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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Physician associate studies

BSMS > Postgraduate > Physician Associate Studies

Physician Associate Studies

Key facts


Full-time: 2 years

Eligible applicants: UK, EU, International *
(*International applicants: a UK PA qualification does not currently entitle graduates to work as PAs outside of the UK)

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

Course Leader: Mrs Karen Roberts

View Mrs Karen Roberts profile here >

General enquiries:

This course is delivered through specific faculty team at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Applications are now closed for 2020-21. Applications for 21/22 entry will be accepted from November 2020.

APPLY for the physician associate studies course HERE >

To see what some of our students have to say about this course, watch our video below.

Watch the PA video below >


Our COVID-19 contigency plans for 2020-2021 

The provision of excellence in health care has never been more important. At a time of national and global crisis, we swiftly adapted to changes and maximised opportunities for learning on our Physician Associate MSc. As a teaching team, our priorities are the safety and well-being of our students, as well as the provision of excellence in PA education. Here is what you should know about the upcoming academic year (2020-2021). 

The academic year will start as normal and term dates will not be changed. However, teaching will be delivered by a blend of in-person and online teaching, and we will adapt our timetables, teaching methods and course content to make the most of this approach. The balance of the blend will depend on the stringency of social distancing and other regulations in force at the time.

Students' praise for our move to online teaching:

“The PA team at BSMS have managed to supplement face to face teaching with online alternatives in a way that still gives us all the learning and support that we have required.”

"The Covid-19 pandemic stopped the entire world, but not the PA course. We were able to continue online and it felt just like being in university - very helpful"

Key areas of study

  • Integrated curriculum with longitudinal 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/problem-based learning 
  • Rotational attachments in regional NHS trusts in clinical specialities throughout Year 2

Course overview

This innovative course 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 and regional clinical placements and simulation facilities.

At a time of significant change in the NHS, 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. You can also keep up-to-date with our Facebook and Twitter channels.

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. 

Naomi Mayo photo
“As the mother of four children the course is undeniably challenging, however with the support of my family and the Faculty (and a lot of hard work!) I have been able to keep up with the demands and really enjoy my studies.”
Naomi Mayo, 2020 Physician Associate graduate

Course structure

Learning outcomes from the modules listed below are integrated so that students will learn about clinical medicine on a theoretical basis, practice relevant clinical skills in the classroom, followed by supervised practice with real patients in clinical attachments.

Year One

  • Biomedical and Clinical Science for PA (30 credits)
  • Case-based Learning for PA (Foundation) (45 credits)
  • Clinical Practice for PA (Foundation) (45 credits)

Year Two

  • Case-based Learning for PA (45 credits)
  • Clinical Practice for PA (Senior); a series of clinical attachments in regional secondary care trusts and CCGs (60 credits)
  • Preparation for Practice; Student Selected Component within Affiliated Trusts (15 credits)
  • Service Improvement Project (based within clinical practice rotations)

In the second year of study, students are on placement in one of the three regional trusts, usually Western Hospitals NHS Trust, East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust or Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. Time is also spent at Sussex Partnership NHS Trust doing psychiatry. While every effort is made to accommodate student preferences, no guarantees can be made of any one particular placement or location.

Career opportunities

Qualification with the MSc 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.

Following graduation from the 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 should have a first or upper second-class degree in life sciences or another health-related undergraduate degree within the past five years.

Registered health professionals with a non-life science degree (1st or 2:1) and more than five years’ clinical experience may apply in exceptional circumstances with appropriate references and a personal statement, but must have GCSE Maths and English Grade B (6) or above or equivalent.

For EU or international students an IELTS score of 7.5 or above overall with a minimum of 7.0 in each component is required in addition to the academic requirements.

Fees and funding

The fees listed below are the tuition costs for full-time courses taken in the academic year 2020-21. 


UK £9,000   

After accepting your place on the course there is a non-refundable £250 deposit required to secure your place. This is then subtracted from your tuition fees once you have started the course.

A training grant of £5,000 from Health Education England is available to all students across the two-year course. All students can also apply for a student loan whilst studying a master's degree (£10,250).

Apply here

Applications are made through the University of Brighton online portal. Applications are now closed for 2020-21. Applications for 21/22 entry will be accepted from November 2020.

APPLY for the pa course here >