Entrance Requirements

Entrance Requirements

The MSc in Physician Associate Studies is a vocational course. Admittedly, the range of specialty options after qualification is wide, but nevertheless, making such a career choice is a daunting task for many applicants. Training to be a PA involves extensive and dedicated study.  To avoid disenchantment with a subsequent career, applicants need to understand the implications and commitments of a career in healthcare.

It is important to understand that there are Academic and Non-academic requirements for admission.

We therefore expect candidates to have attempted to find out what a career as a PA entails. It is important for students to inform us of what they have learned from this research, rather than just list their experiences.

A career in healthcare requires time-management, team working and decision-making skills. We look for candidates who lead full and busy lives, as well as achieving academic success as this tends to reflects the lives they will lead after qualification.

Academic Requirement

It is important to understand that there are Academic Requirements (ie the minimum achievements required in examinations) as well as Non-Academic Requirements for the MSc in Physican Associate Studies.

Academic performance and non-academic attainment are only two of the selection criteria considered by the Admissions Committee. No guarantee of an interview or a place can be made either on examination results or indeed upon non-academic attainment alone.


Graduates must have the following:

  • First Class or 2:1 Honours degree in a science or health/medical related subject;
  • Higher/A level Grade C or above in Chemistry;
  • Standard Grades B or above in English and Mathematics
  • Qualification must be achieved in the last 6 years.

Non-honours graduates offering a nursing degree can 'upgrade' their qualifications by:

  • Extending their degree to 2:1 Honors level through the Open University or another university, or by obtaining an MSc
  • Contacting the admissions department for other alternatives (medadm@abdn.ac.uk)

Experience in healthcare may contribute and compensate if the above requirements have not been fully met. For example, alternative qualifications and relevant experience might include a nursing qualification and paramedic training. Each case will be considered on its merits and should be discussed with the Admissions Lead.

Examples of suitable degree types include;

  • Anatomy
  • Biomedical Science
  • Diagnostic Radiography
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Genetics
  • Human Biology
  • Medicine
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacy
  • Physiology
  • Physiotherapy
  • Veterinary Medicine

Applications are welcomed from Overseas students.

They must achieve the equivalent of:

  • First Class or 2.1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a Medical Science or health related subject;
  • Higher (or A level)  Grade C or above in Chemistry;
  • Standard (or O Level)  Grades B or above in English and Mathematics
  • Qualification must be achieved in the last 6 years.

If you require any guidance on equivalent degree qualifications please contact the Admissions Office.

Candidates whose first language is not English, much achieve the following:

  • IELTS (International Language Testing System): Band 7.0 overall with a minimum of 7.0 in speaking section
School Leavers

Unfortunately, as this is a postgraduate course, we are unable to consider applications for this programme of study from school leavers.

Our best advice would be for you to study a degree, such as Biomedical Science and achieve at least an 2:1 Honours qualification.

For your information. more information can be found on our Biomedical Science course here.

If you are considering applying for deferred entry please contact the Admissions Office for advice in advance of making an application.
Non-Academic Requirement

When we receive your application form, is reviewed by an admissions selector.

The selector is looking to see you have the following five core competencies:

  • Professional values
  • Working with colleagues
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Decision making
  • Risk management and self awareness

The following are suggestions on how you might address these Non-Academic Requirements and thus develop a good and full application.

It is highly recommended that all applicants try and gain as much work experience/shadowing as possible in a clinical environment before submitting their application. You should note that if you plan to work or to volunteer in a healthcare environment, you must obtain the appropriate police checks.

Consider a career as a Physician Associate:

  • Research to confirm your ideas.
  • Discuss your options with your tutor/supervisor

Get a feel for life as a Physician Associate:

  • Undertake as much work experience/shadowing as possible
  • Talk with doctors and all members of the team about their careers

Gain an appreciation of the concerns of patients, the disabled, the elderly etc:

  • Undertake (paid/unpaid) work of a caring nature
  • Work with people in any capacity
  • Be involved in caring/charity groups

Develop your sense of social awareness and demonstrate you can shoulder responsibilities:

  • Continue to be involved with university life: clubs, mentoring, buddy and anti-bullying campaigns etc.
  • Undertake paid part-time work with the public

Show you are an all-rounder: PAs lives are busy and challenging: time management is very important:

  • Work hard
  • Enjoy your free time to the full

Demonstrate you are able to work in teams, and are able to assume different roles within the team:

  • Undertake leisure, sporting, creative activities

Prepare a draft of your Personal Statement before completing the application form:

  • Tell us all about yourself, why you want to study as a Physician Associate; your hopes for your career and a summary of the points discussed above
  • Rather than just list all the work experience that has been undertaken, it is more revealing if you can inform us of what you have now learned about a medical career and its implications
  • If you have had difficulty in gaining shadowing/work experience, eg there are no medical placements available for you locally, then you should inform us of these difficulties and concentrate on researching your careers in other ways
Tuition Fees

Please be advised there is no funding support available, therefore applicants should ensure they have adequate funding in place before applying.

