Physician Associate Studies


2023/24 Full-time Postgraduate course


Master of Science


Faculty of Life and Health Sciences


School of Medicine


Magee campus

Start date:

January 2024

This course is now closed for International applications for September 2023


Two year intensive Master's programme training Physician Associates to deliver first contact medical care at the point of qualification.


***Applications for the January 2024 intake will close on 16th June 2023. Shortlisting and interviews will be scheduled in late July and August 2023. ***

A Physician Associate (PA) is a healthcare professional trained in the medical model to work with the medical team in order to deliver medical care to patients. PAs work under the supervision of a doctor in a range of specialities in both primary and secondary care. PAs are trained to take medical histories, carry out physical examinations, formulate diagnosis, request and interpret tests and investigations, undertake procedures and develop treatment and management plans.

The MSc in Physician Associate Studies aims to ensure students receive the required education and training in line with requirements of the national curriculum, enabling graduates to be successful in completion of the programme. It also aims to ensure that graduates are safe and competent clinicians, at the point of qualification.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course


This intensive Master's programme is delivered full-time over 2 years. Year 1 is mainly theoretical and University based (5 days/ week) with 1 day per week in primary or secondary care (~100hrs) from the middle of year 1. Year 2 is mainly spent on clinical attachment with one day every 10 weeks back in University for further teaching and assessment. Students will develop a sound knowledge base in clinical medicine and develop comprehensive clinical examination skills which form the basis of their generalist medical education enabling them to enter work in any medical speciality. From that point, they develop the specialist knowledge required to progress their careers and care for patients.


Attendance is full time and based on the Magee Campus with clinical placements throughout Northern Ireland. Students are expected to attend all scheduled lectures, problem based learning sessions, clinical skills labs and clinical placement.

Start dates

  • January 2024

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The programme uses a variety of teaching methods to deliver the curriculum. Students will learn through classroom, problem, peer assisted and practice based learning. Students will also be expected to be independent and self-directed in their studies using all of the opportunities available to practice and revise. Students are required to participate in sessions particularly clinical exam skills and must be motivated to engage.

The programme uses both formative and summative methods to assess students. These are in the form of essays, reflections, case histories, single best answer questions, short answer questions, and OSCE examinations.

The course content will be delivered by appropriately qualified healthcare professionals who are expert in their fields and understand the role of the PA.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (20%) or Lecturers (55%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advanced HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures correct for academic year 2021-2022.

Magee campus


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Derry~Londonderry Campus Location

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Campus Address

Ulster University,
Northland Rd,
BT48 7JL

T: 02870 123 456

Standard entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must be graduates with at least a 2:2 degree classification (or equivalent overseas qualification) in a life science or health-related subject (which must contain significant elements of basic medical sciences), normally obtained within the last five years. Applicants must also have experience of paid or voluntary work with people, preferably in a health or social care context; a pass in GCSE Maths and English Language grades A-C; evidence of English language attainment if English is not the first language.

Applicants with non-standard entry qualifications which do not meet all the above criteria may be considered for entry at the discretion of the Course Committee. These potential applicants may be asked to submit a transcript from their undergraduate degree programme or asked to take some further modules in basic medical sciences at level 4 or equivalent, to meet the required levels of sciences required for application to the PA programme.

Offers are made on the basis of the written application and an interview/assessment process held on the Magee campus in Northern Ireland. You will also be required along with your application to submit a short personal statement outlining why you are applying for the course. Due to the nature of the programme you will be expected to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, police checks in line with NI law and occupational health screening. Offers are conditional, based on the successful completion of these processes.

Applicants must declare if they have been on another PA programme or a medical/healthcare professional register as per the application form and reasons for leaving the programme or register (where applicable). Failure to declare this will result in termination of the application or place on the programme. If you are already a registered healthcare professional you will be required to provide details of your registration.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

Accrediation of Prior Learning will be assessed by the Course Commitee on a case by case basis.

Careers & opportunities

Career options

There have already been jobs advertised in Northern Ireland for experienced PAs and for newly graduated PAs as part of a New Graduate Year in a broad range of specialities across Northern Ireland. Our goal is to train and retain our graduates in Northern Ireland and we work with the Department of Health, the HSCTs and primary care providers to try and achieve this.

Once qualified, PAs can work across a range of specialities throughout medicine. There are also opportunities to work in education and develop as potential future leaders of the PA profession.

Work placement / study abroad

Clinical placement is a core element of this programme and is delivered over both years. It is fundamental ensuring that students are able to practice application of their newly acquired clinical medical knowledge and skills.

These placements will be based in and around Northern Ireland and students will be required to travel distances to their placements.


Start dates

  • January 2024

Fees and funding

Important notice - Tuition fees for this course may vary

Visit Tuition Fees 2023/24 for more details on the price of this course.

Fees (total cost)

Additional mandatory costs

In order to ensure your safety and to permit you to fully avail of the many learning opportunities you may require vaccinations which will incur additional costs.

The University is not responsible for costs of travel or accommodation directly incurred in relation to undertaking the programme. Students also have additional costs to cover in relation to Occupational Health screening. Students will also have to pay for their membership to the Faculty of Physician Associates if they wish to join and also for the PA National Examination to enter into professional practice.

Additional items, for example, stethoscopes and textbooks will be required.

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information visit


  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
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UU Graduate: Kylan Allsop

"Ulster University Physician Associate programme is a unique and extremely rewarding course. While the course is extremely challenging, it has been the most rewarding 2 and a half years of my life....pushing me to the absolute limit, beyond what I even thought was possible. Sat here now as a qualified physician associate...about to start my new exciting career in care of the elderly, I sincerely believe the course equipped me with everything and more. The course team are excellent and more and go beyond what should be expected and make sure you have all the quality tools needed to succeed as a physician associate and pass the national exams. I feel extremely proud to have chosen a career as a physician associate and represent this newly growing profession."

UU Graduate: Lindsay Nelson

"Ulster University's Physician Associate Studies programme has successfully equipped me with the medical knowledge, communication tools and practical skills necessary to become a competent PA. Whilst fast paced and intense, the course provides excellent teaching of the core scientific modules and uses various methods such as problem based learning to improve diagnostic skills and ability to formulate management plans. Being part of a small cohort has been hugely beneficial, making lecturers readily available for help and advice if required. Early access to the clinical environment and patients has not only been critical in developing my skills as a clinician but has also allowed me to further appreciate how important PA's will be within our healthcare system and learn how work as part of a multidisciplinary team. Being a PA provides such scope, allowing us to work in many specialities, and taking on many tasks from running clinics to being first assist in surgery.”

Jeanine Watkins: Chair of the Physician Associate Schools Council

"I welcome the news from Ulster University regarding significant investment from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland in the Physician Associate profession. I hope that this will enable the profession to be embedded and flourish, providing new avenues for graduates into the NHS, and additional capacity for the medical workforce in the delivery of healthcare for the people of Northern Ireland.”

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