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Palliative Medicine for Health Care Professionals - MSc

This multidisciplinary programme is designed for healthcare professionals wishing to advance their knowledge of the management of patients with non-curable and terminal illness.


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.

Learning and assessment

This is a blended learning programme incorporating short face-to-face components but is predominantly delivered though distance-learning via Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), where students will find course materials, links to related resources and assessments.

Each taught module will be delivered by distance learning over a period of normally 12 weeks. Online teaching and support is also available during the MSc stage. Learning materials relating to the syllabus will be available for students to study in preparation for completing assessments designed to enable students to demonstrate they have met the learning outcomes of the module.

At the beginning of each academic year on the programme, there will be a face-to-face interactive course of normally up to 5 working days. All students are required to attend this component each year. Whilst students enrolled on the Cardiff University MSc in Palliative Medicine for Health Professionals are not charged an attendance fee for the face-to-face component, students are expected to fund all other costs of attending including their own travel, accommodation, subsistence and any other personal expenses. The face to face component will take place in Cardiff, UK unless otherwise published. The face to face components provide an opportunity to meet the staff and other students and are designed to support learning through various means including talks, workshops/exercises and peer discussion. They are a valuable aspect of the programme encouraging group and peer support for learning so as to enhance the learning experience.

Throughout the taught stages there are opportunities to acquire knowledge and understanding through a variety of means including independent study, reflective practice, peer discussion, workshops and tasks/exercises, communication skills practice and self-assessment, reviewing learning materials and lectures (podcasts). 

During the face-to-face component we take the opportunity to introduce concepts that are not easily taught through a VLE, including communication skills sessions facilitated by experienced tutors in small groups, offering a chance to practice these skills.

Each module has its own learning outcomes. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate they have met these learning outcomes via the formative and summative assessments contained within each module. The teaching and learning material presented in the online and face-to-face components is aligned with the learning outcomes to support students’ learning. 

Career prospects

This programme is suitable for those who wish to increase their knowledge of palliative medicine in order to help improve patient care.

This Masters programme 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. Whilst we do not formally assess clinical skills or competencies in a face-to-face context (so the programme 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 programme 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. As such, it 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.

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






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