Skip to content


What makes the Physician Associate MSc at Worcester special?

Our postgraduate physician associate course is open to those passionate about meeting the challenges of our modern healthcare sector. We specially train our graduates to support doctors and medical teams in a demanding and fast-paced clinical environment. We will support you as you gain the clinical skills necessary for diagnosing illnesses, managing patients and providing high quality medical care.



Key features

  • 100% graduate employability after completing our course
  • 94% first time pass rate for our graduates in the National Certification examinations (2017)
  • The opportunity to complete a clinical placement in your local community
  • A full-time Master's degree completed over 2 years
  • Our programme was the first Physician Associate master's in the UK

Course philosophy

We aim to develop graduates:

  • who are patient-centred
  • who are safe, competent and reflective
  • are prepared for the National Certification Examination
  • with the tools for a career that will involve professional enquiry and health research
  • to be leaders in healthcare
Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally have GCSE (or equivalent) grade A-C/4 in Maths and English, a minimum of 250 hours of healthcare experience and


  • A minimum of a lower second-class honours degree (2:2) or above in a relevant subject, such as medical, biological or life sciences or other health related subject from a UK university or an overseas equivalent.


  • A minimum of a lower second-class honours degree (2:2) or above in a physical science or engineering subject or social work and appropriate modules in biology passed at a minimum of 55% at QAA levels 5 or 6. E.g. the following two Open University Modules: SK277 - Human Biology; SK320 - Infectious disease and public health; S294 - Cell Biology (with 50% in each module).

Alternative professional qualifications (e.g. DipHE in Nursing, Paramedic Science, ODP) with appropriate professional registration and a minimum of two years post-registration experience may be considered. 

Applicants may be required to submit supplementary details, such as course transcripts and asked to complete a short essay.

Other essential criteria

Demonstrated relevant work experience in healthcare or an allied health profession. The relevance of work experience will be assessed during the admissions process.

Applicants will be required to submit a personal statement as part of the application.

Two satisfactory references must support the 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.

Satisfactory health clearance and an agreement to undergo appropriate blood tests and immunisations against hepatitis B, MMR meningitis, TB and chicken pox.

You will be required to have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (formally a Criminal Records Bureau check).

If you are or have been a member of a registered professional body please provide details with your application submission.

International Students

Due to recent changes in funding from Health Education England, we are no longer able to accept applications from international students.

Book your place at an Open Day

Want to know why so many students love living and studying in Worcester?

Our open days are the perfect way to find out.

Book your place
Course content

What will you study?


Here is an indicative overview of the modules and placements that may be available on this course.

Year One

  • MSPA4021 – Foundation of Clinical Medicine and Surgery – 30 credits

This module aims to develop understanding of the core conditions that can affect adult health, from clinical science and pharmacology to the presentation in primary and secondary care and emergency presentations. This module will make use of a systems-based approach, covering five major body systems. Each week will explore related conditions within that system across health function of anatomy and physiology to the management of injury and disease.

  • MSPA4022 – Foundation of Clinical Practice – 30 credits

This module aims to bring the principles of evidence-based practice together with clinical skills and clinical reasoning to bridge the gap between theory and practice and to prepare students for the placement year. Clinical skills are taught contextually, dovetailed with the topics in MSPA4021, MSPA4023 and MSPA4025. Students will develop the tools that they need to work as effective physician associates in the clinical setting, providing a basis for taking the national certification examination and a career in healthcare.

  • MSPA4023 – Public Health and Primary Care Medicine - 15 credits

This module aims to continue to develop understanding of the core conditions that can affect adult health, from clinical science and pharmacology to the presentation in primary and secondary care and emergency presentations. This module will make use of a systems based approach currently in use. These are predominantly, but not exclusively, conditions seen and/or managed in primary care (including A&E and Minor Injuries Units).

