Postgraduate study

Critical Care (Online Learning) MSc, PgCert, PgDip

Awards: MSc, PgCert, PgDip

Study modes: Part-time

Online learning

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Critical Care (Online Learning)

We have designed the MSc Critical Care (online) programme for health care professionals who encounter critically ill adults in their daily practice. These professionals include:

  • nurses
  • doctors in training
  • senior doctors from all specialties
  • allied health professionals (for example, physiotherapists, paramedics and dietitians)

Prospective students will often be working full time in professional roles and need a flexible approach to study. The programme is therefore designed as a part-time, fully online, MSc programme.

You have the option of graduating after one, two, or three years with a postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma, or MSc respectively.

You will study core clinical subjects in year one and two of the programme, covering:

  • recognition of critical illness
  • initial treatment and stabilisation
  • advanced organ system support
  • coordination of care within the intensive care unit
  • human factors

This will provide you with a comprehensive, practical, and evidence-based knowledge. This knowledge can easily be applied in clinical practice.

You will be able to customise your learning by choosing two elective courses:

  • one at the end of year one
  • two at the end of year two

Integrated into the programme, is a graduated exposure to academic research practice in the core “Unlocking the Literature” teaching theme. This starts in the second teaching block and builds over the first 2 years.

You will become equipped with the skills to access and appraise the biomedical literature. This will fuel your curiosity, and allow you to actively take part in clinical discussions:

  • on the programme
  • with colleagues in the workplace

You will develop as an independent and critical thinker. You will be able to appraise primary and secondary research (research synthesis), and incorporate its findings into:

  • personal practice
  • guidelines
  • improvement work

For those choosing the MSc dissertation option, this learning will culminate in a supervised research, quality improvement, audit, or guideline development project.

This programme is 100% online, allowing you to study at times that suit you. You can study for 10 –15 hours per week, enabling you to balance study with work and family commitments.

Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from your own home or working environment.

Our online students not only have access to the University’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Studying online at Edinburgh

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:

You will experience detailed coverage of the essentials of the clinical management of critically unwell adults through the compulsory elements of the programme.

At the same time you will develop expertise in accessing, interpreting, and integrating the findings of clinical research into clinical care.

You will study core clinical subjects including:

  • recognition and resuscitation of the critically unwell adult
  • daily management of the critical care patient
  • advanced organ support
  • trauma
  • toxicology
  • burns
  • neurological critical care
  • sepsis

You will have the opportunity to customise your experience by selecting elective modules based on “Edinburgh Strengths”. These include Principles of Quality Improvement in Critical Care and Human Factors in Critical Care.

The MSc in Critical Care is a part-time, online programme taught over 3 years. You can exit the programme after year 1 with a postgraduate certificate, year 2 with a postgraduate diploma or year 3 with a Masters in Science.

Critical care clinicians and academics in NHS Lothian and the University of Edinburgh, will primarily deliver the teaching to you. However, international experts from other institutions will also deliver learning on the programme.

Year 1 - Postgraduate Certificate

Students will take five core courses, and one elective course. Year 1 core courses include:

  • Fundamentals of Critical Care
  • Unlocking the Literature: Clinical Trials
  • Core Clinical Practice in Critical Care
  • Trauma, Toxicology and Temperature
  • Sepsis and Infection

Year 1 elective courses include Human Factors in Critical Care and Principles of Quality Improvement in Critical Care.

Year 2 - Postgraduate Diploma

You will take four core courses and two elective courses. Year 2 core courses include:

  • Unlocking the Literature: Non-interventional studies
  • Understanding disease mechanisms to provide optimal organ support
  • Unlocking the Literature: Evidence to Practice
  • Neurological Critical Care

Year 2 elective courses include: Palliative Care and Pain Management, Human Factors in Critical Care, Principles of Quality Improvement in Critical Care, or the following courses (currently in development): Maternal Critical Care and Cardiac Critical Care

Year 3 - MSc

In order to attain the MSc you will complete a Masters dissertation.

This will take the form of a report of a project undertaken primarily by yourself. This must constitute a substantial body of work, conducted in the third year.

For a few students it may be feasible for this to be a report of a piece of original clinical research. Other project types will also be acceptable including:

  • systematic reviews
  • development of a substantial clinical guideline
  • quality improvement project
  • demonstrating practice change

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScCritical Care3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
PgCertCritical Care1 YearPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
PgDipCritical Care2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
  1. You will be able to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge covering the main areas of critical care medicine.
  2. You will be able to apply clinical reasoning and integrate knowledge with practice in a wide, and often unpredictable, variety of clinical contexts.
  3. You will be able to demonstrate criticality, creativity and problem-solving in the areas of academic and clinical critical care.
  4. You will be able to summarise and communicate complex information using a variety of methods and with a range of audiences.
  5. You will be able to demonstrate substantial autonomy and take responsibility for your own work.

The programme will enhance your understanding and clinical knowledge in Critical Care, and improve your academic capabilities, providing opportunities to develop your career.

As a graduate of the programme, whether you are a nurse, doctor, paramedic or an allied health professional your professional and career development will be enhanced in the following areas:

  • advanced clinical practice
  • clinical leadership
  • research
  • training and education

By combining academic excellence with the University of Edinburgh’s world-class reputation, graduates from our programme are well placed to continue and advance their clinical careers within the NHS or other health services, pursue advanced academic study, or work in industry. Equally, graduates can expect to be academically confident and may choose to pursue academic careers in related fields.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in medicine (MBChB or equivalent), nursing, dietetics, physiotherapy, or any other allied health care profession involved in the management of critically ill patients. In addition applicants must demonstrate experience of working with critically ill patients for a period of more than 3 months. This information should contained in your referee's letter.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fee deposit

If you are successful in your application, you will have to pay a non-refundable deposit of £250 before we can make an unconditional offer. This will be offset against tuition fees upon entry to the programme.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Tuition fee deposits can be paid here using the University's online payment facility, ePay:

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScCritical Care3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PgCertCritical Care1 YearPart-timeTuition fees
PgDipCritical Care2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Royal College of Physicians Scholarships

The University of Edinburgh, in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, is offering a number of scholarships to eligible students.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • SU208 Chancellor’s Building
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • 49 Little France Crescent
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB
Programme start date Application deadline
14 September 2020 28 August 2020

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • SU208 Chancellor’s Building
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • 49 Little France Crescent
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB