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MSc Physician Associate Studies

Key facts

Start date September 2019

Duration/mode 24 months full time

UK/EU fees £19,000 (total)

Additional cost information

Entry requirements A bachelor degree with a 2:2 (hons) in health- related science

Language requirements

IELTS 7.5 overall, with no less than 7.5 in spoken English

This course is available to UK/EU residents only


Physician Associates work alongside doctors and GPs, providing medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. They are dependent practitioners working with a dedicated supervisor, but are able to work independently with appropriate support.

The Physician Associate plays an important role in the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients. They work within a defined scope of practice and their roles and responsibilities include:

  • Take medical histories
  • Perform physical examinations
  • Request and interpret diagnostic tests
  • Diagnose illnesses
  • Manage patients with long term illnesses
  • Perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • Develop and deliver appropriate treatment and management plans
  • Health promotion and disease prevention advice

Currently, Physician Associates are not able to:

  • Prescribe
  • Request X-ray/imaging examinations

More information can be found on the Faculty of Physician Associate website http://www.fparcp.co.uk/about-fpa/Who-are-physician-associates

More reasons to study at Leeds

The Faculty of Medicine and Health is a major international hub for research and education. This course has been carefully developed to address local demand. It will equip you for clinical practice, with early clinical exposure and cadaveric anatomy. New technologies will enhance your learning.

You'll have close support from personal and academic tutors throughout the course, whilst also developing your independent learning and research skills.

The MSc in Physician Associate Studies may be for you if you’re committed to working in health and social care, and have the ability and discipline to study intensively. You’ll also need to be an excellent communicator and follow https://www.hee.nhs.uk/about-us/our-values.

  • We hold three ASPIRE-to-Excellence awards for: Student Assessment 2014, Student Engagement 2015 and International Excellence in Social Accountability 2016.
  • You'll be taught by leading professionals, whose teaching is underpinned by world-leading research.
  • Our students benefit from a diverse range of placements within Yorkshire and Humber, including major teaching hospitals, local and acute general hospitals and general practices.
  • Technology is embedded in the MSc Physician Associate programme and we continue to invest and innovate. Read more in Technology Enhanced Learning.
  • Our students are well supported through personal tutors, course tutors, support staff and peer mentoring.
Working with patients

The Physician Associate Studies students work with patients and carers from the Patient Carer Community (PCC) http://medhealth.leeds.ac.uk/info/830/patient_carer_community These members of the PCC support the teaching throughout the curriculum, through small group sessions in communication skills, workshops and assessments.

More information

After successfully completing this programme you must take the national qualifying examination (which you are prepared for throughout the course) in order to be entered on the voluntary national register (UKFPA) to practise as a Physician Associate.

More information can be found at the Faculty of Physician Associate website http://www.fparcp.co.uk/examinations/national-examinations

The University does not cover the cost of these exams

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Course content


The first year of the MSc is mainly based on campus where anatomy, physiology, pathology and therapeutics are delivered in an integrated way. You will spend 1 day a week in Primary care placement during your first year of study.

You will complete 2 modules:

Classroom to Clinic 1

This module will introduce students to the attitudes, skills and knowledge required of a Physician Associate to enable students to deliver holistic care and treatment within the general medical and/or the general practice team under defined levels of clinical supervision.

Spiralled learning, with a focus on increasing integration at a patient level and as a team member in the wider healthcare workforce provides the framework for professional behaviour underpinned by clinical knowledge. A clinical skills e-portfolio will be maintained as evidence of attainment.

The learning outcomes will be met through both taught sessions and compulsory placements.

Foundations of Clinical Practice 1

This module enables you to develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to deliver holistic care and treatment within the general medical and/or the general practice team under defined levels of clinical supervision.

This module provides the underpinning scientific and evidence base for practice.


The second year builds on the first year and the there is a bigger focus on placement experience, where you undertake block rotational placements primarily in secondary care. The beginning of the second year is spent at the School of Medicine and will include a service improvement project; following this you will be on placement. The placements include: Acute medicine, general medicine, surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, long-term conditions, cancer and palliative care, care of the elderly, mental health, musculoskeletal and primary care.

You will complete 2 modules:

Classroom to Clinic 2

This module builds on Classroom to Clinic 1 to enable students to develop competence, skills, knowledge and attitudes required of a Physician Associate to enable them to deliver holistic care and treatment within the general medical and/or the general practice team under defined levels of clinical supervision.

Spiralled learning, with a focus on increasing integration at a patient level and as a team member in the wider healthcare workforce provides the framework for professional behaviour underpinned by clinical knowledge.

A clinical skills e-portfolio will be maintained as evidence of attainment.

The learning outcomes will be met through both taught sessions and compulsory placements.

Foundations of Clinical Practice 2

This module enables you to consolidate and further develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to deliver holistic care and treatment within primary and secondary practice under defined levels of clinical supervision.

