Physician Associate MSc

This course is in clearing with spaces available


Course options

No Course options available for this course.

Course modules

NOTE: Modules are subject to change. For those studying part time courses the modules may vary.

Your future career

Your future career

Physician Associates are a new type of healthcare professional that has a broad, generalist medical education. In order to work as a Physician Associate you will need to pass your university course and then in addition you will need to pass a professional national exam. This consists of a theory and a practical section. You will then need to join a Managed Voluntary Register of Practitioners. You will work alongside GPs, physicians and surgeons to provide clinical care as part of an integrated multidisciplinary team either in a hospital or in the community. Physician Associates are dependent practitioners, who as they gain experience and skills can learn to work autonomously, but will always work under the supervision of a fully trained and experienced doctor. They bring a range of new professional talent to add to the existing skill mix within clinical teams. Physician Associates provide a stable, generalist section of the clinical workforce which will increasingly help to ease the clinical workforce pressures that the NHS increasingly faces.

Explore the different career options you can pursue with this degree and see the median salaries of the sector on our Career Coach portal.

How we support your career ambitions

We offer dedicated careers support, and further opportunities to thrive, such as volunteering and industry networking. Our courses are created in collaboration with employers and industry to ensure they accurately reflect the real-life practices of your future career and provide you with the essential skills needed. You can focus on building interpersonal skills through group work and benefit from our investment in the latest cutting-edge technologies and facilities.

Career Zone

Our dedicated and award-winning team provide you with careers and employability resources, including:

  • Online jobs board for internships, placements, graduate opportunities, flexible part-time work.
  • Mentoring programmes for insight with industry experts 
  • 1-2-1 career coaching services 
  • Careers workshops and employer events 
  • Learning pathways to gain new skills and industry insight

Mental Wealth programme

Our Professional Fitness and Mental Wealth programme issues you with a Careers Passport to track the skills you’ve mastered. Some of these are externally validated by corporations like Amazon and Microsoft.

Our Mental Wealth programme

We are careers first

Our teaching methods and geographical location put us right up top

  • Enterprise and entrepreneurship support 
  • We are ranked 6th for graduate start-ups 
  • Networking and visits to leading organisations 
  • Support in starting a new business, freelancing and self-employment 
  • London on our doorstep

What you'll learn

In year one you will study a wide range of clinical sciences, including anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, microbiology and pharmacology, with a focus on how these are linked to human health and disease. These sciences will then be closely linked to the associated clinical presentations of a range of acute and chronic common medical conditions and injuries, presenting in patients. The scientific basis of these conditions will be described and linked to the symptoms and signs of disease. You will study a range of conditions commonly seen both in the community and in hospitals.

You will study the above topics for the following body systems:

  • Respiratory
  • Vascular
  • Cardiac
  • Renal
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Neurological

You will then extend your study of clinical sciences and learn how these are closely linked to the associated clinical presentations of a range of acute and chronic common medical conditions and injuries, presenting in patients, including paediatric and pregnant patients. 

You will study the above topics for the following body systems:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Ophthalmology
  • ENT
  • Endocrine and Metabolic
  • Dermatology
  • Haematological
  • Infections
  • Paediatrics
  • Female health

You will also explore and develop the skills of evidence-based clinical practice that form the core of the clinical skills that you will use professionally as a Physician Associate. You will learn the best ways to gather accurate and appropriate information about your patient and how to perform physical examinations of your patient. You will study the best use of investigations, like blood tests and x-rays to help diagnose illness and you will also learn basic clinical procedures such as measuring blood pressure, heart rate, taking blood or using oxygen. You will then go on to learn and demonstrate effective communication skills for working with your patients and the multidisciplinary clinical team that you will work with. You will also learn how to interpret the results of investigations such as blood tests, x-rays, CT and MRI scans so they can be utilised to diagnose your patient and work out a treatment plan.

You will go on to apply the skills you have learnt to be able to carry out basic core procedures such as venepuncture and oxygen therapy. As you become more confident, you will practise your new skills in a safe setting with clinical simulation, using the same procedures and equipment that is used in hospitals or in the community. This work will enable you to perfect and extend your range of clinical skills so that when you enter clinical placements you can be safe and confident in your level of knowledge, but know the point at which you need to seek help from senior colleagues.