  • MSPA4024 – Research Methods in Health – 15 credits

This module aims to develop the students’ in research methods and research project management, preparing students both to undertake the dissertation in year two, but also to engage in practice-based research when qualified. It introduces the core elements of research methods, including statistics, qualitative and quantitative methods, and research ethics, developing research ideas and managing data.

  • MSPA4025 – Clinical Specialities – 15 credits

This module aims to develop understanding of the core conditions that can affect sexual health, mental health across the life course, women’s and children’s health, across primary and secondary care settings, with particular attention paid to public health.

Year Two

  • MSPA4026 – Clinical Placements – 30 credits

This module allows students to translate knowledge and skills from a theoretical and simulation perspective into clinical practice and aims to prepare students to be graduate Physician Associates eligible to undertake the National Certification examination and practice clinically. Students will work under the supervision and guidance of their clinical supervisor in a range of healthcare environments across our placement sites in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Students will work through a skills passport and will be assessed by mentors throughout the year to develop as competent practitioners. 

  • MSPA4030 – Dissertation – 45 credits

This module aims to develop skills in research that will develop graduate Physician Associates able to engage in practice based research or provide a basis for future academic study. The dissertation focuses on an extended piece of work that explores an aspect of clinical practice, healthcare policy, and public health, sociology applied to healthcare or medical education, however, this needs to be an area in which the University can realistically provide supervision in. This maybe a library-based project or involve data collection.


Top-up route

If you are already qualified and you're hoping to top-up from PGDip to the MSc, please see our information on the top-up route.

Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

The University places emphasis on enabling students to develop the independent learning capabilities that will equip you for lifelong learning and future employment, as well as academic achievement. A mixture of independent study, teaching and academic support through the personal academic tutoring system enables you to reflect on progress and build up a profile of skills, achievements and experiences that will enable you to flourish and be successful. This is especially important at level 7 - master's level. As a graduate of this course you will be working in complex situations that require was reasoned approaches to be taken, often when dealing with uncertainty in the clinical environment.


You are taught through a combination of structured lecturers, clinical simulation, Camtasia with supporting seminars, case based learning, directed and independent study, group and individual tutorials, with the additional support of e-learning strategies using the virtual learning environment. There will be input from other agencies, service users and professionals as appropriate.

A particular feature of the programme is the opportunities for clinical skills and simulated learning including role play, 'hands on' practical skills sessions using a range of simulation manikins. Formative feedback on performance is provided to facilitate safe and effective support for essential skills development, in state of the art simulation suites, replicating hospital and community practice learning environments.

Practice learning experiences are in primary and secondary care environments, including GP practices, hospitals, hospices, community hospitals and other out-patient and community settings. In the pre-clinical phase of the course you will undertake one-day-a-week placements in primary care, A&E and out-patient departments from January to August. These are based predominantly in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, but may include Gloucestershire.

In the second year you must complete 1,600 hours of clinical placements, working 37.5 hour weeks and returning to the University every four weeks for an academic in-day on a Friday. You will be assigned to an acute hospital Trust as a base, with community and primary care placements in the vicinity. However, some travel may still be involved. Base Trusts are currently in Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Dudley. The duration of each of the specialities is set out by the RCP Faculty of Physician Associates as follows:

General Hospital Medicine: 350 hours
Community Medicine: 510 hours
Front Door Medicine: 180 hours
General Surgery: 90 hours
Mental Health: 90 hours
Obstetrics and Gynaecology: 90 hours
Paediatrics: 90 hours
Other specialities: 200 hours

In addition, meetings with personal academic tutors are scheduled on at least 4 occasions in the first year and three occasions in each of the other years of a course. Whilst on placement you will be visited in placement by a member of the teaching team and discuss your placements off-site with personal academic tutors.

Contact time

The RCP Faculty of Physician Associates specifies a minimum of 1,600 hours of theory teaching must be completed to be eligible to take the National Certification Exam upon graduating. Therefore all classes are mandatory and you must attend a minimum of 80%.