Tuition fees are subject to annual review, and normally rise at least in line with inflation in each new academic year. For more information, please follow the links below:

Please note that the National Exam is not included as part of the MSc Physican Associate Studies course fee.

You may be eligible for a tuition fee and cost of living loan. More details can be found via the SAAS website. You should contact SAAS directly to discuss your eligibility.

This means that upon successful completion of the course, graduates are liable for fees and associated costs of sitting the exam. Further information can be found on the Faculty of Physican Associates website.

Career Development Loans

Applicants may be eligible to apply for career development loans administered by certain banks.

Fitness to Practice

As a Physician Associate student and as a qualified PA, you will meet patients who may be distressed and vulnerable. At all times students and PAs must behave with utmost integrity and do nothing to diminish the trust placed in them by patients and their relatives.


We welcome applications from students with disabilities and health conditions (both physical and mental). A disability or a health condition need not be a bar to becoming a doctor if the student can meet the outcomes set out in Outcomes for Graduates (Tomorrows Doctors) 2015. However, it is important that disabilities and health conditions are declared so that any reasonable adjustments required during the application process and during course are put in place.

Note that dyslexia falls into the disability category as mistakes in prescribing can have serious results if dyslexia is not declared and if protective measures are not in place. Independent assessment of dyslexia is therefore important. 

The application for admission provides applicants with the opportunity to disclose a disability and the University of Aberdeen encourages early disclosure. Early disclosure enables the University to work with you to ensure that appropriate support systems are in place during the admissions process and during your studies.

The University’s Disability Advisers are the main point of contact for discussing any requirements you may have. They are based in the Students’ Union Building (Top Floor), Elphinstone Road, in the Student Advice and Support Office, Student Support Services. If you think it would be helpful, you are welcome to contact a Disability Adviser for a confidential discussion on your application. More information can be found on our web pages at www.abdn.ac.uk/disability or by email: student.disability@abdn.ac.uk 

Detailed consideration of individual cases is only possible by referral to Occupational Health for a full assessment. This is undertaken separately from the selection process and only once a provisional offer of admission has been made and accepted.

In exceptional circumstances, admission to medical school may be refused and a provisional offer withdrawn on grounds of fitness to practise. The General Medical Council has made recommendations (Gateways to the professions and Supporting medical students with mental health conditions) concerning Student Health and Conduct. Medical Schools should not admit students who would not be able to meet the outcomes set out in Outcomes for Graduates (Tomorrow’s Doctors), even with reasonable adjustments in place.


All applicants must declare criminal offences on the application form. Any declaration will be further explored and further details will be required.

All entrants to the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutriton must join the Disclosure Scotland PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups) Scheme. Applicants who accept an offer of admission to Medicine in Aberdeen will be contacted prior to the start of term and guided through the process of application through Disclosure Scotland for this criminal record check. Non-UK domiciled entrants will be required to supply the university with equivalent certification from their home government. This documentation must be received as soon as possible to allow consideration of the individual circumstances by the University prior to the commencement of studies. 

Not all convictions will result in being barred from the profession. Should potential applicants have uncertainty about a declaration, the Admissions Office will be able to offer advice about a future application to Aberdeen

Applicants with serious criminal convictions may be refused entry on grounds of fitness to practise. Failure to declare information, which directly relates to your Fitness to Practise will result in the termination of your course.

Occupational Health

Occupational Health wish to know about any disabilities or health conditions that may affect students in their training so that, where appropriate, advice can be given to the School of any support needs students may have and how these can be provided for. Information is also required about conditions which could pose risk to patients so that these can be assessed. Consideration can then be given to how any risk can be avoided, whilst assistance is provided to help students successfully complete the course. This can be achieved with most health problems and disabilities, even if substantial.

As a potential future doctor, you have a duty to provide relevant information to the School's Medical Advisers, NHS Grampian Occupational Health Service. Failure to disclose information about a physical or mental health problem that could affect patient safety would be a breach of this duty and could result in disciplinary action. All medical and sensitive personal information you provide will be held in confidence by NHS Grampian Occupational Health Service. The school will only be informed of the effects of a health problem or disability, if relevant to your educational needs or patient safety, and of recommendations on support or adjustments that could be of assistance to you.

Applicants who are made an offer will be asked to complete a Health Questionnaire. Only the questionnaires of applicants who ultimately take up a place at the School of Medicine & Dentistry will be reviewed by Occupational Health. 

Health Policy

The University is mindful of its overriding duty of care for the public with whom medical students are in close contact.  We therefore follow national guidelines on blood borne virus infections and tuberculosis in undergraduate medical students, which are very similar to those that apply to healthcare workers.

 For more details please see the attached documents

All new students must undergo standard health clearance which requires evidence of immunisation against (or immunity to) diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella.

In addition the Occupational Health Service will arrange for blood samples to be taken to test for Varicella (chickenpox), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV antibodies or antigens and Tuberculosis screening as appropriate. New medical students do not need to arrange to be tested for and/or immunised against these disease by their local General Practitioner before commencing their studies.