In term two you will continue to develop and enhance the clinical skills of those evidence-based clinical and professional skills and develop best practice for history taking, clinical examination as well as the use of investigations and basic procedures. You will then go on to learn about utilising these skills in paediatric and pregnant patients. In addition, you will explore current guidelines for emergency management and resuscitation. You will now learn how to take a focused history from a patient, and further skills for focused clinical examinations and the reasoned prioritisation and interpretation of findings from investigations. You will then go on to apply the skills you have learnt to be able to carry out further core procedures such as cannulation, arterial blood gas, infusions, advanced oxygen therapy, suturing and then use your skills and these procedures to learn about and practice emergency management guidelines and resuscitation skills.

To ensure deeper learning in your clinical topics you will undertake clinical simulation scenarios in a multidisciplinary team setting to extend your skills on how to manage adult, paediatric and pregnant patients for a range of acute and chronic conditions. You will also learn the ABCDE approach for managing emergency conditions and also learn how to perform Basic and Intermediate life support.

As part of the course, you will also study Public Health which is the study of the 'causes of the causes' and the many drivers behind illness and health in our society and their contribution to major global health issues. You will explore three key healthcare areas, public health and the psychosociology of health and mental health. Your public health learning will start with a consideration of wellbeing and definitions of health progressing to looking at how people try to keep healthy. Moving on you will consider the important topics surrounding why people seek healthcare input, looking at economic and behavioural aspects of healthcare access, barriers and inequalities. Then you will look at the principles of illness prevention and the epidemiological definitions of population health. As part of your study of epidemiology, you will study some real-life local examples of epidemiology and learn to recognise and assess the statistical methods employed. In addition, you will also consider some current topics in global healthcare discussing the variations in access and delivery.

Research has shown that there is a powerful role for psychosocial factors in determining the pattern of illness and health in any population. You will develop a deeper understanding of those sociological factors that contribute to levels of health and illness in a population and relate these to health inequalities. You will then take a further look at health-seeking behaviour, looking this time specifically at sociological determinants and linking this to the issue of achieving behavioural changes, including the difference between concordance and compliance for patients. You will also study common mental health presentations and learn about assessment and patient management in mental health. You will then study those medicolegal aspects that are important in mental health, including learning about mental capacity and its role in patient health.

You will go on to explore and develop the communication and clinical reasoning skills that you will use in clinical practice as a Physician Associate. You will study what is meant by patient safety, understanding and managing clinical risk. You will explore what is best practice in patient-centred communication and shared decision-making in patient assessment and management. Then the process of clinical decision making will be explored and your skills will be extended so that you can work successfully in complex, time-sensitive and uncertain environments focusing on how to work safely, within your abilities and responsibilities and how to recognise and avoid clinical error. You will then go on to study how to work with children and vulnerable people safely and with empathy and you will develop skills to enable you to work successfully with more challenging patients who are either anxious, upset or angry.

You will then apply the skills you have learnt using best practices to become more confident when working in dynamic, complex clinical environments, also learning how to avoid clinical error through good multidisciplinary teamwork. You will study human factors, which are concerned with situational awareness, cognitive and affective biases, coping well with authority and reducing errors due to system and organisational causes. Furthermore, you will be able to practice your good communication and clinical reasoning skills by learning to assess and manage more complex cases in simulation enabling you to become a safe, capable and patient-centred clinician.

In year two you will also have the majority of your clinical placements. You will be going out into full-time work-based clinical placements either in the community and primary care environment or in the hospital, in secondary care. This will enable you to translate the knowledge and skills that you have gained earlier from both a theoretical and simulation perspective, into real-life clinical practice. These studies will also prepare you to be eligible to undertake the Physician Associate National Certification examination which you must pass to be able to practice clinically. Whilst on clinical placement you will work under the supervision and guidance of a clinical supervisor in a range of community or primary care environments. Clinical Placements in primary care will include general practice, hospice care, sexual health and residential and care homes. Whereas clinical placements in secondary care could be in any of these areas:

  • Acute medicine
  • Emergency medicine
  • General Surgery
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology
  • Paediatric medicine
  • Mental health