In a typical week in the pre-clinical phase for full-time students will be teaching 09:30-16:30 Monday to Thursday and 09:30-12:30 on Friday. There will be directed study every forth Friday. From September to December, Tuesdays will be clinical skills, from January to August you will be in clinical placement.

In the clinical phase (year two) you will complete 1,600 hours of clinical placement time, as set out above. You will return to the University every forth Friday for an academic in-day, which will include scheduled academic tutor meetings, formative assessment, including OSCEs, clinical skills, dissertation seminars and updates on clinical topics. During the year you will have two meetings to discuss your placements in a reflective approach, at the in-days. Students will also be undertaking the dissertation in this year.

Independent self-study

In addition to the contact time, you are expected to undertake around 14-20 hours of personal self-study per week. Typically, this will involve completing online activities, reading journal articles and books, undertaking research in the library and online, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for examinations.

Independent learning is supported by a range of excellent learning facilities, including the Hive and library resources, the virtual learning environment, and extensive electronic learning resources.

Teaching staff

You will be taught by a teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The core academic teaching team consists of three Physician Associates, a Doctor and a Physicians' Assistant (Anaesthesia). These are supported by several sessional lecturers, whom are mostly General Practitioners, hospital doctors or Physician Associates from the local area. There is also input from a wider range of professional including other practicing healthcare professionals, practitioners and service users/carers.

Teaching is informed by the research and consultancy, and 100 per cent of the core academic teaching team (excluding sessional lecturers) have a higher education teaching qualification or are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy. You can learn more about the staff by visiting our staff profiles.


The course provides opportunities to test understanding and learning informally through the completion of practice or 'formative' assignments. Each module has one or more formal or 'summative' assessments which are graded and count towards the overall module grade.

Assessment methods include research proposals, unseen MCQ exams, objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE), an independent study, reflective case portfolio.

Assessment of practice is facilitated by the clinical skills passport, Practice Assessment Documents for each specialty block, and formative placement reflections and review.

All modules are mandatory modules and a typical formal summative assessment pattern for each year of the course is:


Assessment Strategy


Module Code

Module Title


Assessment type

Assessment elements

Pre-clinical Year

Term 1


Foundations of Clinical Medicine and Surgery


001 Online workbook

Case scenarios

002 Unseen SBA Exam

100 SBA questions



Foundations of Clinical Practice


001 Placement portfolio

150 hours of placement;

Assessed simulation;

Clinical skills passport.

002 OSCE

10 OSCE stations

Term 2


Public Health and Primary Care Medicine


Unseen SBA Exam

100 SBA questions

Term 2


Research Methods in Health


Outline dissertation proposal

2,000 word proposal

Term 3


Clinical Specialities


Unseen SBA Exam

100 SBA questions

Clinical Year



Clinical Placements


001 Placement portfolio

1,450 hours of placement;

Clinical skills passport;

Practice Assessment Documents.


002 OSCE


10 OSCE stations






12,000 word systematic review

or project report


NB: All assessments are on a pass/fail basis and there is no compensation between them.




You will receive feedback on practice assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback on examination performance is available upon request from the module leader. Feedback is intended to support learning and you are encouraged to discuss it with personal academic tutors and module tutors as appropriate.

We aim to provide you with feedback on formal course work assessments within 20 working days of hand-in.

Assessment of practice learning involves formative initial and intermediate interviews, where learning needs are identified and where necessary action plans put in place and an end of placement final summative assessment with feedback provided on a final interview form.

Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification document.


Kate Straughton

Kate Straughton graduated as a physician associate (PA) from the first cohort at the University of Birmingham. She is working at the University of Worcester as lecturer and Clinical Placement Lead, and has an honorary role at Wye Valley NHS Trust, Hereford in acute medicine. Kate has worked in acute medicine since qualifying in 2009 in both a busy university teaching hospital and also rural district general hospitals.


Neil Howie

Neil started life as an archaeologist but moved to healthcare. He graduated from the University of Wolverhampton Physician Associate Programme  and has since worked in A&E and acute medicine and Primary Care.


