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Physician Associate Studies

MSc ( 2 years Full-time )


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The MSc is 27 months, full-time, starting in January 2018.

The course is ideally suitable for life science graduates, nurses, allied health professionals or anyone interested in pursuing a challenging and exciting career in healthcare.

This is an intensive and innovative programme delivered by a leading UK medical school - Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, a faculty of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). The programme has been designed to give students the skills and knowledge required to become an effective physician associate (PA). Physician associates support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients. As a PA you might work in a GP surgery or be based in a hospital, but wherever you work, you'll have direct contact with patients. PAs are required to maintain their generalist skills, in contrast to doctors, this allows them to move between different specialties and areas of practice enabling the PA to have a varied ‘portfolio’ career with a strong patient focus.

Course highlights

  • Excellent employment opportunities
  • A leading UK medical school ranked second in the UK for Medicine – Guardian University Guide 2017
  • A Russell Group university
  • Fast-paced and highly rewarding 27-month course
  • Excellent collaborations with Trust partners to facilitate high quality placements
  • Early exposure to clinical environments
  • Taught by academics who are leaders in their respective field
  • Innovative course delivery

Programme aims


The programme aims to equip graduates with the knowledge, skills and attitudes, in line with the professional standards expected of doctors by the UK General Medical Council (GMC) that will distinguish them as an exemplary physician associate (PA). Graduates will be able to undertake many roles traditionally performed by doctors and as such will augment the existing medical work force. Graduates will have also have acquired the skills and attitudes for life-long learning and reflective practice, enabling them to meet the challenge of providing high quality health care, responsive to the changing needs of the population and the NHS.

These aims are met though an innovative, student-centred course of study, which is responsive to the needs of employers and the strategic aims of the NHS.

You will learn a broad range of clinical skills and knowledge. The curriculum covers much of what a doctor learns at undergraduate level but typically in less depth. Over the 27 months of the course you will develop into a highly competent healthcare professional.

Where will students be based?

Learning and teaching occurs in a variety of educational settings and is distinguished from other PA courses offered in the UK by the very early exposure to clinical environments.

Students will be based at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (Whitechapel campus), clinical placement will take place throughout North East London at a number of leading GP practices and NHS Trusts including; Barking Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, East London Foundation Trust, Homerton University Hospital Foundation NHS Trust, North East London NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust.

Career opportunities

The career path of a PA is a highly attractive option for anyone who wishes to start a career in medicine but without having to commit to a demanding five-year medical degree. Currently positions for PAs in the UK far exceed the number of individuals available to fill them, giving PAs tremendous flexibility to live and work anywhere in the country.

The history of a physician associate

The US pioneered the role of the PA over 40 years’ ago with the aim to create skilled healthcare professionals who would relieve the pressure of doctors in various clinical settings. The concept was a huge success and the role of a PA has now become fundamental in the US health system. Here in the UK, the PA has become a rapidly growing healthcare profession.

How to apply

We are currently taking applications for January 2018. Please make your application via our online application form. If you have any questions, please contact Clair Thompson



Please contact Mariana Cabral for further information on the course structure  and how to apply

Entry requirements

We require applicants to be able and motivated, capable of sustaining the considerable effort required to complete this challenging course, and willing to be present for teaching sessions outside of traditional classroom hours.

If you meet the entry requirements set out below, you will be considered for interview.

Applicants must have a Life Sciences or Health Profession degree. This will usually be a Bachelors degree, and may be a four-year Masters, but the latter only if it is a first degree. The minimum academic entry requirements are an upper second class (2:1) Honours degree.

If an applicant is offered a place, he/she must have completed this degree prior to enrolment. Candidates are required to complete their degree within the prescribed period allowed by their University. Only an applicant’s first degree is considered.

The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT)

All applicants will be required to sit the UKCAT this summer for January 2017 entry. Please refer to the UKCAT website for key dates and test locations


If the entry requirements have been met you will be considered for interview which will be held at Barts and The London, Whitechapel campus.

Please contact Clair Thompson for further information and how to apply

Learning and teaching

Students will learn a broad range of skills and knowledge. The curriculum covers much of what a doctor learns at undergraduate level but typically in less depth. Over the 27 months of the course you will develop into a highly competent healthcare professional.

The course employs a flipped classroom model similar to The Khan Academy, which means lectures are delivered in video format and contact time with faculty focuses on explaining the key issues within small group tutorials.

As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. A variety of teaching and learning methods will be employed including; Problem based Learning, online lectures, podcasts, lecture notes and documentary reading material, guided reading exercises, , ‘Ask the expert’ sessions, demonstration videos if applicable. workshops, laboratory practice sessions, self-directed learning, small group tutorials, case presentations, reading lists of books and journal papers. You are assigned a Course Tutor who will guide you in both academic and pastoral matters throughout your time at Queen Mary.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


Each module is examined separately by coursework and/ or written exam at the end of the module. All modules must be passed at the end of year exams. The research project assessment is in the form of a written dissertation.


You will also be assessed on a 10,000 word dissertation.

PA Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do we need PAs in UK healthcare?
    • Yes, there is a growing demand for PA's to support medical care. 
    • Doctors are working under difficult conditions. 
    • The population is increasing and ageing
    • Technology is changing the face of healthcare.
  • Are there jobs for PAs in the UK?
    • Yes, there is a growing demand for PA's to support GPs and hospital doctors in a variety of specialities. 
    • Physician Associates are currently working in many parts of the UK
  • If you want to practice medicine, why not train as a doctor?
    • Physician Associates are mature, talented people from very varied backgrounds
    • They want to improve access to healthcare and reduce disparities
    • They are usually established in their communities and plan to stay there
    • They aspire to be health professionals in their own right as part of the multi-professional team
  • Don’t we already have a confusing skill mix in the NHS?
    • PAs are trained in the medical model (like doctors) to work as part of a team
    • They supplement the medical workforce
    • They provide continuity
    • PAs are very well-accepted and valued in the US
  • Are there enough training places?
    • PAs bring different experiences, maturity, confidence and humility to the training team
    • With clear expectations, this is a mutually beneficial experience
    • PAs are often hired by their mentors after training
    • As a University we work collaboratively with trust partners however PA students need to be aware they may have to travel to their clinical placements
  • Do Physician Associates take jobs away from doctors?
    • Physician Associates are intended to complement the medical team and not to replace doctors
  • Can Physician Associates prescribe?
    • PAs in the UK do not currently have prescribing rights
    • Prescribing is a privilege. It comes with rigorous training
    • Pharmacology is an important part of the PA curriculum
    • Active discussions are taking place and it is hoped that PAs will be regulated and able to prescribe in the future
    • All American PAs have the ability to prescribe



Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2017 entry
Full time £9,000

Tuition fees for International students


There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide [PDF] for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717

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