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Physicians Associate Studies

PG Diploma
Duration: 2 years
Attendance mode: Full-time
Award: PG Diploma
Not suitable for international students
Start date: September
Faculty of Life Sciences
Apply Prospectus downloads


The University of Bradford is proud to announce the launch of a new and innovative PGDip/MSc in Physician Associate Studies. This postgraduate programme has been designed and developed in conjunction with local healthcare professionals to help improve patient access to medical services.

On this programme you will learn how to consult effectively with patients, take medical histories, conduct physical examinations, request and interpret tests, diagnose illnesses and injuries, develop treatment and management plans, and counsel on preventative healthcare. 

This two-year full-time intensive training programme includes:

  • Regular clinical placements
  • Teaching by healthcare professionals
  • Innovative teaching methods using team-based and problem-based learning
  • Regular use of simulation using manikins and simulated patients to develop core competencies

The programme equips students with the skills required for a career area that is in great demand in a changing NHS. The physician associate is a relatively new healthcare role in the UK, developed to meet the demand on front line NHS services and an associated shortage of doctors. Working under the supervision of a doctor, a physician associate works in a clinical setting consulting with patients in person and by telephone.

They are trained to perform a number of roles including:

  • taking medical histories
  • performing examinations
  • diagnosing illnesses
  • analysing test results
  • counsel on preventive health care

This programme will be a joint initiative across the Faculties of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Bradford. It is an intense 90-week programme taught over two years to achieve a PGDip.

Learning and teaching includes 1600 hours of clinical rotations in Hospitals and Community General Medical Practices. 

There is a strong public health theme to the programme, with students committed to promoting health and wellbeing in order to prevent illness. There is also a technological theme to the programme with students developing skills in digital health and health informatics.

The programme is designed for clinicians, graduate scientists and other medical professionals working in a clinical, industrial or academic research environment. It is of interest to those with a first degree in other Health and Life Science subjects such as Biology, Biochemistry, Pharmacy, Medical Sciences, Nursing, Osteopathy and Occupational Therapy, who are interested in a career related to Medicine.

Candidates must pass the national exam before they can practice as a Physician Associate.

Further information can be found on the Faculty of Physicians Associate website.

Why Bradford?

The programme is based in the School of Medical Sciences which has continued to pioneer high-quality new developments in clinical and biomedical sciences education, and it is recognised both nationally and internationally for the excellence of its courses and graduates.  It is jointly delivered with academics from the Faculty of Health Studies which means that our students will benefit from wide ranging; transdisciplinary teaching experiences, and have access to a variety of cutting-edge equipment and facilities.

The programme offers considerable collaborative learning experiences (e.g. through team-based learning).  You will work in small teams and will learn from the experiences of others.  

This programme is one of a limited number of dedicated Physician Associate Courses in the UK, this bespoke course has been built specifically to meet the needs of this emerging healthcare professional, and developed in consultation with local doctors in hospital and general practice.

Entry requirements

  • 2:1 (or above) in a Life Science, Biomedical Science, or Healthcare subject from a UK University or overseas equivalent.
  • Experience in healthcare may contribute & compensate if the above requirements have not been fully met and will be considered on a case by case basis.

Personal statement

Your personal statement is an important part of our selection process.  This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you understand the core NHS values and the role of a Physician Associate with the context of our contemporary healthcare issues locally and nationally.  We are looking for students to demonstrate that they have the skills required to successfully complete this demanding course, balancing academic study with clinical placements, a willingness to travel and flexible working patterns.

Health screening

Successful applicants will be required to comply with any health screening as requested by the Department of Health in line with current guidelines for health care workers.

Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check is also required.

English language requirements:

IELTS overall score of 7.5 with no less than 7.0 in each of the sub tests (or the appropriate level in equivalent acceptable English Language qualifications).

If you do not meet the IELTS requirement, you can take a University of Bradford pre-sessional English course. See the Language Centre for more details.


The modules for this course can be found in the latest programme specification.

The programme is intensive. To achieve the qualification required to enter this profession, which is at Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) level, your programme is delivered over two years and you are expected to attend full time for 45 weeks of each year with approximately 50% of this time spent on clinical placement in local hospitals and GP practices. 

Students with a PGDip Physician Associate Studies are eligible to sit the national examination to qualify as a physician associate; this programme prepares you to pass that examination.

In Year 1 you develop competence in ‘communication and clinical skills’, both in the classroom and through early practice placements.  Alongside these practical skills, you learn how to ‘apply the knowledge of the medical sciences to patient-facing clinical practice’ through the completion of a large module which spans both years of the course.  We have worked with placement providers to plan timely, authentic, experiential learning opportunities in the workplace to enhance the learning in the University.  In Year 2 you add a greater depth to your increasing clinical knowledge by studying a module linked to safe, effective use of medicines and other therapeutic interventions.  Currently physician associates cannot legally prescribe medicines but this may change in the future and this module will help prepare you for a potential future prescribing role.

