MSc Physician Associate Studies

Entry year
Course code
Allied Health Professions
Two years
Programme leader
Mr Alexander Stevens

Page last updated 10 March 2021


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?

The role of Physician Associate is  flexible and dynamic, allowing you to work in a variety of healthcare settings.

Physician Associates are an invaluable part of the medical and wider multi-professional healthcare team, and practice under the supervision of a doctor to provide care for patients.  

This MSc Physician Associate Studies course has been developed in line with professional standards underwritten by the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians. It will equip you with the broad range of clinical skills, knowledge and professional attitudes required to practice in the medical field.

You will 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.

Integral to the course are extensive clinical placement opportunities, giving you the chance to gain experience across a range of settings.

Why UWE Bristol?

Train at a specialist healthcare campus which will provide you with the unique opportunity to train alongside other healthcare professionals, with access to state-of-the-art simulation suites, replica wards and consultation rooms, where skills can be practiced in a realistic yet controlled clinical environment.

Be taught by a dedicated teaching team, made up of professional experts from a range of disciplines, and led by a UK trained and registered Physician Associate.

Where can it take me?

Physician Associates are versatile medically aligned healthcare professionals, and there is a growing demand for Physician Associates across the UK. Your skills as a generalist will be sought-after across a variety of settings and specialties.

After qualifying as a Physician Associate, you will 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.



Year one

You will study:

Research methods  (15 credits) - This module will develop your critical analysis skills and provide you with an overview of evidence-based healthcare resulting in the formulation of a project proposal for your Masters dissertation.

  • Foundations in Clinical Medicine 1 (30 credits) In this module you will study general adult medicine. This will incorporate clinical medicine, public health, pharmacology and therapeutics. You will learn about anatomy, physiology, pathology, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, investigations and management of medical conditions. The module will be delivered through 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 give you the tools to allow you to develop as a clinician, focussing on your professional development and preparing you for entry into professional practice.Your achievement of core clinical competencies and procedural skills will be documented throughout the module.
  • Evidencing Work-Based Learning for Physician Associates (45 credits) This module straddles both years of study. You will carry out a quality improvement project based on an area of clinical need or interest.

Year two

  • 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 specialties.
  • Foundations of Physician Associate Practice 2 (30 credits) This module will focus on clinical and consultation skills. It will involve communication skills, physical examination and procedural skills, and give you the tools to allow you to develop as a clinician, focussing on your professional development and preparing you for entry into professional 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 will 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 will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching is delivered through lectures, small group sessions, practical clinical skills, simulation and peer-to-peer learning. Learning is also supplemented by 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.

On graduation, you'll be:

  • a safe practitioner under medical supervision in a wide variety of clinical settings, with patients from diverse social and ethnic backgrounds
  • an expert communicator who is empathic in a manner appropriate to a healthcare profession
  • aware of health inequalities and the challenges of working in a multicultural environment
  • aware of the limits of your competence and boundaries of your knowledge
  • experienced in multi-professional working in the context of a team environment
  • adept in the use of communication and information technology skills for healthcare
  • a capable and motivated lifelong learner continually engaged in active professional development
  • understanding of the need to maintain and promote health, as well as to cure or palliate disease, and aware of your obligations to the wider community as well as to individuals
  • able to competently integrate theoretical and clinical learning.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

This course takes place over two years for 45 weeks a year. Learning consists of alternating blocks of university-based teaching and clinical placements.


We make use of a range of types of assessment, both summative and formative. You'll undertake multiple choice question 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.


Professional accreditation

On graduation, you will 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 are 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 over a broad geographical area. Any travel involved will be at your own expense.

Study facilities

While studying with us at UWE Bristol, you will 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 will  have access to extensive online learning materials, including your own online portfolio of evidence, Pebble Pad, and the Blackboard platform where you will find learning materials to support the structured teaching elements of the course.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.


Careers / Further study

UWE 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.

As a qualified physician associate you'll have the opportunity to work in in either primary or secondary care.. Your broad knowledge base will also allow you to switch between specialties if you choose.

On graduation, you will need to pass the UK Faculty of Physician Associates National examination before you can practice as a physician associate in the UK.


Supplementary fee information

Successful applicants to the 2020 intake to the programme, (and who complete all year 1 modules), will have the opportunity to apply for a limited number of sponsorships in year 2. Sponsorship packages will be offered by some of our primary care network and acute care partners to fund student tuition fees in year 2 only. Details of sponsorships and application packs will be made available to successful entrants to the programme.

For information about fees and funding for courses please see our fees and funding pages.

For funding options, please see our funding and scholarships information.


Entry requirements

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.

Minimum of a 2:1 degree or equivalent in a scientific/health related subject and relevant work experience in a primary and/or secondary care setting.

Some examples of degrees we regard as generally suitable are:

  • Life sciences: Anatomy, Biology, Physiology, Human Biology, Neuroscience, Physiology, 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*
  • Biomedical sciences: Biomedicine/Biomedical Science, Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Science, Medicinal Chemistry, Biochemistry, Medical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering.

We will consider applications from applicants with a minimum of 2:1 degree in Psychology/Health Psychology* and Sport and Exercise Science*.

*Please note: Transcripts will be reviewed to ensure adequate levels of biology have been covered in these degrees. Those not meeting the requirements will not be interviewed.

If you have a 2:1 degree (or accepted equivalent) in an alternative subject (eg not in a life/health science subject or related) you will need to complete some life science modules in order to apply for the course. Physiology is essential for those without a life science degree.

A 2:2 in a life sciences degree may be considered with considerable clinical experience. 

Academic study should have been completed within five years of commencement of the course.

This course is not open to applicants previously enrolled on a Physician Associate course or individuals wishing to transfer from other Physician Associate courses.

We do not accept deferred applications, and any offered places will need to be taken within that year intake.

Due to high demand we encourage application by 31 May.

International qualifications

We accept equivalent qualifications gained in other countries.

Please note that there is no international reciprocity for Physician Associate Studies qualifications. Graduates of UK Physician Associate Studies programmes are not eligible to work as Physician Associates in other countries.

Other essential criteria

Work experience

You must demonstrate relevant work experience in a healthcare setting. This can be in a primary or secondary setting and must have direct patient contact/interaction.

Work experience should be a minimum of four weeks.

The relevance of your work experience will be assessed during the admission process.

Personal statement

Within your application, please address and answer the following two questions:

  • how you think the role of a Physician Associate fits into the UK healthcare system
  • your motivation for becoming a Physician Associate, highlighting details of the experience and personal qualities you would bring to the course.


Two satisfactory references must support your application, 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 programme. These can be sent after making the initial application.

Health assessment/declaration/vaccinations

You must be in good health and be up to date with your routine immunisations eg tetanus, diphtheria, polio and MMR. If you are offered a place, 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 and immunisations (tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, varicella, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV antibodies) and be prepared to have all required vaccinations. If your vaccinations are not up to date this will affect your ability to continue on the 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 does not 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. On the day, you will undertake three mini-interview stations, each conducted by a member of the programme team, service user or other clinical colleague, as well as a written exercise.

Professional registration

If you are a current or past member of a registered professional body, please provide details with your application.

As well as meeting the academic entry requirements, you will need to complete the Occupational Health Questionnaire.

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.

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. 

Read more about postgraduate applications.

For further information