Physician Associate Studies MSc

Start date
September, January
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught


MSc: £3,510 top-up only
More details on fees and funding


This is a top-up programme designed for students who have already graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Physician Assistant/Associate Studies from a UK or Irish university. This a flexible programme so you can work professionally while studying for your Masters.

Please do not apply for this top-up programme unless you already have a Postgraduate Diploma in Physician Associate Studies.

As the PA profession continues to grow in the UK, physician associates are increasingly becoming involved in academia, research and leadership roles. Many of these roles require PAs to have a Masters qualification.

Being able to carry out research and quality improvement work is also becoming increasingly common as part of PA roles in the clinical environment, utilising the continuity that PAs offer to the medical team. PAs should be able to identify areas for improvement, be able to thoughtfully consider the ethics surrounding the issue and be able to design and carry out some research to further investigate and offer solutions. The MSc ‘top up’ physician associate programme will support you in learning these skills.

The programme includes a module designed to support you in research methods, followed by a dissertation. As a PA working in the UK, these tend to be linked to your place of clinical work, although this is not a requirement. 

This programme utilises your previous learning, as well as allowing you to continue to work as a physician associate whilst gaining this qualification, leading to you being able to support your workplace with research and quality improvement. This also supports your progression as you gain experience in this area, which can be used to evidence in the HEE MAPs Core Capabilities Framework. 

Why study this course?

  • The longest running, and one of only a handful of courses allowing you to ‘top up’ your PGDip to a MSc in physician associate studies
  • 100% distance learning and can be completed around clinical and other commitments
  • Research Methods module run by an experienced researcher, who provides support to students when producing their research proposal
  • Dissertation supported by those with strong links to the physician associate profession at national level, with an interest in supporting you to develop your research skills and apply that knowledge in your own career


The course runs in two parts:

Research Methods Module

This distance learning module covers the techniques needed to critically appraise published research, and carry out a piece of original research. Topics include the scientific method applied to human services, literature search techniques, research design, sampling, the organisation of a research project, research ethics, measurement techniques, the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data, the presentation of results, and dissemination.

Please note: students with significant relevant previous research experience may be exempted from being required to complete this module.


This module provides you with an opportunity to use the professional understanding you have developed through practice and through the taught component of the PGDip Physician Associate programme as a foundation for planning and undertaking a major piece of scholarly work (usually but not exclusively a piece of research). You are expected to demonstrate novel thinking in an area relevant to physician associate practice or to the development of the physician associate profession. Although academic supervision will be provided, the main impetus for the work and the critical thinking with regard to subject, approach and presentation must come from you.

The following are examples of previously submitted dissertations for the MSc Physician Associate programme:

  • “The Safety of a Physician Associate Led Virtual Outpatient Department in Colorectal
    and General Surgery”
  • “Are Physician Associates in Scotland satisfied in their roles?”
  • “When to suspect cauda equina syndrome in patients presenting to the Emergency Department with back pain: a retrospective case notes study”
  • “The contribution of physician associates (PAs) in general
    practice in the United Kingdom (UK): A qualitative study”
  • “The effectiveness of a low-carbohydrate versus a low-fat diet on the blood glucose and anthropometric measurements of overweight and obese adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis”
  • “Does surgical technique benefit lower back pain in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis following decompressive surgery.”




£3,510  - top up only

Self funding students can choose to pay in instalments by direct debit.

Please note: this programme is open to UK students only.

Learn more about fees and funding.


For information about all Home and International funding opportunities please visit the Postgraduate Funding Database.

For other funding queries contact the School directly or get in touch with the Student Funding Office via the online enquiries system.

How To Apply

Please do not apply for this top-up programme unless you already have a Postgraduate Diploma in Physician Associate studies.

How to apply for our taught postgraduate programmes

Application deadlines

The deadline for international students (including EU) to apply is 7 May 2024. The deadline for UK students is 30 August 2024.

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

You will need to have gained a PGDip in Physician Assistant/Associate Studies from a UK or Irish university.

International Requirements

You will identify a research project in liaison with a Birmingham academic. You will then be supervised through gathering the data and analysis and write-up and hopefully publication.

Student support

We take supporting our students very seriously at the Birmingham Medical School. Studying Physician Associate Studies brings with it not only a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction but also times when you may require additional support to aid you through some of the tough and turbulent times you may face. We have a broad range of support available for all our students, from professionally trained staff to dedicated tutors.

Assessment Methods

10,000 word dissertation.

A Masters qualification for a PA is an important step into the higher echelons of the profession, especially for those aiming for leadership roles in the NHS or in academia.

Careers Network – We can help you get ahead in the job market and develop your career

We recognise that as a postgraduate student you are likely to have specific requirements when it comes to planning for your next career step. Employers expect postgraduates to have a range of skills that exceed their subject knowledge. Careers Network offers a range of events and support services that are designed for all students, including postgraduates looking to find their niche in the job market. The Careers Network also have subject specific careers consultants and advisers for each College so you can be assured the information you receive will be relevant to your subject area. For more information visit the Careers Network website