About the course
This intensive and exciting new programme provides all the essential skills and knowledge necessary to become a Physician Associate in the UK. In addition, it provides the challenges of enhanced knowledge synthesis and research to produce academic clinicians equipped to lead and develop the profession.
The Department of Health's Competence and Curriculum Framework for the Physician Assistant (now Physician Associate) defines the Physician Associate as:
…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.
Physician Associates (PAs) are part of a new and growing profession within the NHS. PAs work alongside doctors in hospitals and GP surgeries to provide safe and quality care to patients. PAs, under supervision of doctors, may obtain medical histories, perform physical examinations, carry out diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, request and interpret test results, diagnose illnesses and develop treatment and management plans.
The Physician Associate MSc programme includes over 1,800 hours of professional practice and will fully prepare you to practise in a wide variety of specialties and settings. Currently PAs work in General Practice, Emergency Medicine, and multiple Adult Medical and Surgical specialties.
Successful completion of the Physician Associate MSc programme provides eligibility to sit for the Physician Associate National Examination and join the Managed Voluntary Register.
If you are considering studying the Physician Associate MSc Programme at Brunel University London then you are committed to working jointly with the NHS to demonstrate the values and beliefs of the constitution.
Patients, public and staff have helped develop this expression of values that inspire passion in the NHS and that should underpin everything it does. Individual organisations will develop and build upon these values, tailoring them to their local needs. The NHS values provide common ground for co-operation to achieve shared aspirations, at all levels of the NHS.
The aim of the Physician Associate MSc programme is to prepare you as a medical professional who strives for excellence in clinical practice. To achieve this aim, the programme provides you with a strong scientific foundation and encourages the development of excellent practical and clinical reasoning skills. All of this is essential for you to treat patients safely and effectively.
The programme also provides you with the means to critically evaluate your own patient care – a skill which is vital to continuing evidence-based practice. A sound working knowledge of research methodology provides the basis for this evaluation process and also the tools to develop your own research interests at any stage of your professional career.
In addition, it helps develop vital communication skills and soundly embeds the essential core values of professionalism. Indeed, the Master's programme aims to produce highly professional graduates with excellent communication skills. Graduates are able to function as adaptable clinicians and fully interactive members of the multidisciplinary health care team within a changing health and social care setting.
Dr David R Leonard
Tel: +44 (0)1895 268497
Please note email is our preferred mode of communication. However, if you need to write to us, our address is:
College of Health and Life Sciences
Brunel University London
Mary Seacole Building
Middlesex UB8 3PH
Our Physician Associate Master's course is an exciting and innovative modular programme, delivered full-time over two years. Applicants should be aware that the programme is delivered over a period 45 weeks in Year 1 and 48 weeks in Year 2. In addition the course is intense, with significant contact hours. Students should expect to be studying on campus from 9am - 6pm five days a week. All students must be ready to assume responsibility for their own learning.
Clinical placements will start in the first term of Year 1 with weekly one-day GP placements. In Year 2 the majority of time will be spent on clinical placement in various practice settings. You should broadly expect to adopt the working patterns of the supervising clinician (clinical educator). Generally, you are expected to complete 42 weeks of clinical experience. You should expect to be working roughly a 40-hour week whilst on placement.
Below you will find a brief description of each of the modules.(Please note that all modules are compulsory.)
Foundations of Clinical Medicine (Year 1 & 2)
This module will provide you with the knowledge and clinical reasoning skills of the fundamental elements of clinical medicine which include the presentation, diagnosis and management of disease and health conditions.
Personal and Professional Development for the Physician Associate (Year 1 & 2)
This module will enable you to develop communication and clinical examination skills required for the Physician Associate role and to develop self-awareness and reflection appropriate for professional practice as a Physician Associate.
Applied Pharmacology (Year 1)
This module will enable you to develop a greater knowledge and understanding of how the mechanisms of drug action are related to therapeutic and adverse effects. This will enhance practice, as you will be able to monitor and assess more effectively overall drug response, with resultant benefit to patient care.