This module continues the spiralled learning from the first year of study, and as required to support the clinical placements described in the Competency and Curriculum Framework for Physician Associates

Second year students will be expected to build upon knowledge from Year 1 that is of relevance to a Physician Associate and which underpins the scientific and evidence base for clinical practice.

Patient safety is paramount and this strand of the programme is delivered over both years.

Research in Clinical Practice

This new 60-credit masters module allows Physician Associate students to experience an element of research in the workplace, this could be in the form of a service improvement project or original research. The module comprises individual supervision as well as taught sessions.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Physician Associate Studies MSc in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

This course will be delivered using a blended learning approach, combining lectures, tutorials, Self-Directed Learning (SDL), use of online materials, case based discussions, skills sessions, and seminars to facilitate deeper learning and allow for a range of student learning preferences.

You’ll have access to a comprehensive range of e-learning resources. Self-assessment (under supervision) and continual assessment are also key elements of the programme.

Core Clinical Skills are taught by the Clinical Skills Education Team at the Clinical Practice Centre based at St James's Hospital. The aim of these sessions is to ensure that all students can perform clinical skills in the clinical environment in a safe, competent and confident manner. https://medhealth.leeds.ac.uk/info/296/teaching_facilities/1031/clinical_practice_centre

Our teaching is based on the NHS values in the http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/thenhs/about/Pages/nhscoreprinciples.aspx.

Our approach to teaching and learning is founded on best educational practice and innovative delivery.

Outstanding learning resources in our Health Sciences Library and Clinical Practice Centre support your learning. Early exposure to clinical settings allows you to start developing your consultation and practical skills, and your own style as a Physician Associate.

You’ll be taught by leading professionals, whose teaching is underpinned by world-leading research. We’ll encourage you to develop independent learning and research skills in year 2.

You’ll experience self-directed and group learning through the development of your e- portfolio and technology such as apps and online resources.

Case-based learning supports you in integrating your growing knowledge with the real patients you meet.

Inter-professional learning ensures you develop good leadership and team-working skills with other professional groups.

We take support of our students seriously. Regular contact with your personal tutor guides your academic progress and personal development, to enable you to achieve your full potential. Course tutors and support staff are all on hand to help. You’re supported by your fellow students through a peer mentoring scheme.


A range of assessments are used to test your knowledge, understanding and clinical competence, these include: project presentations, group work, written assignments, and topic area passports or portfolios that describe placement performance, attendance and professionalism. Reflective accounts of early placement experiences and discussions on topics such as ethics and patient safety issues are entered on-line to a personal Progress File. This accumulates over your years of study both in the accounts of your work and experiences, and in the feedback from tutors. Anatomy is assessed by regular MCQs (multiple choice questions)

End of year exams include written exams and OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations). The written exams assess core knowledge and understanding of the material taught in that year (and previously) and include multiple choice questions (MCQs), extended matching questions (EMQs). These methods of assessment are used throughout the UK in undergraduate and post-graduate medicine. They follow a single best answer (SBA) rather than true-false approach, recognising this better reflects real-life medical decisions.

OSCEs assess core clinical skills and their application in the clinical specialties relevant to that examination, and are held both years of study. They typically involve 16 or more clinical stations that require you to demonstrate a specific skill or consult with a patient. These patients are trained actors and their views on your behaviour also feed into the assessment. To pass, candidates are required to achieve the overall pass mark, pass a minimum number of stations. Both the OSCE and written exams have criterion-based pass marks, set by examiners.

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Applying, fees and funding

Entry requirements

The Physician Associate Studies course has a considerable amount of pure and applied science and therefore it is important that our students join us with a fundamental science background in order to cope with the demands of the course. Typical entry requirements include:

  • Bachelor degree with a minimum 2:2 (hons) in health-related science or equivalent qualification. For example, but limited to- Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry, Medical Genetics, Anatomy and Human Biology, Radiography
  • We will consider alternative academic qualifications on a case-by-case basis. Upon enquiry we will explore the science content of your degree/alternative academic qualifications. We may ask for details of your course content.

We encourage applications from candidates already working in healthcare and can demonstrate/evidence (usually through continuing Professional Development – CPD) the ability to study at Masters Level. This will apply to candidates who have not studied in the last 5 years.

Ideally you should have recent experience of volunteering or employment in a healthcare setting/environment. However, we are also looking for transferable skills from other similar activates, such as paid employment.

Due to the limited biology content, a number of Nursing Degrees are not appropriate for consideration for entry onto the course. If in doubt, please email the Admissions Team with details of the modules and content of your degree.

If English is not your first language, you will need a recognised English Language qualification to be admitted onto the MSc Physician Associate course.

English language requirements: IETLS 7.5 overall with 7.5 in Spoken English. The language requirements are higher that the University's requirements and are specified in line with the medical undergraduate course. The expectation is that Physician Associates will require a similar command of English.

Health and Disclosure and Barring Service Screening

Before starting the Physician Associate Studies course all successful applicants will also need to pass health and criminal record screening.

The University has a policy statement on students with criminal records. Read the current Criminal Records policy and Guidance for Applicants with Criminal Convictions in MBChB downloads on the School of Medicine website. For the vast majority of students who are resident in the UK the record will be checked via the Disclosure and Barring Service.

For students who do not have a 5 year UK address history: The DBS check can only include background checks on your time in the UK. If you have been resident in the UK for less than 3 years, then a criminal record check from your home country is required in addition to the UK DBS check. This may be referred to as a "Certificate of Good Conduct" (CoGC), but the name varies.

Any offer of a place to study Physician Associate Studies course is conditional upon a satisfactory confidential occupational health assessment, which will include a health questionnaire, and if necessary further telephone consultation and/or an appointment with an occupational health clinician. Screening for serious communicable disease, (Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, tuberculosis (TB)) and a review of immunisation needs will also be arranged before beginning the course.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.5 overall, with no less than 7.5 in spoken English. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

How to apply

Application deadline: March 2019 - date tbc Applications that are incomplete (without a personal statement, referee details and degree/transcript/education documentation may not be considered)

We do not consider applications after the deadline. Applications received made after the deadline will be rolled over to next year, September 2020.

MMI interviews: May 2019 - date tbc(please ensure you are available during these dates- telephone, Skype and 1:1 interviews are not available) Open day: Friday February 8th 2019

The Physician Associate Studies team will be hosting a presentation on February 8th 2019 1:30-3pm, as part of the Postgraduate open day at the University of Leeds. We will have talks from the academic team, admissions team, teaching and support staff & students currently on the course and Physician Associate Studies graduates.

Here you will be able to find out all about the course and ask any questions you may have.

Come along to find out more

The Worsley building, University of Leeds, room tbc 1:30-3pm

Application/ Selection Process

A successful application passes through several stages before we can make an offer:

Stage 1

All applications received on time are reviewed after the deadline. We assess your application, looking at your degree relevance and other academic evidence. The Personal Statement (Personal Statement Guide on the School's website) for each candidate is scored, using a pre-determined non- academic agreed criteria, by the admissions teams. These criteria’s are reviewed annually. Those ranked highest are invited to an interview- MMI (multiple mini interview). Those who did not rank high enough are rejected from the application process.

Stage 2

We anticipate to invite about 80 candidates to interview, with only 30 places available each intake per year (September only). The MMI process allows us to further assess an applicant’s non- academic qualities. There are currently six interview stations, which applicants progress round. Each station lasts 7 minutes, with1 minute reading time and to move to the next station. Each interviewer awards marks according to a pre-determined standardised scale. After the completion of all stations we calculate a ranked score for each candidate. Those who did not rank high enough are rejected from the application process.

Stage 3

Those with the overall highest marks are offered places. We aim to make 30 offers with a reserve list of around 10-15. Those on the reserve list cannot be told where they are on the list or what their score was.

Offers are made on the basis of the ranked interview score and the merit and ability for each candidate to meet the academic and non- academic criteria for the course. The decision to make an offer after interview depends entirely on your performance at interview, not on your achieved or predicted grades or work experience.

We are confident that our application process is thorough and unfortunately because of the nature and volume of applications and interviews we are unable to provide specific feedback, at any stage.


This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Admissions policy

Link to admissions policy document


UK/EU fees: £19,000 (total)
International fees:

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Additional cost information

You will need to purchase books and equipment, such as white lab coats, stethoscopes and pass cards. You will also have to meet travel costs whilst on placement. Placements will be throughout the Yorkshire region for both primary and secondary care placements, which have been approved and authorised by the School of Medicine.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

To be registered on the managed voluntary register as a Physician Associate you need to pass the national qualifying exam after you have gained the Physician Associate Studies programme. This exam is not part of this programme and the cost of the exam is not included in your course fees. Find out more at the Faculty of Physician Associates website.

Scholarships and financial support

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Career opportunities

After qualifying as a Physician Associate you can expect a starting salary of Band 6 or 7 in the NHS Agenda for Change pay rates. You will be part of a new and rapidly growing UK profession, supported by the NHS and the Department of Health, and will follow a career path with proven success in the United States.

As a graduate Physician Associate you will help to increase the numbers of the medical workforce and increase access to quality care for patients. You will act in an enabling role, helping to reduce the healthcare team’s workload. You will bring new talent to the NHS and add to the skill mix within the teams.

While trainee doctors and surgeons rotate through different specialties, Physician Associates offer continuity of care for patients, as well as institutional memory for the team in which they work. Physician Associate support also provides cover so that trainee doctors and surgeons can attend training, clinic or theatre.

In the future Physician Associates may become a regulated profession and there is currently a Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians.

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