As an added option, you can achieve a higher award of a Master's in Science (MSc) Physician Associate Studies.  This would typically be over an additional 12 month period, where you would undertake a clinical, research-focused dissertation based on their practice as a qualified Physician Associate.

Modules (all core)

  • Communication and Clinical Skills for Physician Associates
  • Patients and their medicines
  • Integrated Medical Sciences and Professional Practice


Reading lists

All reading lists can be found here.

Learning activities and assessment

This is a fully integrated course, by this we mean that our teaching of the biomedical, clinical and pharmacological sciences is always framed around the application to the clinical practice of working as a physician associate.   You will be taught by a range of healthcare professionals both in the classroom and on clinical practice, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, and of course on clinical placements there are even further opportunities to work in an interprofessional environment.  There are also numerous opportunities to work with patients, service users and carers who are involved in classroom teaching sessions.

The programme includes a variety of teaching, learning and assessment methods.  It is learner-centred and uses enquiry-based learning, team based learning and problem based learning.  Throughout the course we focus on outcomes (what you will be doing in future roles), using case-based and patient centred learning tasks and incorporating clinical placements from the beginning.  We are focused on local healthcare needs, and have integrated public health and digital health technologies themes running throughout the course. 

Career support and prospects

Career support

The University is committed to helping students develop and enhance employability and this is an integral part of many programmes. Specialist support is available throughout the course from Career and Employability Services including help to find part-time work while studying, placements, vacation work and graduate vacancies. Students are encouraged to access this support at an early stage and to use the extensive resources on the Careers website.

Discussing options with specialist advisers helps to clarify plans through exploring options and refining skills of job-hunting. In most of our programmes there is direct input by Career Development Advisers into the curriculum or through specially arranged workshops.

Career prospects

Physician Associates are a new healthcare workforce in the UK and much needed in a changing NHS.  Physician Associates can be found working in GP surgeries, inpatient wards and Emergency Departments.  An annual census is carried out by the Faculty of Physician Associates and provides a useful overview of the wide ranging roles currently undertaking. 

The number of Physician Associates is likely to grow as the NHS seeks solutions to the workload pressures on A&E Departments and GP Surgeries.   In the Yorkshire region, we expect career prospects for Physician Associates to be good as the region is currently experiencing reduced GP and speciality trainee recruitment.  The University of Bradford is working with our placement providers to plan for future employment prospects for our students.

Salary expectations

Typically, upon qualification Physician Associates can expect a starting salary at Band 6 or 7 in the NHS Agenda for Change pay rates.

Study Support

Every student is assigned an individual member of academic staff from the School of Medical Sciences as a Personal Academic Tutor, whose main roles are :

  • To monitor students’ progress through the degree programme
  • To provide references
  • To act as students’ representative at examination boards
  • To act as a contact point should a student have any personal problems for which they need advice or support

Students will have regular meetings with their Personal Academic Tutor.  This tutor will also regularly liaise with your clinical supervisors in General Practice and in the hospital to support your development from both an academic and a professional perspective.


Students will be learning in a range of different facilities including:

Explore our simulation suite using this interactive 360° tour:

Fees, Finance and Scholarships

Tuition fees

Course fees are £9,000 per annum.

Tuition fees are subject to review for students starting their course in subsequent years. See our Fees and Financial Support website for more details.

Financial support

A training grant of £5,000 per student, per programme will be offered to all student PAs undertaking training in England. This payment will be paid £2,500 per annum, students should be able to utilise this payment against course fees, travel or similar costs incurred during the programme.

Extra costs incurred as part of your course

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 PGDip in Physician Associate Studies 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.

How do I find out more?

Contact the Faculty

For further information please email:

Steps to Postgraduate Study

Find out more about studying at a postgraduate level on the official, independent website Steps to Postgraduate Study (link opens in new window).

How to apply

Application deadline for 2018 entry: 23 March 2018.

The easiest way to apply is online.

This will help us process your application more quickly and allow you to submit your supporting documents electronically.

If you are unable to apply online, please email to request a paper application form.

We will also need the following supporting documents, along with any other information specified on the course page:

  • Degree certificates/transcripts
  • Research proposal (if required)
  • Two references (including one academic reference)
  • Evidence of English language level (if required)
  • A copy of your passport

Once you have applied you will have access to the University's Applicant Portal, where you can track the status of your application.

You should also start thinking about how you plan to fund your postgraduate study — you may need to apply for loans or grants at this stage.

This is the current course information. Modules and course details may change, subject to the University's programme approval, monitoring and review procedures. The University reserves the right to alter or withdraw courses, services and facilities as described on our website without notice and to amend Ordinances, Regulations, fees and charges at any time. Students should enquire as to the up-to-date position when applying for their course of study.