In secondary care, you could be in follow-up clinics, outpatient clinics, surgical theatres, ward rounds or multidisciplinary meetings. You will be learning with, from and about patients in a clinical setting under supervision. You will be taking patient histories, examining patients, and following a patient journey. You will also need to understand patient medications, how to take and record patient observations, interpret patient investigations, and carry out clinical skills as appropriate. Clinical placements will also prepare you to be eligible to undertake the Physician Associate National Certification examination which you must pass to be able to practice clinically

Whilst on clinical placement you will learn patient assessment, examination and diagnosis in primary care or secondary care. You will be able to use those clinical skills and procedures that you learnt previously in simulation, in the management of real patients under direct supervision. You will experience working in a multi-disciplinary team and be able to put your patient-centred approach into practice, including emergency management guidelines and resuscitation skills. You will work under the supervision and guidance of a clinical supervisor in a range of healthcare environments where you will work through and complete a signed-off skills passport. During this period you will be assessed by clinical supervisors in each clinical placement, throughout the year to develop as a competent practitioner.

Finally, you will study integrated clinical simulation which will enable you to demonstrate the clinical knowledge and skills that you have acquired earlier in the course and enable you to apply these in the context of patient assessment and management in clinical settings, including emergency management and resuscitation. You will undertake this through a mixture of online lectures and simulation, with low-fidelity, hybrid and high-fidelity simulation mannikins and deliberate practice. In this way, you will gradually extend and integrate your theoretical clinical knowledge and practical clinical skills. You will then apply and demonstrate these skills to assess and clinically manage patients safely and competently.

You will practice skills in referring and handing over patients safely and competently to other medical practitioners. You will be able to demonstrate your patient-centred approach and your level of teamwork skills, your knowledge of working in a multi-disciplinary team and your approach to reducing clinical error through a sound understanding of human factors. At this point, you will be ready to complete your course and if you have passed all your modules you will be eligible to sit the Physician Associate National Exam and be able to work clinically in your new profession.

How you'll learn

You'll be taught by a range of staff, who are either medical educators, scientists or work in clinical practice. This will ensure that you develop into safe, competent, reflective, multi-professional and patient-centred clinicians who can work safely under direct or indirect supervision. Each module is designed so that you can acquire the appropriate level of clinical knowledge and skills to support your clinical work.

You will be taught by a combination of interactive online lectures and face-to-face sessions. Many of these sessions will be practical and will involve learning in a simulated clinical setting. When not attending timetabled lectures, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This will typically involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and the UEL VLE Moodle.

Our academic support team provides help in a range of areas - including learning and disability support.

When you arrive, we'll introduce you to your personal tutor. This is the member of staff who will provide academic guidance, be support throughout your time at UEL and who will show you how to make the best use of all the help and resources that we offer.

Each year you will spend around 300 hours of timetabled learning and teaching activities. These may be lectures, workshops, seminars and individual and group tutorials. Contact hours may vary depending on each module.

The approximate percentages for this course are:

  • Year 1: scheduled teaching - 536 hours; guided independent study - 664 hours.

  • Year 2: scheduled teaching - 1746 hours; guided independent study - 554 hours.

Your timetable

Your individualised timetable is normally available to students within 48 hours of enrolment. Whilst we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week between 9.00am and 6.00pm.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally attracts 30 students a year. Lecture sizes are normally 30 students. In the classroom for tutorials or in simulation you will be taught in groups of 5 - 30 students. However, this can vary by module.

How you will be assessed

You will be assessed in various ways as appropriate for each module:

  • Module 1: 50% Theory, 50% Case Study
  • Module 2: 100% Practical
  • Module 3: 50% Theory, 50% Case Study
  • Module 4: 100% Practical
  • Module 5: 60% Group Video, 40% Case Study
  • Module 6: 60% Group Video, 40% Case Study
  • Module 7: 50% Coursework, 50% Poster presentation
  • Module 8: 100% Placement Assessment Document and a Clinical Skills Passport
  • Module 9: 100% 9,000-word dissertation
  • Module 10: 100% Practical

You will receive feedback throughout the course within practical sessions. We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 14 working days of submission.

Campus and facilities

Water Lane, Stratford

Who teaches this course

This course is delivered by School of Health, Sport and Bioscience

The teaching team includes qualified academics, practitioners and industry experts as guest speakers. Full details of the academics will be provided in the student handbook and module guides.