Anaesthesia Associate Postgraduate Diploma

Start date
April, October
27 months full-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Distance learning, Taught

Annual tuition fee for 2024/25:
UK fees: PGDip £7,020 (paid by NHS trust)
More details on fees and funding


This programme is intended for existing health care practitioners or graduates with a science background who wish to work as part of the anaesthetic team.

This programme will develop a practitioner role that enables the anaesthesia team to have more staff working differently. Presently in the UK only doctors who have had specialist training in anaesthesia can administer anaesthetics.

The Anaesthesia Associate is a health professional who will expand the anaesthetic service and make operating theatres work more efficiently. You will work alongside other members of the anaesthetic team and under the supervision of your anaesthetist.

The programme is studied over 27 months full-time which includes 24 months of academic study and clinical training, followed by 3 months of supervised practice.

Students who have satisfactorily completed the 120 taught credits of the Postgraduate Diploma: Anaesthesia Associate will have the option of transferring to the Anaesthesia Associate MSc Programme. Award of the MSc will require the completion of an additional 60 credit Dissertation module, which would take the form of a research project of their own choosing. Please contact the programme coordinator for more details.

Further information

For further information about the role of Anaesthesia Associates, training and entry requirements please visit the Royal College of Anaesthetists website

Although they have very similar names the Anaesthesia Associate and the Physician Associate programme are very different programmes. If you are interested in joining the Physician Associate Postgraduate Diploma please visit the web pages for more information.


This programme is part of a structured training programme for the role of Anaesthesia Associate. It is fully funded by the individual NHS Trust that supports Anaesthesia Associate training.


UK: the course fees are £7,020 per student per year which are funded through the NHS Trust. This includes:

  • On-line handbooks
  • On-line tutorial plans
  • On-line electronic lectures
  • On-line Canvas discussion boards
  • Academic tutor support
  • 8-month MCQ Exam
  • 24-month MCQ Exam
  • Support for clinical tutors

Note to the NHS Trusts: It is advisable for Trusts to plan for some additional travel costs both for attendance at mock examinations, simulation training days and final examinations.

How To Apply

Places for Anaesthesia Associate Trainee roles are advertised on NHS Jobs. Applications are not made directly to the University for this course. This course is not open to international students.

The promotion of the course is carried out through the individual NHS Trusts that support Anaesthesia Associate training. Places are advertised on NHS Jobs and students apply directly to that Trust. Applications are individually assessed by the Trust and the University. Shortlisted applicants are interviewed by a Trust panel which includes consultant anaesthetists.

Students are and remain employees of the Trust throughout the 27 months of the programme and students whose employment with the Trust ceases are required to withdraw from the programme. 

Our Standard Requirements

Applicants are required to successfully obtain a job post as a trainee Anaesthesia Associate within a trust, who then put names forward to be enrolled onto the programme. Trusts usually advertise for these positions from May onwards. This can differ between trusts depending on when funding is secured. Trusts that advertise change year on year.

The programme is open to applicants from two different routes:

1. Registered health care practitioners (eg, nurses, operating department practitioners) require one or both of the following:

  • At least three years’ full-time, post-qualification work experience in a relevant area.
  • A first degree in a health-related subject

2. New entrants to health care (graduates or graduate equivalent) require:

  • A biomedical science or biological science background
  • Preferably a second-class Honours degree or better, or other evidence of recent and successful academic activity
  • A demonstrable commitment to a career in health care

Learn more about entry requirements

International Requirements

The programme is made up of 12 two-month blocks of teaching. Each block lasts for approximately 35 days to allow for holidays and is broken down as follows:

  • Directed self study – 70 hours
  • Small group teaching – 14 hours
  • Clinical skills teaching – 21 hours
  • Workplace experience – 140 hours

A typical week may consist of:

  • 1 2-hour tutorial
  • 2-3 days in the clinical area
  • ½ day clinical skills training
  • 1½ days self-directed study, e.g. working through the e-lectures

The blocks are as follows:

  • Block 1 – Introduction to clinical practice (1)
  • Block 2 – Introduction to clinical practice (2)
  • Block 3 – Introduction to anaesthesia
  • Block 4 – Physics in anaesthesia
  • Block 5 – The anaesthesia machine and monitoring
  • Block 6 – The heart and circulation
  • Block 7 – The airways and lungs
  • Block 8 – The kidneys, liver, endocrine system and blood
  • Block 9 – The brain and nervous system
  • Block 10 –Clinical history and examination
  • Block 11 –Management of life-threatening emergencies
  • Block 12 –Advanced practice

Assessment Methods

Students attend the University for an induction day, exams and the mock OSCE. The final OSCE examination takes place at the Royal College of Anaesthetists in London.

This programme is part of a structured training programme for the role of Anaesthesia Associate.

Anaesthesia Associates (previously known as physicians' assistants (anaesthesia)) are part of the multi-disciplinary anaesthesia team, led by a consultant anaesthetist, that looks after patients undergoing many aspects of critical care. 

While studying on this programme you will be employed by the Trust you apply to, and your employment will continue throughout the duration of the course. 

To find out more about the role of an Anaesthesia Associate, visit the NHS Health Careers pages, which provide information on working life in this role, and where your career as an Anaesthesia Associate can take you. 

Further information on the role of Anaesthesia Associates is available on the website of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA).