Physician Associate Studies PGDip – 2023 entry

Key information

Start date: September 2023

Study mode and duration
Full-time: 2 years

Why choose this course

  • Study a hands-on, clinical curriculum, where you’ll learn to support doctors (based in GP surgeries and hospitals) with taking medical histories, performing examinations, diagnosing illnesses, analysing test results and developing management plans
  • Access our Clinical Simulation Centre, including our wards and Immersive Learning Environment, to practise real scenarios on lifelike manikins and actors
  • Spend half of your training in clinical placements, to practise your skills in primary and secondary care settings, under the supervision of qualified practitioners
  • Learn from lecturers with international recognition for their expertise in medicine, who are all healthcare professionals currently working in the NHS, including registered physician associates
  • Get the academic requirements needed to complete the National Examination for Physician Associates and register with the General Medical Council (GMC) to practise clinically once you’ve graduated.
Student during a practise

The role of a physician associate

What you will study

We’ll give you the skills you need to assess, diagnose and manage various medical problems as a self-assured, confident healthcare professional. Spending time with an experienced senior doctor, whether working under supervision or alongside your mentor, you'll assist patients who present with numerous different conditions.

You’ll develop the well-rounded knowledge and skills that modern practice demands and potential employers search for. You’ll leave us with the skills you need to make an impact in this new, exciting position in the NHS.

Please be aware: the course content and modules listed for this course are subject to change for the 2023/24 academic year, whilst we undertake a curriculum design review. Please contact the programme leader if you have any queries about the course.

Clinical placements

In your first year, you’ll spend one day a week in a clinical placement within a primary care setting, at a doctors’ surgery in Surrey or Sussex. The remaining four days will consist of classroom teaching, including using our simulation facilities. In your second year, you’ll spend most of your time in a secondary care setting in hospitals across Surrey and Hampshire, returning to Surrey for a full day of teaching every three weeks.

You’ll also benefit from educational sessions available in your allocated NHS trust, giving you an opportunity to expand on your knowledge and network with healthcare professionals.


You’ll benefit from our multi-million-pound facilities, home to our Clinical Simulation Centre, that includes two wards,a Critical Care Unit and a Community Flat. You’ll get to use equipment found in the NHS to learn how to fit cannulas, check for heart murmurs, monitor breathing and much more.

Our immersive learning environment, life like manikins and actors will transport you to the centre of hospital wards, so you can practise your skills and get a taste of scenarios you may face during your training and when you’re fully qualified.

You’ll get exclusive access to our Independent Clinical Learning Space. The room is set up each week with the necessary equipment required to practise the techniques you’ll be learning.When you go onto a clinical placement, you can also use your trust’s facilities, which may include simulation suites.

Teaching staff

You’ll be taught by a multidisciplinary team of lecturers who are all healthcare professionals currently working in theNHS.Many are also active researchers, investigating topics such as cancer, dementia, ethics and compassionate practice. These may include Roz Clegg, who’s been a qualified physician associate for over 10 years, and Sam Voller, a Surrey alumnus and qualified physician associate working in respiratory medicine.

You’ll also be taught by guest lecturers who are consultants from the Royal Surrey County Hospital and Frimley Park Hospital.

Throughout your placements, you'll have an educational supervisor, who’s a senior clinician. They'll guide you through your experience and feed into your evidence portfolio.


When you join, you’ll be assigned a second-year physician associate student as part of our buddy system. They have first-hand knowledge of clinical placements and assessments, and can give you vital feedback and support throughout your studies. When you move into your second year, we recommend you maintain your relationship with your mentor as they can give you an insight into the day-to-day life of a qualified physician associate.


We use a variety of methods to assess you, including case studies, examinations, presentations, simulated learning experiences (objective structured clinical examinations – OSCEs, mapped against the criteria used in the National Assessment for Physician Associates, which you’ll take once you graduate) and written work. When you’re out on placement, your knowledge, skills and professional behaviour will be assessed by your mentors.