Principles and Practice of Evidence-Based Healthcare (Year 1)
This module gives you the opportunity to examine recent literature and to consider its contribution to evidence-based practice. You will explore the types of information that are collected about health and will critically evaluate research material from a range of study designs.
Approaches to Research (Year 1)
This module allows you to develop your knowledge and critical awareness of a variety of research methods, enhance skills for designing research studies, and to develop your knowledge of appropriate methods of data analysis.
Dissertation (Year 1 & 2)
The module will enable you to work with an academic supervisor to design and conduct a piece of research on a topic relevant to medical practice.
PA Applied Clinical Knowledge & Skills (Year 2)
This module will provide you with the opportunity to develop and apply your basic skills of examination, assessment and treatment in real-life clinical environments to a variety of health disorders relevant to the placement specialty. It also allows you to participate in the health care of patients across their lifespan with a diversity of presentations. Finally, it also provides the practical experiences essential to inform your dissertation.
For the award of MSc Physician Associate, students must pass the UK Physician Associate National Certification Examination.
Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel
and what you will learn on the course.
- You’ll study in purpose-built facilities in our multi-million pound health sciences building and you’ll share elements of your course with Master’s students from other health-related disciplines.
- You’ll enjoy our campus university, where you’re never more than a ten minute walk from halls of residence, catering, social, sports and study facilities, lecture theatres, the Library and support services.
- You’ll be taught by experts in delivering accredited programmes such as Biosciences, Occupational therapy and Physiotherapy.
- You’ll complete 1800 hours of clinical placement during the course.
- On successful completion of the Physician Associate MSc programme, you will be eligible to sit for the Physician Associate National Examination and join the Managed Voluntary Register.
David R Leonard, DHSc, MMS, PA-C/R has been a physician associate for over 25 years. His PA education background includes work at three US programmes, the last as Chair of a developing programme. In the UK he has worked as a Senior Lecturer for the University of Birmingham’s PA Programme before joining Brunel as Reader/Programme Lead for the newly developing PA programme. He is also a member of the Royal College of Physicians Faculty of Physician Associates.
His clinical experience has primarily focused on correctional medicine, providing acute, chronic, and urgent care to inmates. He was also a consultant in the medical research industry with a specialty in interventional cardiology/vascular devices.
Ketan C Patel, BSc, FRCP, FRCPath undertook his undergraduate education at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine. His registrar training incorporated several medical centres in West London including St Mary’s Hospital, Charing Cross Hospital, and Hammersmith Hospital, and he was appointed a haematology consultant at Hillingdon Hospital Foundation Trust in 2005.
Dr Patel has been involved in the training of both undergraduate and postgraduate doctors as well as haematology specialist trainees. He was a Foundation Training programme director for 5 years and helped develop training modules for junior doctors.
Teaching and Assessment
A mix of teaching/learning approaches are used including: classroom based learning, problem/evidence-based learning, peer-assisted learning, clinical practice learning, independent learning, e-learning, assimilated learning in clinical labs, and the use of trained teaching associates for intimate examinations. Emphasis will be placed on active student participation, reflection and learning.
As a Physician Associate MSc student we expect you to come to us with specific academic skills and abilities. Your learning will rapidly become self-directed. We will build upon your ability to perform literature searches and critically appraise the evidence base and so prepare you for your commitment to continued professional development and lifelong learning after qualifying.
Assessments will include single best answer/multiple choice questions papers and Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) to begin early preparation for the National Examination. Other assessments will include written assignments, oral presentations, reflection papers, and a portfolio of evidence.
All modules must be passed in order to proceed through the course. Normally students will have two attempts at passing each assessment.
The Physician Associate (PA) profession is poised to make a significant difference to the provision and continuity of patient care throughout the NHS. Physician Associate graduates are pioneers in health care, promoting the profession, as well as educating both providers and patients about the work that PAs do.
You will learn the following skills while you are studying on campus. These are further refined during your 42 weeks of clinical practice.
- Professionalism and professional development.
- The application of basic science and knowledge to the clinical situation.
- The needs of the patient for effective communication, compassion, dignity, confidentiality, cultural sensitivity, and respect.
- Evidence-based practice.
- Proficiency with information technology as utilised in healthcare.
