MSc Physician Associate Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course description

Physician associates first joined the NHS workforce over ten years ago and are now employed throughout the UK in increasing numbers.

Physician associates are permanent members of the medical team, responsible for performing physical examinations, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests and recommending therapy. The role of physician associates is increasingly important within the healthcare workforce and individuals with this qualification are in demand.

Our PGDip/MSc in Physician Associate Studies aims to develop the skills required to become an effective practitioner through a combination of teaching and practical placements.

You will be trained according to the medical model and will work in collaboration with doctors and other healthcare professionals to diagnose and manage a wide range of common and complex diseases. Students registered for the Masters programme will also undertake a clinically relevant research project in their second year of study.

A range of benefits are provided by the University to support your career development:

  • you may be eligible to receive some financial support during the course;
  • Year 2 provides you with an elective period and the opportunity to develop your skills through working abroad;
  • develop your skills with the help of our excellent tutors and state-of-the-art clinical teaching facilities;
  • integrated training in prescribing safety (in anticipation of prescribing rights for physician associates) and communication skills is provided;
  • the University will provide iPads with access to a range of online resources, which are essential during placements;
  • at the end of the course, our 'preparation for practice' placement allows you to specialise in a specialty of your choice.


You will develop:

  • intellectual skills in problem solving and enquiry, critical analysis, logical thinking, clinical reasoning and reflection;
  • your knowledge and understanding of relevant principles and practical approaches in the clinical, behavioural and social sciences;
  • patient-centred consultation skills;
  • advanced clinical skills;
  • a detailed knowledge of pharmacology and prescribing safety (in anticipation of changes to legislation to allow physician associates to prescribe).

Special features

Extensive clinical experience

You will receive over 1,600 hours of clinical training, including placements across the full range of medical specialities at teaching hospitals and in community settings. Placement time is split between the first and second years of the programme and you'll spend 24 weeks on placement during year one rather than having to wait until the second year to get hands-on clinical experience.

Work abroad

You have the opportunity to develop your skills by working abroad in Year two. Travel bursaries are available to support this.

Specialist course

This course has been developed as a stand-alone postgraduate taught programme with a graduate-entry ethos and a fully integrated course structure based on clinical presentations rather than body systems.

Excellent teaching

We use a combination of problem based learning (PBL) tutorials, small group teaching and lectures to deliver a course with very high levels of staff-student contact time and excellent student satisfaction. The curriculum is delivered through a mixed methods approach incorporating early clinical skills training, reflective practice, clinical immersion, a short elective, distance learning, and a dedicated 'preparation for practice' block.

Whole Body Anatomy

You will learn about the intricacies of the human body through whole body prosection teaching in our anatomy facilities.

Excellent reputation

We have an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, including close links with the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre - the only academic health science centre outside of the south-east.

Coursework and assessment

We use a structured programme of formative and summative assessments to examine the knowledge and skills that you must develop. You will undertake written and OSCE examinations at the end of each year and will maintain a portfolio for personal and professional development (PPD).

Course unit details

The course is non-modular, providing you with an opportunity to develop and consolidate skills throughout each year of the course.

Taught content is delivered in blocks of study of increasing complexity alongside the two longitudinal themes of Personal and Professional Development (PPD) and Consultation Skills (CS), with assessment periods at the end of each year. Each taught block feeds seamlessly into the next and all components of the programme are compulsory.

You have the option of spending an elective period in a speciality of your choosing.

Course content for Year 1

The first year of the course begins with a four-month period of intensive study where you will develop your understanding of the essential basic and clinical sciences that facilitate safe and effective practice.

After this 16-week taught block, you will rotate through a series of medical and surgical placements, each incorporating a short period of university-based teaching.

The curriculum is built around a core content of common clinical situations that are then organised according to their relative complexity. The content of each taught block is delivered using a problem-based learning (PBL) approach through the study of clinical cases/scenarios.

Each case integrates elements of the taught content and you will learn about and reflect upon the related biomedical, behavioural and population sciences appropriate to the case.

PBL is supported by small group teaching, lectures and workshops to form a truly integrated curriculum with very high levels of contact time.

Course content for Year 2

The second year of the course provides more advanced specialist instruction in the core medical and clinical sciences alongside a comprehensive programme of clinical reasoning to prepare you to sit your national postgraduate examinations.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Physician Associate - Quality and Evidence MEDN60030 30 Mandatory
Quality and Evidence Project MEDN60040 30 Mandatory

Course collaborators

This course is part of a wider collaboration across the north-west. We work in partnership with Health Education England and other universities across the region.


You will have access to medical facilities at the University (similar to students studying the Medicine MBChB course) with a focus on clinical teaching and highly advanced clinical simulation.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email:

CPD opportunities

Elements of the course will be available as CPD, including our revision package for OSCE and MCQ examinations. These opportunities may be of interest to those sitting the national examinations for recertification or those sitting for the first time. Please contact us for further information.