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Course content

The MSc in Palliative Medicine for Health Care Professionals provides high quality distance education for clinicians working with neonates, children and adults in many different settings in all parts of the world. At the core of its design and delivery is the desire to improve patient outcomes wherever palliative care is practiced by its students and to enhance the quality of palliative care through research and quality improvement. 

Using the palliative care approach as defined by the World Health Assembly in 2014 (WHO 2014) is an increasingly important imperative for health care professionals throughout the world in order to meet the palliative care needs of their populations. Although cancer as a burden of disease remains an issue globally, there are rising numbers of patients, including neonates and children, with palliative care needs from other conditions. These include learning disability, dementia, frailty and elderly people with multiple co-morbidities.  

The vision of the course is to improve patient care by delivering accessible education through which we aim to support health-care professionals to develop, share and extend their knowledge, understanding and application of evidence based medicine, best practice and governance frameworks in palliative care appropriate to their own professional settings.  

The taught stages (years 1 and 2) cover the core understanding, frameworks, challenges and research evidence relevant to optimising and developing the practice of palliative medicine and palliative care. The MSc (year 3) provides the opportunity for students to identify an issue of importance in their own practice and carry out an evidence based project intended to contribute to knowledge and practice in palliative medicine and palliative care. 

Distinctive features

The course covers the palliative care needs of patients regardless of diagnosis, recognising the global need for palliative care knowledge and skills.

Our online course materials include interactive quizzes, reading materials, audio podcasts and short video clips to widen access to learning and make it more engaging. The course work offers a variety of assessments enabling you to demonstrate the application of knowledge gained into your own practice and particular work setting. 

Since 1989 we have aimed to recruit and deliver education to the global palliative care community. Alumni of the course have held such positions as the National Clinical Director for End of Life Care for NHS England, the CEO of Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance and have developed and lead palliative care globally (for example, Bosnia, South Africa, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and Nepal). The international conference held in Cardiff in 2014 (‘Cardiff 25’) marked these achievements.


The MSc consists of three stages – “stage T1” (60 credits), “stage T2” (60 credits) and “stage R” (60 credit research dissertation)

The total normal duration to complete the full MSc programme is three academic years (stages T1, T2 & R), from the date of initial registration on the programme.

A Postgraduate Certificate (“PgCert”) in Palliative Medicine for Health Care Professionals exit point is available for students successfully completing a minimum of 60 credits, only where these include the award of credit for all ‘required’ core modules from stage T1 plus one optional module from stage T1.

A Postgraduate Diploma (“PgDip”) in Palliative Medicine for Health Care Professionals exit point is available for students successfully completing a minimum of 120 credits, only where these include the award of credit for all ‘required’ core modules from stages T1 and T2, plus one optional module from stage T1.

A student’s dissertation, which shall normally be of not more than 20,000 words and supported by such other material as may be considered appropriate to the subject, shall embody the results of his/her period of project work. The subject of each student’s dissertation shall be approved by the Chair of the Board of Studies concerned or his/her nominee.


The assessments have been chosen to ensure that the learning outcomes are appropriately tested and provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate they have met them. Specific assessment methods for each module are detailed within the relevant Module Description.

Formative and summative assessment is through module assignments including methods such as: case reflections, critical appraisals, online quizzes, creating posters, opinion pieces, communication strategies or proposals. Standardised marking schemes will be used for all summative assessment and the feedback provided for each completed assignment to guide the student for future assignments.

The dissertation stage will be assessed based on the final dissertation. The dissertation will be assigned 60 credits and, in combination with the taught stage(s), shall be weighted 50% for the purpose of calculating the final mark.

Career Prospects

The course delivers Masters level education and thus enables you to demonstrate you are taking the opportunity to develop your abilities in critical analysis, problem-solving, decision-making, finding and using evidence and in dealing with complex issues in palliative care.

Whilst we do not formally assess clinical skills or competencies in a face to face context (so the course is not a substitute for a formal specialty training programme), studying at this level should help successful students demonstrate numerous academic skills that should be highly regarded in relation to their career development and progression. In particular, the course offers opportunities to demonstrate the development of knowledge and skills in relation to the application of evidence based medicine and the potential enhancement of services and governance frameworks in palliative care. As such, if should provide evidence of commitment and potential that may assist you in relation to taking on greater responsibilities or perhaps seeking management, research, scholarship or leadership roles in palliative care.

Visit the Palliative Medicine for Health Care Professionals MSc page on the Cardiff University website for more details!





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