Why choose this course
Physician associates support doctors, based in GP surgeries and hospitals, with taking medical histories, performing examinations, diagnosing illnesses, analysing test results, and developing management plans.
On our PGDip Physician Associate Studies course, we’ll teach you the skills you need to make an impact in this new, exciting position in the NHS. You’ll develop the well-rounded knowledge and skills that modern practice demands and which potential employers search for.
You’ll be taught by academics with international recognition for their expertise in medicine, who will inspire you with their wealth of knowledge and experience.
By the time you complete the course, you will be able to provide medical care to a standard as defined by the National Examination for Physician Associates, allowing you to work in either primary or secondary care.
What you will study
Throughout the course, you’ll develop your clinical skills in simulated and real environments, going out on placements in primary and secondary care settings.
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.
The role of a Physician Associate
You can find out more about the role from the Faculty of Physician Associates. To understand what a Physician Associate does on a day-to- day basis, Health Education England have produced a Day in the Life of a Physician Associate video.
In your first year, you’ll spend one day a week in a clinical placement in 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.
Throughout your placements, you'll have an educational supervisor, who is a senior clinician. They'll guide you through your experience and feed into your evidence portfolio.
You’ll be taught by guest lecturers who are consultants from the Royal Surrey County Hospital and Frimley Park Hospital. You’ll also benefit from educational sessions available in your allocated National Health Service (NHS) Trust, giving you an opportunity to expand on your knowledge and network with healthcare professionals.
Our facilities have recently undergone a multi-million pound investment, giving you access to the latest industry equipment including our Clinical Simulation Centre, consisting of two large wards, an operating theatre, a community flat and an ambulance bay. Here you’ll get to practise real scenarios using lifelike mannequins as patients, fitting cannulas, checking for heart murmurs, monitoring breathing and much more. You’ll also take your Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) here, which assess your clinical technique. These are mapped against the criteria used in the National Assessment for Physician Associates, which you will take once you graduate.
As one of our students, you’ll also get exclusive access to our independent clinical learning room. The room is set up each week with the necessary equipment required to practise the techniques you’ll be learning. And when you go onto a clinical placement, you can use your Trust’s facilities, which may include simulation suites.
We have a clinical-led focus to our teaching, ensuring everything you learn is up-to-date and relevant to an NHS care setting. Our lecturers are all current healthcare professionals working in the NHS, including Roz Clegg, who’s been a qualified Physician Associate for over 10 years. You'll also be taught by a multidisciplinary team of guest lecturers, made up of local doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers.
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.
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.
On successful completion of our PGDip Physician Associate Studies course, you can take the National Assessment for Physician Associates, which will allow you to practise clinically in the UK. This 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.
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.
You will find career prospects for graduates are excellent in the UK. The UK Government has announced that it wants 1,000 physician associates available to work in general practice by 2020. Studying to become a Physician Associate puts you in a great position, especially because of the predicted growth of physician associate roles across the NHS to fill important gaps in resources. By becoming a Physician Associate, you will progress in a position that is supported by the NHS and the Department of Health.
Over 30 hospitals across the UK currently employ physician associates, and these numbers continue to grow at a promising rate. We, while working in collaboration with our partners, will help transform you into a Physician Associate who can make their mark in primary as well as secondary care. Find out more on the NHS careers 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.
Important: In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the University has had to change the delivery (and in some cases the content) of its programmes, together with certain University services and facilities for the 2020/21 academic year. These changes include the implementation of a hybrid teaching approach. View detailed information on the changes.
The University operates a credit framework for all taught programmes based on a 15-credit tariff. Modules can be either 15, 30, 45 or 60, 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 Timetabling Policy (PDF).
A minimum of a 2:2 UK honours degree in either 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.
Admission is also subject to NHS eligibility for the programme. Proof of eligibility is normally required prior to interview.
Applicants must be immunised against Hepatitis B before registering on the course.
View 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: 7.5 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.
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 interview and selection day.
Applicants successful at the shortlisting stage will be required to attend an 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).
The course does not accept applications for deferred entry.
Start date: September 2021
Full-time - 2 years
- These fees apply to students commencing study in the academic year 2021-22 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.
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 2021 will continue to get a £5000 training grant. The grant will be split into £2500 per year and paid in monthly instalments. There is no application for this grant.
Scholarships and bursaries
We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.
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Application Deadline: 17.05.21
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How to apply
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and 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 an example of our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: 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 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 more.
Further, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has had to change the delivery (and in some cases the content) of its programmes, together with certain University services and facilities for the academic year 2020/21. These changes include the implementation of a hybrid teaching approach during 2020/21. Detailed information on all changes is available at our dedicated course changes webpage. This webpage sets out information relating to general University changes, and will also direct you to consider additional information relating to specific programmes.
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Our health sciences, nursing and midwifery courses are taught at the Kate Granger Building (30 Priestley Road), on the Surrey Research Park.