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 is a practice-oriented course designed to meet the growing need within the NHS for versatile Physician Associate professionals.

Page last updated 28 June 2018


The MSc in Physician Associate Studies offers you the opportunity to train as a Physician Associate, a new, rapidly-evolving role within the NHS that opens up a diverse range of health-based work opportunities.

A Physician Associate (PA) is defined as someone who is a new healthcare professional who, while not a doctor, works to the medical model, with the attitudes, skills and knowledge base to deliver holistic care and treatment within the general medical and/or general practice team under defined levels of supervision. The role is therefore designed to supplement the medical workforce, thereby improving patient access.

As a PA, you will work under a supervising doctor or surgeon, and be equipped to provide holistic care and treatment within the medical model. This a versatile role, that can cover the primary care setting such as general practice or the acute settings.

"Having followed a role in science and research I found myself wanting to engage with people's lives and use the application of science and medicine to directly contribute towards people's health. I thought about studying medicine but having already pursued a career in science I was aware of the length of time needed and the restrictions this would put on my current life. 

When I discovered the Physician Associate (PA) profession it seemed perfect for me. It enabled me to start a career in healthcare and medicine in an accelerated manner and with a 'real world' focus".

Alex Stevens, practising PA

Intensive and comprehensive

This two-year course is intensive and clinically focused, and involves many aspects of an undergraduate or postgraduate medical degree, focusing on general adult medicine, rather than speciality care.

You will learn to perform a number of roles, including taking medical histories, performing examinations, diagnosing illnesses, analysing test results and developing management plans.

Being based within our specialist campus environment means you will get to study as part of a wider healthcare community and have access to state-of-the-art simulation facilities, where you can practise your skills in a realistic yet controlled medical environment.

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

A rounded approach to learning

The course is aimed at graduates from 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.  



The course is designed to equip you with the knowledge, skills and professional behaviours to work as a Physician Associate (and to have your qualification nationally and internationally recognised), as well as providing you with the personal and intellectual attributes necessary for life-long professional development.

Year one

You will study:

  • Clinical Science (30 credits) - In this clinically focused module you will review the fundamental sciences involved in health and disease states that underpins clinical practice.
  • Health and Social Care Research: Methods and Methodolgy (15 credits) - This module will develop your critical analysis skills and provide you with an overview of evidence based healthcare which will result in the formulation of a project proposal for your masters dissertation.
  • Applied Pharmacology (15 credits) - This module will provide you the basis for prescribing in practice.
  • Foundations in Clinical Medicine 1 (15 credits) - You will learn an overview of adult clinical medicine through system-based cases to develop an approach to dealing with clinical uncertainty via clinical reasoning and diagnostic skills.
  • Foundations in Clinical Medicine 2 (30 credits) - This module will build on adult medicine by incorporating core medical speciality cases whilst continuing to develop your knowledge, skills and attitudes required to practice clinical medicine as a Physician Associate to a high standard. 
  • Dissertation* - You will produce a comprehensive and critical review of the literature on a given clinically relevant topic.

Year two

  • Public Health and Health Promotion for Physician Associates (15 credits) - You will gain a comprehensive understanding of public health to Physician Associate Studies and consider the Physician Associates' role in holistic patient care.
  • Evidencing Contemporary Physician Associate Practice (15 credits) - By utilising the generation of an e-portfolio, this module will help you develop as a reflective practitioner competent in evidencing your own practice and becoming aware of your professional responsibilities in line with the competence and curriculum framework for Physician Associates.
  • Dissertation*

*The Dissertation module (45 credits) is completed over Year one and Year two.

To achieve the MSc you must successfully complete all modules, then you will be eligible to sit for the national professional exam.

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

This is a clinically focused course, delivered through a variety of taught lectures, small group sessions, problem-based learning, practical clinical skills, and simulated learning. With an underpinning clinical practice element that runs throughout the two years in both primary and secondary care.

The course will be led by an experienced Physician Associate and a team of healthcare lecturers and GPs. This ensures the strong 'real world' focus of this course and means you can expect the highest quality of teaching and learning.  

You will be trained to 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 determined to act within those limits.
  • Trained in the context of multi-professional working in 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.
  • Trained to integrate theoretical and clinical learning.

See our glossary of teaching and learning terms.

Study time

The course takes place for 45 weeks a year over two years, with 50% of your time spent on theory and the other 50% on clinical practice.


We will make use of a range of types of assessment on the course, including structured clinical exams, essays based on problem-based learning, presentations and a clinical portfolio of evidence.

See our full glossary of assessment terms.


Professional accreditation

We will request all student PAs to join the Royal College of Physicians national voluntary register.


You will undertake a variety of clinical placements, to link the theory you learn to real-life practice.

You will spend the following amount of time in each setting as a minimum:

  • Community medicine: 180 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

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 Interprofessional Simulation Suite provides excellent opportunities for demonstrating and practising 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

On successful completion of the course, you will need to pass an additional national professional exam, to practise as a Physician Associate.

Our healthcare courses have a strong record of producing students who are successful in gaining relevant work. Undertaking placements will mean you will have plenty of potential sources of local work when you finish.

You will also have access to our award-winning careers service while you are studying with us (and for three years after you graduate) through the University careers service.

If you wish to go on to further postgraduate study, you will need to complete a 60 credit dissertation module, to gain a full Masters.


Full Time (Two years)

FeesAmount (£)
Home/EU-Full Time-Annual (Per Year) Fee9500
Home/EU-Full Time-Award Fee19000
Home/EU-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)1583
International-Full Time-Annual (Per Year) Fee12750
International-Full Time-Award Fee25500
International-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)2125

Further information

This course is eligible for the post graduate loan SLC course code: 731920For September 2018 entry, Health Education England, has launched a national funding strategy for all Physician Associate courses in England. Students will receive £5,000 towards tuition fees, split equally across the two years of the course.

 All students will be expected to pay for travel expenses to attend their placements.


This course is eligible for the post graduate loan

SLC course code: 731920

Indicative Additional Costs

FeesAmount (£)
Additional Course Costs - Full Time - Home/EU - Indicative Maximum Cost Per year450
OH/Medical assessment - ONLY charged for missed appointments.30

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

  • Minimum of a 2:1 degree or equivalent in a scientific/health related subject (acceptable subjects listed below)
  • Grade C or above in English Language, 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 GCSE's.

The following list is not exhaustive. All applications will be reviewed. Please note: Extensive experience in the health service may contribute to your application if the above requirements are not fully met.

Life Sciences: Biology, Physiology, Human Biology, Neuroscience, Physiology, Biological Science, Microbiology, Anatomical Science

Health Sciences: Allied Health Professions (Physiotherapy; Diagnostic Imaging; Radiotherapy; Paramedic studies; Audiology), Nursing, Operating Department Practice, Optometry, Health and social care*, Health sciences*

Biomedical Science: Biomedicine/ Biomedical Science; Pharmacy; Pharmaceutical Science; Medicinal Chemistry; Biochemistry; Medical Engineering; Biomedical Engineering

We will be able to 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.

Additional selection criteria

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.

Work Experience - demonstrate relevant work experience in healthcare or an allied health profession. The relevance of work experience will be assessed during the admission process.

Health assessment/declaration/vaccinations. You must be in good health and be up-to-date with your routine immunisations e.g. 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 will initiate this process by contacting prospective students directly.

Interview - 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.

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

Read more about postgraduate applications.

For further information

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