For your own protection and that of your future patients, you are advised to commence a schedule of Hepatitis B immunisation. Where indicated additional immunisations may also be offered including MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella), Varicella and BCG (Tuberculosis).

In the rare circumstance that a student is shown to carry the Hepatitis B or C virus or HIV, he or she will be referred to the Occupational Health Service for confidential advice, counselling and treatment if indicated. This does not mean that he or she cannot train to be a doctor but there may be restrictions on the student’s clinical training and on his or her medical practice following qualification. In particular there are likely to be restrictions on his or her ability to perform what are termed exposure prone procedures (EPP). EPP refers to procedures where there is a risk that injury to the worker may result in exposure of the patient's open tissues to the blood of the worker. Surgery is an example of an exposure prone procedure.

Advice for Referees

This page is designed to help referees deliver appropriate advice to potential  applicants, such that students understand how to achieve the research and understanding of a career as a Physician Associate, which underpins a successful application. We also offer suggestions on what information we are searching for within the reference about a potential applicant.

Unusual or Extenuating Circumstances

Any circumstances, which prevent the student from undertaking, or completing their university entrance examination syllabus, should be explained, either on the application form, or by separate letter, to be received by the application deadline. In these circumstances, we recommend contacting the Medical Admissions Office for advice as soon as possible.

The application form should be marked indicating whether academic results are under appeal.

Student Research and Completion of the Personal Statement

Rather than just list all the work experience that has been undertaken, it is more revealing if students can inform us of what they have now learned about a career as a Physician Associate and its implications.

If students have had difficulty in undertaking research, eg there are no placements available for them locally, then they should inform us of these difficulties and concentrate on researching their careers in other ways.

Completion of the Reference

At Aberdeen, application forms are processed in three stages, when an objective scoring system is used throughout, to assess different aspects of the application:

  • An academic score, based upon our minimum academic requirements (contributes up to 25% of total score).
  • A score determined by two assessors of the remaining application. This will include the student's commitment to becoming a Physician Associate, demonstration of the core qualities required to be a Physician Associate, such as honesty and integrity, an understanding of professional issues, such as teamwork and interests, which extend beyond academic study (contributes up to 25% of total score).
  • An interview score. Only the top applicants based on the above are likely to be asked to attend for an interview, where the above attributes will be further explored. In addition, the interview will assess communication and interpersonal skills (contributes up to 50% of total score).

The reference provides us with invaluable information about certain aspects of the application not covered elsewhere in the application form. Given the above outline, we hope referees will inform us about certain key qualities a student may possess:

  • Good personal organisation and time management, allowing for academic achievement, as well as leading a full and balanced life.
  • A good sense of social responsibility, including evidence of caring for others, compassion and empathy. Contribution to activities, particularly those of a mentoring nature.
  • Demonstration of good communication skills, both in listening as well as speaking.
  • Honesty, reliability and trustworthiness.
  • Evidence of the ability to work with peers and teachers, ie in teams. Are students able to take on a leadership role if needed, as well as integrate, be flexible and co-operate with their colleagues?
  • Early indications of students' ability to take responsibility, which will be expected of them as postgraduates.
  • Evidence that the student is a well-rounded individual, rather than simply an academic. A range of outside interests, eg sporting, creative, musical etc. will allow for relaxation in a busy course and career, as well as developing a sense of identity with one's future patients.
  • Whether the student is a sociable individual, clearly enjoying the company of their peers?

We do realise the pressures that are put upon referees, particularly as references are no longer confidential.  However, should there be certain aspects of an application that you feel Selectors should know about, it is important we recognise your concerns.

Further Points to Note:

  • If the candidate has needed to repeat some studies (eg a whole year), please inform us of this and the reasons why this was deemed necessary. This is more helpful to the student than for us to note a discrepancy in the times that examinations were undertaken.
  • If a student has taken an atypical academic pathway, we should be informed of the reasons why our required subjects and grades have not been undertaken or achieved.
  • A reference that simply describes students' academic studies is not helpful.  We value referees' comments on students' other abilities and personal attributes.

International Students

Aberdeen welcomes applications from international candidates. Should you come to study at Aberdeen, we are confident that you will receive a first class education and hope that you will develop long-lasting friendships with your colleagues here. We trust that your time spent in Aberdeen, sampling the "Scottish Experience", will be memorable and enjoyable!

International applicants are treated the same as Home and EU students, and you may be required to attend an interview in Aberdeen.

English Language Requirements

Candidates whose first language is not English, must achieve the following:

  • IELTS (International Language Testing System): Band 7.0 overall with a minimum of 7.0 in speaking section

All International students should be aware that they will need to apply for their visa under Tier 4. Further information can be found on the United Kingdom Visa and Immigration (UKVI) website. We therefore recommend that International Students apply early in the cycle to ensure that the appropriate paperwork can be issued before commencing studies in Aberdeen.

For further information please visit our International Students website.