson (ed.). Edinburgh, Elsevier.

Greenstein, B. (2009) Trounce’s clinical pharmacology for nurses . 18th ed. Dinah. Gould, J. R. (John Reginald) Trounce, & J. R. (John Reginald). Trounce (eds.). Edinburgh¿;, Churchill Livingstone.

Neal, M.J. (2015) Medical pharmacology at a glance . Eighth edition. Chichester, West Sussex, UK¿;, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Clinical Skills

Graham Douglas, E. Fiona Nicol, & Colin (Colin Ernest) Robertson (eds.) (2013) Macleod’s clinical examination. Thirteenth edition. [Online]. Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. Available from: OVP.

Tortora, G.J. (2011) Principles of anatomy & physiology . 13th edition. Bryan Derrickson & Gerard J. Tortora (eds.). Hoboken, New Jersey, Wiley.

Moore, K.L. (2014) Moore clinically oriented anatomy . 7th ed., International ed. Arthur F. Dalley, A. M. R. Agur, & Keith L. Moore (eds.). Philadelphia, Pa.¿;, Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

General Prescribing in Practice

Charlotte Barker (2019) Prescribing Medicines for Children. 1st Edition. Mike Sharland, Mark Turner, & Charlotte Barker (eds.). [Online]. London, UK¿:, Pharmaceutical Press.

Dilyse. Nuttall, Jane. Rutt-Howard, & ProQuest (Firm) (eds.) (2011) The textbook of non-medical prescribing. Oxford¿;, Wiley-Blackwell.

Molly. Courtenay & Matt. Griffiths (eds.) (2010) Independent and supplementary prescribing¿: an essential guide . 2nd ed. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Penelope Mary. Franklin (ed.) (2017) Non-medical prescribing in the United Kingdom . [Online]. Cham, Springer. Available from: doi:10.1007/978-3-319-53324-7.

Critical Reflection

Rolfe, G. (2011) Critical reflection in practice¿: generating knowledge for care . 2nd ed. Melanie. Jasper, Dawn. Freshwater, & Gary. Rolfe (eds.). Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Fook, J. (2007) Practising critical reflection a resource handbook . Fiona. Gardner (ed.). Maidenhead, Open University Press.

Cottrell, S. (2017) Critical thinking skills¿: effective analysis, argument and reflection . Third edition. London, Macmillan Education/Palgrave.

Evidence Based Practice

Greenhalgh, T. (1997a) How to read a paper: Assessing the methodological quality of published papers. BMJ. [Online] 315 (7103), 305–308. Available from: doi:10.1136/bmj.315.7103.305.

Greenhalgh, T. (1997c) How to read a paper. Papers that report drug trials. T (correspondence author) Greenhalgh & T (record owner) Greenhalgh (eds.). BMJ (Clinical research ed.). 315 (7106), 480–483.

Greenhalgh, T. & Taylor, R. (1997) How to read a paper: Papers that go beyond numbers (qualitative research). BMJ. [Online] 315 (7110), 740–743. Available from: doi:10.1136/bmj.315.7110.740.

Greenhalgh, T. (1997e) How to read a paper¿: getting your bearings (deciding what the paper is about). BMJ. [Online] 315 (7102), 243–246. Available from: doi:10.1136/bmj.315.7102.243.

Greenhalgh, T. (1997b) How to read a paper: Statistics for the non-statistician. II: “Significant” relations and their pitfalls. BMJ. [Online] 315 (7105), 422–425. Available from: doi:10.1136/bmj.315.7105.422.

Greenhalgh, T. (1997d) How to read a paper. Papers tha

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment practical exam 1
Assessment written exam 2
eAssessment 12
Practical classes & workshops 45
Work based learning 90
Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Dianne Bell Unit coordinator

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