Physician Associate Studies, Newcastle University

Newcastle University the United Kingdom

For more information about Physician Associate Studies at Newcastle University, please visit the webpage using the button above.

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How long you will study
24 Months

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About Physician Associate Studies at Newcastle University

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.

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:

  • six 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
  • a six week apprenticeship 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 a ten week senior apprenticeship of which the placement in the last four weeks can be selected by the student to meet any specific needs they may have as they move towards employment. 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.


Alongside learning basic clinical theory you will undertake clinical placements. You will spend at least 1600 hours in clinical placements within NHS trusts and primary care providers in the North East. 


Students benefit from a:

  • clinical skills laboratory for acquisition of clinical/procedural skills in a safe, monitored environment
  • simulation laboratory to practice emergency care scenarios on our simulation mannequins
  • unique virtual learning environment for access to high-quality online learning resources and pre-recorded lecture material.

See Programme information online to get full How to Apply details.

Study options for this course

  • The award How you will study How long you will study Course starts Domestic course fees International course fees
  • The awardMScHow you will studyFull-timeHow long you will study24 months
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Notes about fees for this course

See our course fees and funding webpage -

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.

English Language requirements:

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

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