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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, International*

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

Course Leader: Mrs Karen Roberts

View Mrs Karen Roberts profile here >

General enquiries:

*International applicants: a UK PA qualification does not currently entitle graduates to work as PAs outside of the UK.

This course is delivered through specific teaching faculty at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. 

Applications are now open for 2022/23 entry. The deadline to apply is 13 February 2022. Submissions after that date may be considered, but there is no guarantee. Please apply early for your best chance of success! We begin interviewing in December 2021, using a Multiple-Mini Interview format. Detailed information will be sent to applicants offered an interview.

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

Watch the PA video below >

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 Sciences for PAs – A (includes case-based learning) (60 credits)
  • Clinical Skills for PAs – A (includes communication and physical exam skills) (30 credits)
  • Clinical Practice for PAs – A (GP placements) (15 credits)
  • Pharmacology and Prescribing for PAs (15 credits)

Year Two

  • Biomedical and Clinical Sciences for PAs – B (30 credits)
  • Clinical Skills for PAs – B (15 credits)
  • Clinical Practice for PAs – B (clinical placements in regional secondary care trusts and GPs) (60 credits)
  • Preparation for Practice (student selected placement within affiliated trusts) (15 credits)
  • Service Improvement Project (30 credits)

In the second year of study, students are on placement in one of the three regional trusts, usually  East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust or University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation 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.

Term dates - 2021-22

Year 1

Term one: 9 September – 16 December 2021
Term two: 4 January – 13 April 2022
Term three (includes assessment period): 20 April – 31 July 2022

Year 2

Term one: 2 August – 17 December 2022
Term two: 4 January – 13 April 2022
Term three (includes assessment period): 20 April – 31 July 2022

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. Applicants with a degree awarded more than five years ago may apply but should have clinical experience and may be asked to write an academic essay as part of the application process.

For non native English speakers students an IELTS score of 7.5 or above is required in addition to the academic requirements.

Covid vaccine mandate

The UK government has made it a legal requirement that all people working in a health and social care setting regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) must be fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. This rule is already in place for social care settings and comes into effect for health care settings on 1 April 2022. This requirement only applies to England and not to Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Find out more here >

Fees and funding

The fees listed below are the tuition costs for full-time courses taken in the academic year 2022/23. 

With effect from 2021/22 onwards, EU nationals starting new postgraduate courses will pay international fees and will not be eligible for student funding from the UK government. However, there are exceptions to this for Irish nationals and EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. For the latest information, please see


UK £10,500 

International fee £18,975

After accepting your place on the course there is a non-refundable £500 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. Please note that students do not need to apply for this.

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 open for 2022/23 entry. In your personal statement, please be sure to include your motivation to be a PA and why you do not want to be a doctor. We want to see your understanding of the PA role and how you would fit into the medical team. You do not need to tell us what PAs are or what they do.

APPLY for the pa course here >