Our MSc/PGDip Physician Associate programme provides essential training for entering an exciting new career as a healthcare professional.
This course is suitable for life science graduates or those with significant healthcare experience.
You will receive training in the classroom and experience a wide variety of teaching methods. You will engage in workplace-based learning in NHS Primary and Secondary Care environments, allowing you to develop your skills and knowledge as a healthcare professional in real settings. All curriculum content is delivered in close partnership with practicing clinicians. Our course provides over 100 more clinical hours than the national minimum requirement, with around 350 hours of clinical placements in first year and around 1,350 in second year.
Our teaching staff include a practising physician associate and medical practitioners who are able to support you, not only in your clinical learning, but also in the practicalities of working within the NHS. You will also encounter many of our past graduates on your clinical placements who have gained employment with our placement partners.
The oversight of education and training of physician associates is currently shared by the Department of Health, the Physician Associate Schools Council (PASC) and the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) from the Royal College of Physicians. Graduates who pass the Reading MSc or PGDip programme must then pass the Physician Associate National Certification Examination and then will be able to register with the FPA who maintain the Managed Voluntary Register (PAMVR).
IELTS: 7.5 overall with no element less than 7.0 (or equivalent)
Entry requirements: Normally a good undergraduate honours degree (2.1 or above), or equivalent from a university outside the UK, in a relevant life sciences subject – for example, biological sciences, biomedical sciences, biochemistry, pharmacy, psychology. Applicants with a good lower second-class honours degree (2.2) combined with other relevant practical healthcare skills and experience (or qualifications and experience considered to be equivalent to the above) will also be considered. The application deadline is normally in May; please get in contact for more information.
Application window: Monday 11 January 2021 - 17:00 Friday 14 May 2021 (deadline)
What will you study?
In your first year, half of your time will be spent undertaking clinical placements within the NHS alongside on-going learning at the university. You will gain an understanding of the basic medical sciences (anatomy, biochemistry, histology, genetics, microbiology, pathology, physiology) together with the principles of patient consultation.
Your second year will build on your core knowledge, integrating academic learning with block rotational clinical placements. You will be supported to exercise initiative and personal responsibility, undertake decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations and continue to develop the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.
Throughout your studies you will complete formative of knowledge and its application to clinical scenarios. Summative assessments will include written examinations, such as multiple-choice questions, and Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE). These assessments will prepare you for the Physician Associate National Certification Examination, which takes the same format.
If you opt for the MSc you will be required to complete the "Research methods" and "Research project" modules. This research should be carried out in the workplace with support from research staff at the university.
How much will it cost?
New UK/EU students: £9,000 (PGDip) per year / £9,500 (MSc) per year
New international students: £18,760 (PGDip) per year / £19,760 (MSc) per year
New international students
International (non EU) applicants: Please note that (due to UK Home Office rules on placements) the MSc programme is open ONLY to international applicants who already have the right to work in the UK. That is, the University is NOT able to provide Tier 4 Visa sponsorship for this programme.
These course fees cover the cost of your tuition. This course will require you to travel to placements in primary and secondary care settings throughout the programme and you will need to fund your own travel. You will need to have a professional standard stethoscope, these cost approximately £90-£160. The Physician Associate National Certification Examination takes place outside of Reading and will therefore incur additional travel expenses.
Health Education England have agreed a single, national funding model for Physician Associates. Students joining our PA programme in 2019 will receive:
A training grant of £5,000 per student. This payment will be paid in two instalments (£2,500 per annum) via the University of Reading. This payment can be used against course fees, travel or similar costs incurred during the programme.
The fees given are for entry in the academic year starting in September 2021, and will be confirmed in your offer letter. You can find more information on fees and funding, including for part-time study, through our dedicated fees and funding page.
What career can you have?
A Physician Associate (PA) is a healthcare professional trained in the medical model who works as a member of a medical team under the supervision of a doctor or surgeon in a wide variety of workplaces (including GP practices, community health services and all types of hospital care). PAs support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients and are trained to perform a number of roles including:
taking medical histories
analysing test results
developing management plans
The PA role is flexible and is being developed across the NHS to meet major staffing strategies. A lack of trained PAs in the UK means that career prospects for graduates are excellent. The predicted growth of the PA role across the NHS to fill an important resource gap indicates strong continued employment prospects for graduates.