Physician Associate Studies MSc

Physician Associate Studies MSc

Full time: 24 months


Our course will prepare you for the National Physician Associate entrance exam. Successful completion of the exam allows you to work as a Physician Associate (PA) within the NHS. You will gain skills in history taking, physical examination and diagnosis. You will also study clinical theory and undertake clinical placements.

Your course during COVID-19

Whilst things will not be the same when you join us in September, this course page is intended to give you insight into what to expect from your course and your learning experience for the duration of your degree.

We have updated all course information where there are specific changes in the first semester.


Most of our student services are now available online. As COVID-19 restrictions lift, we'll be opening up our on-campus facilities as soon as it is safe to do so, so that you can get the best out of your studies.

Your learning experience

Your teaching will be a mixture of online and in-person on-campus teaching. In semester one, as a result of physical distancing requirements, all lecture materials will be delivered online along with many tutorials, workshops and labs.

Our aim, if Government guidance allows us, is to deliver up to three hours of labs, seminars and tutorial teaching in-person on campus where this is possible and safe to do so. We'll review this regularly and plan to return to full in-person, on-campus teaching in semester two if restrictions allow.

If you’re studying for an MRes, MMus or MLitt programme, the number of hours may vary from this. For more information, please contact your supervisor or academic school.


In semester one, we will not be running face-to-face, on-campus examinations. We will instead use different approaches to assessment. These will test and support your learning.

Field trips

We will be running some but not all of our planned field trips. Some of those that do run, will be run virtually. For those that do not run, we will be offering alternative learning activities. These learning activities will give you the opportunity to achieve the same learning.

Work placements

There may be some restrictions on work placement opportunities. 

Further information

Our COVID-19 Study page gives more information about your Newcastle University 2020 study experience.

Terms and conditions and student complaints

The University has terms and conditions which create a positive environment for learning and academic achievement.

Given the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commitments outlined are subject to the guidelines that may be in place at the time.

About this course

This course will equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to qualify as a Physician Associate (PA). PAs are healthcare professionals with a generalist medical education who work alongside doctors, physicians, GPs and surgeons to provide medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team.

PAs are dependent practitioners working with a dedicated consultant or GP supervisor, but are able to work autonomously with appropriate support. The course will suit graduates of a bioscience discipline.

PAs, while not doctors, work to the medical model, with the attitudes, skills and knowledge base to deliver holistic care and treatment with the general medical and/or general practice team under defined levels of supervision.

Our programme will teach you how to work to the medical model including:

  • how to consult with patients effectively
  • taking medical histories
  • performing physical examinations
  • requesting and interpreting tests
  • diagnosing illness or injuries
  • developing treatment and management plans
  • counselling on preventative healthcare 

You will develop your understanding of clinical practice through a combination of:

  • case based self-directed learning
  • clinical skills laboratory teaching
  • hands on experience in clinical settings 

Additionally, you will develop core knowledge in preparation for the clinical workplace. This will include appropriate knowledge of:

  • anatomy
  • biochemistry
  • physiology
  • pharmacology
  • immunology
  • microbiology
  • neurology

On completion of the course you will be able to take the National Physician Associate qualifying exam. Satisfactory performance allows you to begin work as a PA within the NHS. The exam is overseen by the Faculty of Physician Associates within the Royal College of Physicians.

The course draws on Newcastle University’s considerable excellence in medical training. It was developed in association with Health Education North East.

To learn more about what a PA does in practice, read ‘An employer’s guide to physician associates’.


Year one runs over 46 weeks and includes:

  • five weeks training in clinical, communication and diagnostic skills using mannequin-based and role play simulations
  • a 27 week team-based learning course introducing core clinical knowledge through clinical case studies 
  • one day a week in a primary care setting developing history taking and examination skills
  • up to a five week placement in a hospital based setting to introduce the role of the PA
  • introduction to research methodologies and preparation for undertaking the dissertation element in Year 2

Year two comprises 34 weeks of essential rotations in the following areas followed by a two week assessment period:

  • eight weeks of emergency medicine
  • three weeks of mental health
  • six weeks of community medicine/primary care 
  • three weeks of obstetrics and gynaecology
  • three weeks of paediatrics
  • eight weeks of general medicine
  • three weeks of general surgery 

You will then undertake an eight-week senior apprenticeship. Trainees will work as PAs under clinical supervision.