- Practical skills underpinned by a sound understanding of science and scientific principles.
- Problem-solving as evidenced by our teaching and learning situations and our assessment requirements.
- Developing the confident practitioner who is aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Developing the self-reliant life-long learner with the skills and motivation to address weaknesses and to build on strengths.
- Developing the critical thinker able to evaluate scientific evidence and able to make valid judgments regarding evidence-based practice and to contribute to the profession and to the evidence base via their own research.
There continues to be a growing demand for Physician Associates throughout the UK. PAs usually earn salaries based in Band 7 of the NHS Agenda for Change while some are offered salaries based in Band 6 if a structured internship is being offered.
PAs work in a variety of clinical settings and specialties including GP surgeries, hospital inpatient wards, and A & E departments. Please see the FAQ page of the Royal College of Physicians Faculty of Physician Associates (RCPFPA) website for more information. The RCPFPA’s most recent census information can be viewed at Census Results.
For additional information regarding the Physician Associate profession please explore:
Royal College of Physicians Faculty of Physician Associates
Competence and Curriculum Framework for the Physician Assistant
Matrix Specification of Core Clinical Conditions for the Physician Assistant
Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register
American Academy of Physician Assistants
Watch this video 'A Day in the Life of a Physician Associate'.
Clinical placements will include rotations in the following areas:
• Accident and Emergency
• Acute Medicine
• General Practice
• Mental Health
• Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Whilst on placements you will be supervised by doctors and physician associates. You will be assessed on placement by your supervising clinician(s). The assessment score from clinical placement modules will contribute to your final degree classification.
All clinical placement modules are organised on the student's behalf by the clinical co-ordination team. This allows us to provide you with a balanced clinical experience both in terms of the specialties/patient groups you have worked with and the range of health care setting you have worked in. It is important that you are exposed to a variety of health settings, which are reflective of current clinical practice.
We are sympathetic to your needs when we assign clinical placements. However, we are unable to guarantee that any student will be located close to their home or term-time address and you may have to commute or live away from home for the duration of a placement or two. We do try to give special consideration to students whose personal circumstances fall within specified criteria, ie they have young children, are a main carer, or have a declared disability etc.
At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.
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Fees for 2017/18 entry
Please see information about additional fees.
Additional course related costs
Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students
UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.
Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).
Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.
Entry Criteria 2017/18
A UK first or 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification in a Life or Health Sciences subject area (ie biology, biochemistry, biomedical sciences, medical sciences, medical engineering, nursing, Operating Department Practice, Paramedic Pharmacy, Physiology).
Applicants who hold a UK (2:2) Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification with relevant work experience will be considered on an individual basis.
All short-listed applicants will be required to attend an interview.
Two personal statements of no more than 500 words are required for both of the following statements:
1. Describe your motivation to become a physician associate detailing your experience, qualifications, and personal qualities as they pertain to becoming a member of the profession.
2. Discuss how the physician associate role might fit into the UK healthcare system.
Two satisfactory references are required to support your application, both dated within the last year. One of these must be a recent academic reference and the other should be either a second academic reference or a professional/employer reference. Your referees should know you well enough, in an official capacity, to write about you and your suitability for higher education. We do not accept references from family, friends, partners, ex-partners or yourself.
Successful applicants will have a satisfactory health clearance and are required to undergo appropriate blood tests and immunisations against hepatitis B, MMR, TB, and chicken pox.
Disclosure and Barring Service
Successful applicants are required to have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (formerly a Criminal Records Bureau check). More information
If you are a current healthcare professional or a member of a registered professional body, we ask that you provide details of your registration. If you have had your professional registration suspended or revoked, or undergone a disciplinary/fitness to practise investigation, you will be required to provide further information if selected for interview. You may also be asked to provide full copies of related documentation.
Meeting the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee an interview or a place on the programme.
Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.
International and EU Entry Requirements
If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions
This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.
English Language Requirements
- IELTS: 7.5 (min 7W, 7L, 7R, 7S)
- Pearson: 73 (64 in all subscores)
- BrunELT: 75% (min 70% in all areas)
Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.
However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.
Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English. Find out more information about English course and test options.