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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Physician associate studies

BSMS > Postgraduate > Physician Associate Studies

Physician Associate Studies

Key facts

Postgraduate Clinical Diploma

Full-time: 2 years

Location: University of Brighton, Falmer campus, University of Sussex Falmer campus

Course Leader: Dr Wesley Scott-Smith >

General enquiries:


This course is jointly validated by the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex and will be delivered through faculty at the medical school and affiliated NHS trusts and CCGs in the region. 


Key areas of study

  • Integrated curriculum with clinical placements in primary care throughout Year 1
  • Anatomy delivered using prosection
  • Access to learning materials from the undergraduate medical course 
  • Simulated-based learning throughout the curriculum
  • Clinical reasoning strategies for diagnosis in case-based learning 
  • Rotational attachments in local NHS trusts in clinical specialities throughout Year 2

Course overview

At a time of significant change in the NHS, Physician Associates (PAs) are playing an increasingly valuable role supporting doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients. The PA is a relatively new role in the NHS, working alongside doctors in hospitals and GP surgeries, supporting the diagnosis and management of patients.

This innovative course, designed in partnership with universities in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, provides students with the knowledge, professional and clinical skills to work as a PA. The integrated curriculum borrows from the successful undergraduate course at BSMS with augmentation through intensive discussion of clinical cases in small groups, and includes significant time in local clinical placements and simulation facilities.

For further information on Physician Associates, please visit

To understand what a Physician Associate does on a day-to-day basis, Health Education England (West Midlands) have produced this informative Day in the Life of a Physician Associate video. 

smiling students

“The varied and interactive teaching style at BSMS, including being able to view prosections in anatomy and developing clinical practice techniques, really solidifies our learning and means that I’m learning a lot really quickly, which is really exciting!”

Katie Morgan-Jones, NHS Clinical Assistant and Physician Associate student 

Course structure

The course is assessed using Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) and Knowledge tests at the end of each year. The latter consist of 120/240 Single Best Answer Questions for Years 1 and 2 respectively, and the OSCEs will adopt a typical multi-station approach. These tests are conducted as ‘Pass/Fail’ assessments; with a resit period available should any student fail their initial attempt. As part of the Clinical Practice – Foundation module, a number of clinical practice placements in local NHS CCGs affiliated with BSMS will be completed by the individual throughout the year.

In order to achieve accredited PA status, students will also be required to pass the Physician Associate National Examinations. These take place in January, March and September each year.

Year One

MDM151 Biomedical and Clinical Science for PA (30 credits)

MDM152 Case-based learning for PA (Foundation) (45 credits)

MDM153 Clinical Practice for PA (Foundation)  (45 credits)

Year Two

MDM154 Case-based learning for PA  (45 credits)

MDM155 Clinical Practice for PA (Senior) (60 credits)

MDM156 Preparation for Practice (15 credits)

Career opportunities

Qualification with the PG Diploma in Physician Associate Studies and successful completion of the national examination will allow alumnae to work in a variety of healthcare settings including general medicine, paediatrics, and in community settings. Local trusts have already developed workforce plans for PA posts, including East Surrey Hospital, where PAs are well established.

Following graduation from the PA course, and subsequent completion of the Physician Associate National Examinations, PAs can expect starting salaries of Agenda for Change Band 7. Progression thereafter will be dependent on competency, attributes and opportunities to progress to higher pay scales.

As the PA role has been identified as a key emergent profession within the NHS, it is envisaged a large number of job vacancies will become available locally and nationally in the coming years.

Entry requirements

Applicants must have gained a 1st or 2:1 in a Life Sciences degree or other health-related undergraduate degree obtained within the last 5 years. Registered health professionals with more than 5 years' clinical experience may apply in exceptional circumstances with appropriate references and a personal statement.

In addition, all applicant must have GCSE Maths and English Grade A*-B or equivalent.

For EU students, an IELTS score of 7.5 or above is required in addition to the academic requirements

This course is only open to applications from UK/ EU/ Island residents.

Fees and funding 


PG Clinical Diploma

UK/EU/Island students £9,000 per annum

Apply here

Applications are made through the University of Brighton online portal.