Check individual module information to see full details at a module level.


Careers and graduate prospects

We offer careers information, advice and guidance to all students whilst studying with us, which is extended to our alumni for three years after leaving the University. Our graduates have lifetime access to Surrey Pathfinder, our online portal for appointment and events bookings, jobs, placements and interactive development tools.

On successful completion of this course, you can take the National Assessment for Physician Associates. Once you’ve passed this, you’ll be able to practise clinically in the UK. This assessment is set by the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Since 2018, our students have had a 100% pass rate for the written element of the assessment and 100% of our graduates from this course go on to employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes survey 2020, HESA).

All our alumni have gone on to work as physician associates in primary and secondary care settings, specialising in areas including acute medicine, emergency healthcare and neurology. Some of our first graduates from 2018, based in these settings, are now helping to teach clinical skills to our current students, sharing their experiences and knowledge of working as newly qualified physician associates.

Career prospects

In 2020, the UK Government announced it wanted 1,000 physician associates available to work in general practice. This number continues to grow, helping fill gaps in resource, with support from the NHS and the Department of Health. Over 30 hospitals across the UK currently employ physician associates.

While working in collaboration with our partners, we’ll help transform you into a physician associate who can make their mark in both primary and secondary care.

Discover more about the role of a physician associate on the NHS careers website and the Faculty of Physician Associates’ website.


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that modules may be subject to teaching availability, student demand and/or class size caps.

The University operates a credit framework for all taught programmes based on a 15-credit tariff. Modules can be either 15, 30, 45, 75 and 120 credits, and additionally for some masters dissertations, 90 credits.

The structure of our programmes follows clear educational aims that are tailored to each programme. These are all outlined in the programme specifications which include further details such as the learning outcomes:


Course timetables are normally available one month before the start of the semester. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week (Monday Friday). Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and cultural activities. Part-time classes are normally scheduled on one or two days per week, details of which can be obtained from the Academic Hive. View our Code of practice for the scheduling of teaching and assessment (PDF).

Contact hours

Contact hours can vary across our modules. Full details of the contact hours for each module are available from the University of Surrey's module catalogue. See the modules section for more information.

Entry requirements

A minimum of a 2:2 UK honours degree in anatomical sciences, biochemistry, biomedical science, biomedicine, human biology, medicinal chemistry, microbiology, neuroscience, nursing (adult, child, mental health), operating department practice, optometry, paramedic science, pharmaceutical science, or physiology, or a recognised equivalent international qualification.

We will consider the following degrees: Audiology, biological sciences, biology, health psychology, pharmacy, psychology or sport and exercise science. We'll also consider relevant work experience.

GCSE English and Maths C (or equivalent) are also required.

Applicants who have started or completed medicine degrees are not accepted (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, MBBS).

Other entry requirements

Admission to this programme is subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) Section 4 (2) (Exemptions) Order 1975 and DHSS Circular HC(88)9 guidelines regarding police checks and child protection.

Offers are conditional upon satisfactory health and fitness for practice screening, references and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance, or equivalent.

This is a regulated course that requires declaration of criminal convictions at the application stage, please visit our criminal convictions webpage for more information.

Candidates must also meet national requirements to work with vulnerable adults and children.

Applicants must be immunised against Hepatitis B before registering on the course.

International entry requirements by country

Do I meet the requirements for this course?

We require you to submit a full application so that we can formally assess whether you meet the criteria published. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide an outcome based on an enquiry (via email, webform enquiry, phone or live chat).

English language requirements

IELTS Academic: 7.0 overall with 7.0 in each element.

View the other English language qualifications that we accept.

If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

Selection process


Admissions staff will review the information provided within the personal statement and reference to assess applications for evidence of academic ability, insight and motivation. Personal statements should be comprehensive, with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online interview.


Applicants successful at the shortlisting stage will be required to attend an online interview conducted by University academics, assisted by staff from clinical practice areas. Applicants selected to attend one of our interview days will be sent detailed guidance on the interview with their invitation. Interviews will be conducted in the format of multiple mini interviews (MMIs).

