MSc Physician Associate Studies
Please note that this course is now closed to new applications for August 2023 entry.
Page last updated 25 September 2023
This innovative, intensive course will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to become a highly competent physician associate.
Why study this course?
Physician Associates are an invaluable part of the wider multi-professional healthcare team, practicing under the supervision of a doctor to provide care for patients.
We've developed our MSc Physician Associate Studies course in line with professional standards set by the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians. The course will equip you with the broad range of clinical skills, knowledge and professional attitudes required to practice in the medical field.
You'll develop critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills and learn how to take medical histories, perform physical examinations, request and analyse test results, diagnose illnesses and develop treatment and management plans.
Extensive clinical placement opportunities are integral to the course, giving you the chance to gain experience across a range of settings.
Why UWE Bristol?
UWE Bristol provides a specialist healthcare campus which allows you to train alongside other healthcare professionals. You'll benefit from access to state-of-the-art simulation suites, replica wards and consultation rooms, where skills can be practiced in a realistic, controlled clinical environment.
Learn from a dedicated teaching team, comprising healthcare professionals from a range of disciplines, including UK trained and registered Physician Associates.
Where can it take me?
There's a growing demand for Physician Associates across the UK. After qualifying as a Physician Associate, you'll practice as a Band 7 (or equivalent) in your chosen area of employment.
With further training and experience, you may choose to specialise or continue to work in a generalist field, or undertake roles in management, research or teaching.
You will study:
- Foundations in Clinical Medicine 1 (30 credits) - This module will incorporate anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, applied and diagnostic clinical medicine, public health, pharmacology and therapeutics. The module will be delivered through weekly virtual patient cases and will allow you to develop sound clinical reasoning skills.
- Foundations of Physician Associate Practice 1 (30 credits) - This module will focus on clinical and consultation skills. It will involve communication skills, physical examination and procedural skills and allow you to develop as a clinician. Your achievement of core clinical competencies and procedural skills will be documented throughout the module.
- Health and Social Care Research: Methods and Methodology (15 credits)
- Interprofessional Communication and Professional Practice (15 credits)
- Physician Associate Learning in Practice Project. (30 credits).
You will study:
- Foundations in Clinical Medicine 2 (30 credits) - Building on the learning from Foundations in Clinical Medicine 1, this module will give you a comprehensive understanding of the core medical and surgical specialties.
- Foundations of Physician Associate Practice 2 (30 credits) - Building on the skills of Foundations of Physician Associate Practice 1, this module will focus on clinical and consultation skills in acute practice. Your achievement of core clinical competencies and procedural skills will be documented throughout the module.
To achieve the MSc, you must successfully complete all modules, after which, you'll be eligible to sit the UK Faculty of Physician Associates National Examination.
The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we'll inform you.
Learning and Teaching
Teaching is delivered through virtual and face-to-face lectures, small group sessions, practical clinical skills labs, simulation and peer-to-peer learning, as well as a range of web-based resources and e-learning.
Our curriculum uses a problem-based learning approach to encourage direct application of academic theory to clinical practice.
See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.
This course takes place over two years for 45 weeks a year. Learning consists of alternating blocks of campus-based teaching and clinical placements.
We make use of a range of types of assessment, both summative and formative. You'll undertake online and written examinations, clinical case presentations, objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), as well as building a clinical portfolio of evidence of competencies.
See our full glossary of assessment terms.
On graduation, you'll need to pass the The Faculty of Physicians Associates National Certification Examination before you can practice as a Physician Associate in the UK. Once you have passed the National Examination, you're required to register on The Faculty of Physician Associates Managed Voluntary Register.
Over the two years your clinical placements will cover:
- Community medicine: 510 hours
- General hospital medicine: 350 hours
- Front door medicine: 180 hours
- Mental health: 90 hours
- General surgery: 90 hours
- Obstetrics and gynaecology: 90 hours
- Paediatrics (acute setting): 90 hours
Placements are spread across the Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire areas. Any travel involved will be at your own expense.
While studying with us at UWE Bristol, you'll have access to an extensive range of teaching and learning resources.
Glenside Campus Library has a huge selection of books, journals and audio-visual materials including access to specialist health and social care packages.
The Inter-professional Simulation Suite provides excellent opportunities for demonstrating and practicing your professional competencies.
You'll have access to extensive online learning materials, including your own online portfolio of evidence, Pebble Pad, and the Blackboard platform where you'll find learning materials to support the structured teaching elements of the course.
Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.
Get a feel for the Health Professions facilities we have on offer here from wherever you are.
Careers / Further study
UWE Bristol healthcare courses have a strong record of producing students who are successful in gaining relevant work. Because you'll have undertaken placements in the South West, you'll be in a strong position to seek work locally.
- 2:1 in a suitable life-science/health-related subject. Please see more details below.
- Four weeks (120 hours) of work experience in an appropriate patient-facing healthcare setting, primary or secondary care.
- Grade C or above in English and Mathematics, or equivalent. Please note: The University does not accept Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Certificates in Adult Numeracy and Literacy as suitable alternatives to GCSEs.
Academic study should have been completed within five years of commencement of the course and some degrees we consider suitable are below (this list is not exhaustive):
- Life sciences: Anatomy, Biology, Physiology, Human Biology, Neuroscience, Biological Science, Microbiology, Anatomical Science.
- Health sciences: Allied Health Professions (Physiotherapy; Diagnostic Imaging; Radiotherapy; Paramedic Studies; Audiology), Dentistry, Nursing, Operating Department Practice, Optometry, Health Sciences*, Sport and Exercise Sciences.
- Biomedical sciences: Biomedicine/Biomedical Science, Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Science, Medicinal Chemistry, Biochemistry, Medical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering.
*Please note: Transcripts will be reviewed to ensure Anatomy and Physiology level 4 or above have been covered in these degrees. If not provided in the course, applicants will be expected to show evidence of completion of these subjects elsewhere. If you do not have this as part of your degree we would accept this as a standalone/part of another qualification. Your qualification needs to be awarded by an Ofqual registered company and at Level 4 (first year of degree equivalent) or above. UWE Bristol does not recommend or endorse any course for completion of Anatomy at Level 4 or above.
This course is not open to applicants previously enrolled on a Physician Associate/Assistant course or individuals wishing to transfer from other Physician Associate/Assistant courses.
We don't accept deferred applications, and any places we offer will need to be taken within that year.
Due to high demand we encourage you to submit your application by Wednesday 15 March 2023. You can submit your application after this point but please be aware we cannot guarantee to consider late applications.
We'll notify you of your application outcome by 4th April, and if successful, we'll invite you to interview during April/May.
A UK Physician Associate qualification does not currently entitle graduates to work as Physician Associates outside of the UK.
Please note, the Physician Associate qualification may not currently be recognised in some countries
English Language Requirement
Minimum IELTS score of 7.0 overall with a minimum of 7.0 in any section (or equivalent). Please note the University's published list of alternative English Language qualifications.
Other essential criteria
Work experience must have occurred within 18 months prior to starting the course.
The relevance of your work experience will be assessed during the admission process.
Within your application, please address and answer the following two questions:
- How does the role of a Physician Associate fit into the UK healthcare system?
- What is your motivation for becoming a Physician Associate, highlighting details of the experience and personal qualities you would bring to the course?
You must support your application with two satisfactory references, both dated within the last year. One must be a recent academic reference and the other should be either a second academic reference or a relevant professional/employer reference. Your referees should be able to comment on your suitability to undertake the course. You can send these to us after making the initial application.
You must be in good health and up-to-date with all routine immunisations that are required for working in health and social care settings. If you are offered a place on this course, you will be required to complete a questionnaire and must be prepared to undergo a medical examination. You will also be required to confirm your status in respect of a number of infectious diseases (tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, varicella, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV antibodies) and be prepared to have all required vaccinations. Please note that the list of required vaccinations may change, in response to advice from the Department of Health. If your vaccinations are not up-to-date, this will affect your ability to continue on your course. If you have any concerns with regards to vaccinations please raise this at the point of application.
Disclosure of criminal background
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 doesn't apply and all convictions, including those which are spent, must be disclosed. Applicants who are offered a place must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and will be required to complete a Disclosure Application Form. All information will be treated in confidence and only taken into account when absolutely necessary. UWE Bristol will initiate this process by contacting prospective students directly.
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview day. This will be conducted virtually or face-to-face.
If you are a current or past member of a registered professional body, please provide details with your application.
How to apply
The course is aimed at graduates of a life or health sciences degree with experience of healthcare and patient contact.
We acknowledge that as graduates you add life experience and context to your learning on the Physician Associate course, and the course encourages this mature approach towards creating more rounded professionals.