During the second year you will complete a 7,500 word dissertation which will represent audit or research to support patient safety and/or quality improvement.

Related Degrees

  • Medical Education MMedEd, PGDip, PGCert

    Our course allows medical educators to enhance their educational practice and knowledge. You'll gain expertise in effective medical education in the context of your practice.

  • Education (Clinical) MPhil, PhD

    Research in the School of Medical Education focuses on how we better understand and improve education within the classroom and clinical context. We especially welcome MPhil and PhD applications that are innovative and creative.

All related programmes

Fees & Funding

2020-2021 fees



Year 1 £9,250

Year 2 £9,250 (this fee may be subject to an inflationary increase)


Year 1 £9,250

Year 2 £9,250 (this fee may be subject to an inflationary increase)


Year 1 £22,800

Year 2 £22,800 (this fee may be subject to an inflationary increase)


For 2020 entry Health Education England North East (HEENE) will support eligible students enrolled onto the MSc Physician Associate Studies course with an education bursary of £2,500 in each year of study

Eligible students will also be able to apply for a Postgraduate Master's Loan.

Find out more about our tuition fees, including how to pay them and available discounts.

EU students starting at Newcastle in 2020 will pay the UK (Home) tuition fee for the full duration of their course.

Funding opportunities

Entry Requirements

A 2:1 honours degree, or international equivalent, in a bioscience or related subject.

Some examples of degrees we regard as generally suitable are:

  • anatomy
  • biology
  • biochemistry/medical biochemistry
  • biomedical science
  • dentistry
  • human biology/physiology/pharmacology
  • medical sciences
  • Operating Theatre Practitioner
  • pharmacy
  • physiotherapy
  • podiatry
  • psychology (with a biological orientation)
  • radiography
  • zoology

If you have a Health Sciences Diploma (eg Nursing) with extensive clinical experience, we may also consider you. We do not consider applications from candidates who have previously commenced a medical degree and failed to progress for any reason.

Find out the equivalent qualifications for your country.

Use the drop down above to find your country. If your country isn't listed please email: for further information.

English Language Requirements

To study this course you need to meet the following English Language requirements:

Direct Entry: IELTS 7.5 overall (with a minimum of 7.0 in all sub-skills).

Pre-sessional English Language courses are not accepted as an alternative entry to this course.

Our typical English Language requirements are listed as IELTS scores but we also accept a wide range of English Language tests.

How to Apply

You apply online, track your application and contact the admissions team via our applicant portal. Our step by step guide can help you on your way.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 30 April 2020. We have one intake per year with students beginning their studies in early September each year. 


If you are short-listed you will need to attend a 25 minute interview. This is to confirm that you have the aptitude, motivation and personal qualities to succeed as a student and physician associate.

Two selectors from a wide pool of clinicians, educators and non-practitioners conduct the interview. They will assess you on six categories:

  • preparation and motivation for study
  • effective learning skills
  • team working
  • personal qualities/resilience
  • interpersonal and communication skills 
  • empathy, sensitivity and integrity

Interviews will take place in January, February, March, April and May. We will not issue any offers to successful candidates until all interviews have been completed. Therefore, you will be notified by email or through the Applicant portal of the outcome in mid-late May. If you have limited availability for interview please contact us.


If you live outside the UK/EU you must:

  • pay a deposit of £1,500
  • or submit an official letter of sponsorship

The deposit is payable after you receive an offer to study at Newcastle University. The deposit is non-refundable, but is deducted from your tuition fees when you register.


Course Administrator
School of Medical Education
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6616