student doctor


Physician Associate Studies

This course is open for applications.

About this course

Entry year:
Course code:
Allied Health Professions
Two years
Programme leader:
Mr Alexander Stevens
Key fact:
This innovative, intensive course will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to become a highly competent physician associate.

Page last updated 29 October 2019


Why study this course?

Physician associates work as part of a medical team under the supervision of a doctor. They provide valuable support in diagnosing patients and managing their treatment, and work in both primary and secondary care.

This MSc Physician Associate Studies course has been developed in line with the professional standards expected by the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians. It will equip you with the broad range of clinical skills and knowledge you'll require to thrive in this rewarding role.

You will learn how to take medical histories, perform physical examinations, request and analyse test results, diagnose illnesses and develop treatment and management plans.

The course also includes extensive placement opportunities, with the chance to gain experience across a range of settings.

Why UWE Bristol?

Being based within our specialist campus environment at Glenside means you will be part of a close-knit healthcare community spanning several disciplines.

You'll have access to state-of-the-art simulation suites, replica wards and consultation rooms, where you can practise your skills in a realistic yet controlled medical environment.

The teaching team consists of experienced physician associates, GPs and an advanced nurse practitioner, so your learning will be enhanced by lived experience and real-life understanding of best practice.

Where can it take me?

There is a growing demand for physician associates across the UK, and your skills will be sought-after in a variety of settings.

As a physician associate you will maintain your generalist knowledge throughout your career. This means you'll be able to move between specialisms from cardiology or emergency medicine, to mental health.

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.
  • 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.

To achieve the MSc you must successfully complete all modules, then 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

You'll be taught through a variety of taught lectures, small group sessions, problem-based learning, practical clinical skills, simulated learning and peer-to-peer learning.

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

We will request all student PAs to join the The Faculty of Physicians Associates as student members. Once you have graduated from this programme and you have passed the National Examination, you are required to register on The Faculty of Physician Associates Managed Voluntary Register.


Clinical placements are an essential element of the course, giving you the chance to experience a range of acute and primary care environments.

Over the two years you'll spend time in the following settings:

  • Community medicine: 510 hours
  • General hospital medicine: 180 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 is one of the best health and social care libraries in the UK, with 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 also 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. Becauseyou'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.


Full Time (Two years)

FeesAmount (£)
Home/EU-Full Time-Annual (Per Year) Fee9250
Home/EU-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)1542
International-Full Time-Annual (Per Year) Fee14500
International-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)2417

Indicative Additional Costs

FeesAmount (£)
Additional Course Costs - Full Time - Home/EU - Indicative Maximum Cost Per year482

Supplementary fee information

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. 

Due to high demand we encourage application by 31st 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 healthcare or an allied health profession. This can be in a primary or secondary care setting and must have direct patient contact/interaction, with a minimum length 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. 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 with a member of staff from the academic team and a member of staff from clinical service.

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.

We do not accept deferred entry applications for this course.

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

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