Deferred entry

The course does not accept applications for deferred entry.

Covid-19 vaccinations

On 15 March 2022, regulations revoking the Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment (VCOD) for Healthcare Workers came into force. This means that it will not become a requirement for people to have received a Covid-19 vaccine in order to deliver face-to-face CQC-regulated activities in wider social care settings. Whilst we still encourage everyone to get vaccinated where they can, it is no longer a requirement for this programme.

Fees per year

Start date: September 2023

Full-time - 2 years


Please note:

  • These fees apply to students commencing study in the academic year 2023-24 only. Fees for new starters are reviewed annually
  • If you are on a two-year full-time PGDip in Physicians Associate, the annual fee is payable in Year 1 and Year 2 of the course
  • As this programme is a postgraduate diploma, and not a masters degree, you would not be eligible for the postgraduate master's loan through Student Finance England.

View the list of fees for all postgraduate taught courses.

Payment schedule

  • Students in receipt of a tuition fee loan: Will have their fees paid by the Student Loans Company in line with their schedule
  • International students, or UK/EU students who have not taken out a tuition fee loan: Are required to pay their fees either in full at the beginning of the programme or in two instalments as follows:
    • 50% payable 10 days after the invoice date (expected to be early October of each academic year)
    • 50% in January of the same academic year.

The exact date(s) will be detailed on invoices. Students on certain part-time programmes, where fees are paid on a modular or stage basis, are not eligible to pay their fees by instalment.

  • If you are sponsored: You will provide us with valid sponsorship information that covers the period of your study.

Additional costs

There are associated costs with this programme:

  • Books/ stationery/ admin: Unable to specify amount - Following successful graduation from this Diploma course, you will need to sit the National Assessment for Physician Associates, set by the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians, London. This exam is not part of the Surrey programme and therefore not covered by your course fees. For further information please refer to the Faculty of Physician Associates website
  • Commuting (local travel expenses): Unable to specify amount - In the first year students will be expected to attend a placement at a local GP surgery one day per week. In the second year students will undertake a series of clinical placements provided by local NHS Trusts. Students will be expected to meet the travel/parking costs incurred whilst on placement
  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check: The University will meet the cost of one DBS check, completed ahead of the programme commencement date. The DBS check is a programme requirement: it is mandatory that the DBS process in completed and the applicant is approved to attend before they can enrol onto the programme. Applicants offered a place on the programme will be contacted to complete the online process by the deadline specified. The process is not completed until all original documentation has been approved by an appointed DBS approver. This can be completed in advance of Applicants starting their programme using main branches of the Post Office, where there will be a £6 administration fee.


We are pleased to inform you that Physician Associate Studies PGDip students joining us in 2023 will continue to get a £5,000 training grant. The grant will be split into £2,500 per year and paid in monthly instalments. There is no application for this grant.

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS, with the programme code PA01

The programme can also be found by searching for ‘Physician Associate’ on the search function on the UCAS webpage.

Admission information

Our postgraduate admissions policy* provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students. You can also read our postgraduate applicant guidance.

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our Charter, Statutes, Ordinances, Policies, Regulations and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2022/2023 academic year as a guide as to what to expect.

Please note: the offer terms and conditions and registration terms and conditions which you will be asked to agree to may be different from those detailed in the examples. Our offer terms and conditions will generally be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will be available at the start of each academic year and will vary to take into account specifics of your course and changes for the specific academic year.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing but changes (for example, to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read our full disclaimer.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Kate Granger Building

Our Medicine (Graduate Entry) BMBS degree, nursing and midwifery, and health science courses are taught at the Kate Granger Building (30 Priestley Road), on the Surrey Research Park.

Placement location

You’ll be expected to attend clinical placements off campus. Please see the placements section for more details.

University of Surrey Admissions

Contact Admissions Team


University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH