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Palliative Medicine/Palliative Care (MSc/PgDip)

n/a (full-time) / n/a (part-time) / 24 months (PgDip), then up to 2 further years (MSc) (distance / e-Learning)

PgDip in Palliative Medicine and PgDip in Palliative Care are currently being revised for 2016 entry, with changes to be confirmed in January 2016. If you would like to express interest and be contacted when these changes are confirmed, please email us at

Course Aims

Cardiff University offers two levels of qualification in Palliative Care/Medicine. The courses have been specifically designed for the varying needs of busy practitioners working in differing clinical settings across the globe.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Medicine/Care is designed for professionals who wish to gain expertise in the practical management of patients with non-curable and terminal illness, and emphasises the unique contribution made by each discipline involved in palliative care. The principles of reflective practice and learning underpin the Diploma. A major aim in the teaching programme is to encourage thought and discussion and equip students with practical and factual knowledge, and also provide an evidence-based approach to problems in palliative care. The attitudes and abilities acquired should be of lasting value long beyond specific advances in therapy and management.

The MSc in Palliative Medicine/Care draws on the knowledge and skill-base developed in the Postgraduate Diploma, with the specific intention of expanding students’ understanding of scientific method / research and critical appraisal. The principles of reflective practice learning remain as relevant, although the MSc reinforces this self-directed approach with appropriate tutor and supervisor support.

Special Features

Course Description

There are 2 pathways available:

The Postgraduate Diploma/MSc in Palliative Medicine (open to doctors)

The Postgraduate Diploma/MSc in Palliative Care (open to appropriate non-medical healthcare professionals.

The 2 pathways overlap in many ways. The contact sessions for both Diplomas are held as a multidisciplinary event and many of the modules are available to all students.

The Diploma Stage

The Postgraduate Diplomas offer students the option to study palliative medicine/care in either adults or children. Students choosing the full paediatric option must be working in paediatrics and will be required to choose the 3 paediatric modules as their optional modules and tailor their assignments to paediatric practice.

The Postgraduate Diplomas are designed for professionals who wish to gain expertise in the practical management of patients with incurable and terminal illness. The programme content is also designed to emphasise the unique contribution made by each discipline involved in palliative care. The programme is delivered over 2 academic years and aims to include learning about many aspects of palliative care practice. Over a hundred places are offered each year in September and students are self-funded or financially supported by their employers. The Diplomas are delivered largely through distance/electronic learning. The educational resources are accessed through a password-secure virtual learning environment allocated to students. Students correspond with tutors by email or telephone and submit their coursework electronically. This makes the course particularly suitable for busy healthcare professionals in all regions of the world.

Each year of the Diploma has a 2-3 day compulsory contact session. The residential teaching block allows topical issues to be discussed in small groups. During group work students are expected to actively contribute to the group discussion/activity. Compulsory contact sessions for each year are held in Cardiff in Wales (and in other centres across world, when the geographical distribution and numbers of students permit). Most years teaching is also held in Bangalore in India.

A holistic approach to patient care is adopted throughout with an emphasis on reflective practice where the student is encouraged to consider all aspects of their patients’ care. Different topics in palliative care are studied through a series of relevant articles, available through the Internet, which are categorised as "recommended reading" as well as additional "themed reading". Students will be asked to identify key areas for their own learning from this resource and select the themed reading material that meets their learning needs as well as identifying their own resources.

Core Modules; Pain and symptom control; psychosocial care; understanding the evidence: ethics and law; Palliative Care service organisation. Optional modules include HIV and AIDS; end-stage cardiac; end stage respiratory; neurological; end stage renal disease; communication skills; oncology and haematology.

Diploma Assessment

Assessment consists of a mixture of formative and summative assessments which include extended match questions a communication skills video/DVD -based assessment and written assignments. The written assignments include short end of module assignments, exploration of a critical incident, case reflection, audit, critique of out of hours care and preparation of a teaching session. All applicants must commence the diploma at year one, except in cases where there is accreditation of prior learning. We have a procedure for accreditation of prior learning (APL) gained from other educational institutions but we do not presently recognise experiential learning. If you believe that you have completed a recognised programme of learning equivalent to one or more modules of the Diploma and wish to apply for an APL exemption, please contact us prior to your application.

The MSc Stage

The MSc module aims to develop core knowledge of research methods and measurement tools, and to enhance your critical appraisal skills. Students will use this knowledge to merge research practice with clinical experience through a process of critical evaluation and reflective practice. It will be evidenced by the students’ ability to effectively design, execute and report a methodologically sound research project.

Two contact sessions are offered to ensure that the student’s project is carefully planned and to provide students with core knowledge regarding research methodology and critical appraisal.

The first, 5-day, compulsory contact session takes place early in the year. It is designed to give a sound basic knowledge of both research methodologies and critical appraisal skills. Interactive and problem-based teaching techniques are employed to enhance the learning opportunities for both individuals and the group as a whole.

The second, 2-day, contact session is held later in the year. This reviews the progress that students have made in completing your data collection and provides you with support for writing up of the dissertation, including the effective presentation of your data.

The initial 5 day contact session is compulsory, and the second 2 day contact session is strongly recommended.

MSc Assessment

Assessment of the MSc is through a research dissertation which provides an opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the core objectives of the MSc by effectively addressing a relevant research question. This may be attained by performing either: -

The dissertation forms the only assessment for this module. Successful completion, in conjunction with success at Postgraduate Diploma leads to the award of the MSc in Palliative Medicine/Care.

The continuation fee for the dissertation in MSc in Palliative Medicine/Care (payable only if the student goes into the third year) is £617 for Home/EU and overseas students.

Available Modules

The course consists of core and optional modules to include


Core: Symptom control, communication skills, ethics and law, palliative care service organisation, understanding the evidence,

Optional choices include end stage cardiac disease, end stage respiratory disease, end stage neurological disease, end stage renal disease.

Paediatric option

In recognition of paediatric palliative medicine becoming a sub-speciality, paediatric palliative care is now fully integrated throughout the diploma course modules and there are paediatric optional modules available for students to choose including

Principles of paediatric palliative care, malignancy and emergency care in paediatric palliative care

At present no modules are available as a standalone option. They can only be taken as part of the 2 year diploma.

Contact Hours

Face-to-face contact required for 2-3 days in September for each year of the postgraduate diploma and a 5 day and 2 day face-to-face contact session for the Dissertation stage of the MSc.

Skills Acquired

The Diplomas aim to allow participants to acquire and develop the following skills:


The MSc aims to allow participants to:


Career Prospects

Palliative Medicine/Care is becoming increasingly recognised as a speciality across the world. Palliative medicine and palliative care is increasingly integrated into healthcare in the UK and continues to develop to offer services to patients with any life-limiting illness. This course provides a well-recognised qualification for doctors, nurses and profession specific allied healthcare professional wishing to pursue palliative care work.

Student Views

'The Cardiff palliative diploma provides a comprehensive and varied learning experience. The knowledge and experience I have gained in the last 2 years has been invaluable and has changed my practice beyond any expectations. The skills learnt in communication, ethical decision making and symptom management are transferable to so many other areas of practice beyond palliative care. The support from the Cardiff was excellent and it was a pleasure to learn from such an enthusiastic team.'

Current Student (2012-2014)

'I found the coursework varied and challenging and the weekly reading and online material provided an invaluable resource and evidence base for my clinical practice. There was widespread enthusiasm from tutors and students alike and, at the end of the course, I made greater use of reflective practice and had more confidence to teach others in my team. In particular, I think this is an excellent qualification for people interested in extending their knowledge of symptom control and the ethical issues at the end of life.'

Alumnus (2010-2012, currently a Specialist Registrar, Palliative Medicine, Uk


Entry Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English or Welsh must satisfy the English Language requirements for entry to the university by attainment of a minimum score of 6.5 on the IELTS exam. For overseas students (outside EU) please ensure that your referees comment on your English language ability for written, spoken, reading and listening.

Postgraduate Diploma

You are required to be a registered student of the University for each academic year of attendance on the programme.

You are also required to hold appropriate current professional registration for each academic year of attendance on the programme.


MSc: Admission to the MSc is limited to students who have successfully completed the Postgraduate Diploma to a high standard. Entry to the MSc component is competitive.


Application deadline: May 31st each year

Please note: Late applications will be considered where space allows.

You must provide details of current professional registration (professional body, registration number and expiry date).

Please discuss in your personal statement your current role and involvement with palliative patients and palliative care delivery.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 General Student visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

Compulsory Teaching Dates for New Students: September 14, 15 and 16 2015.

Available Funding

Commonwealth Scholarships may be available for students in India and surrounding countries. Please contact the office for more details.

Tuition Fees 2016/17

Fees quoted are for the academic session 2016/17. For programmes lasting more than one year, tuition fees for subsequent years of study are subject to an increase of no more than 4.5% per year.

  UK & EU International
Full-time n/a n/a
Part-time Palliative Care:
PgDip: £3,875
MSc (post PgDip): £3,875
Palliatve Medicine:
PgDip: £3,875
MSc (post PgDip): £3,875
Palliative Care:
PgDip: £5,625
MSc (post PgDip): £5,625
Palliatve Medicine:
PgDip: £5,625
MSc (post PgDip): £5,625
Deposit Includes a £1,000 deposit. More information about our deposit policy. Includes a £1,000 deposit. More information about our deposit policy.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Palliative Medicine Admissions Team  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2019 6111 



School Website:

More information