Dr Janina Iwaszko

Janina has a background in scientific research with a PhD in Medical Biophysics. Then followed several busy years as a Head of Department for Science at Manchester Adult Education College. She then followed her heart and qualified in medicine in 1991 and has worked in emergency and adult medicine before specialising in Medical Education.


Adam Ryder

Adam graduated as a Physician Associate in January 2012 following his Biomedical Science degree. He has subsequently spent three years working in Acute Medicine clinically, working in three different NHS Trusts thus far traversing the east and west midlands.


Where could it take you?

Physician associates are highly sought-after clinical professionals in the health care sector. Due to difficulties in recruiting doctors, your role will improve access to healthcare for our increasing and ageing population. You will support the growing demand for assistance needed by GPs, hospital doctors and medical teams in acute and primary care.

After completing this course, our graduates have achieved a 100% employment record, as well as an exceptional record in the National Certification exams. In 2017, our graduates scored above the national average in the written component, and in a significant majority of stations within the OSCE component, with 94% of our graduates passing the exam first time.

Our University trust partners provide clinical placements on this programme. Following successful training, placement mentors often employ our graduates. Our graduates are currently working in many parts of the UK - jobs currently exceed the supply of our graduates, providing promising employment opportunities.

Please note: This is an initial qualification for those aspiring to become Physician Associates. This course is not open to healthcare professionals seeking professional development opportunities.


How much will it cost?


The current fees can be found within the tuition fees document on our figure out finances page.


As with other Physician Associate courses in the UK, if you accept an offer of a place on the MSc Physician Associate you will need to pay a £500 non-refundable deposit at the point of accepting an offer. The deposit is put towards payment of fees when students join the course.

Scholarships, bursaries and loans

Scholarships, bursaries and loans: The funding arrangement for September 2020 entry have not be announced yet.

In previous years, Health Education England, has provided a national funding strategy for all Physician Associate courses in England, where students received £5,000 towards tuition fees, split equally across the two years of the course. We will update this information when it becomes available.

You may be eligible for a postgraduate loan for Masters study. It will be at your own discretion whether the loan is used towards fees, maintenance or other costs. For full details visit our postgraduate loans page.

Additional costs

You will be required to pay an additional fee in order to undertake the National Assessment at the end of the course.

This fee is set and charged by the  Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians. If students are required to repeat the National Assessment they may be required to pay a further fee for each attempt.

You should also consider the cost of books, a stethoscope, appropriate clothes for clinical placements, the costs of travelling to clinical placements and accommodation, which you will need to pay.


Finding the right accommodation is paramount to your university experience, and our welcoming student communities are great places to live and study.

We have over 1,000 rooms across our halls of residence. With rooms to suit every budget and need, from our 'Traditional Hall' at £105 per week to 'En-suite Extra' at £169 per week (2020/21 prices).

For full details visit our accommodation page.

How to apply

How do you apply?

Before you apply

First gather together the following supporting evidence:

  • completed personal statement form
  • copy of degree certificate
  • copy of degree transcript
  • copy of GCSE English and Maths certificates (or equivalent)

You will need upload this as part of the application - applications without the required supporting evidence will be rejected as incomplete.

Top-up route

If you are already qualified and you're hoping to top-up to the MSc from PGDip, please complete and upload the top-up route form.

How to apply

We are no longer accepting additional applications for September 2019 enrolment. An updated application form link will be available from this page soon.


We will invite shortlisted applicants to attend a selection day at the university. The selection process involves a half day of values-based activities. Selection does not include any tests of knowledge.

Previous applicants that were unsuccessful may apply for a second time in the following academic year. We do not permit further applications if your second application is unsuccessful.

For further information, in the first instance, contact For additional information or an informal discussion, please contact the admissions tutor.

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please get in touch. We're here to help you every step of the way.

Neil Howie

Course Director