Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Critical Care (Online Learning) MSc, PgCert, PgDip, PgProfDev

Awards: MSc, PgCert, PgDip, PgProfDev

Study modes: Part-time, Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Critical Care (Online Learning)

The MSc Critical Care Programme is aimed at anyone driven by a desire to improve outcomes for Critically Ill adults. Our tutors, students and approach reflect the multidisciplinary nature of critical care and the clinical, academic, and professional themes that run through the programme aim to develop healthcare professionals who question, lead, and motivate others to achieve the best care for their patients. The programme has been designed and developed in partnership between the University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. 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, pharmacists, 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. Alternatively, you can choose to study single or multiple courses via the Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) scheme (for details, see

You will study core clinical subjects in year one and two of the programme, covering, but not limited to:

  • Recognition of critical illness
  • Initial treatment and stabilisation
  • Advanced organ system support
  • Daily assessment and management of the critically ill adult
  • Sepsis

This will provide you with a practical, and evidence-based knowledge base which can be immediately applied in the clinical setting.

You will be able to customise your learning by choosing from elective courses as you progress through the programme.

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 which we hope will fuel your curiosity, and allow you to actively participate in clinical discussions:

  • on the programme
  • at the bedside

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
  • work improvement

Those who complete the full MSc will have the choice in their third year to complete a supervised dissertation (systematic review, primary research project, comprehensive clinical guideline, or quality improvement project) or to conduct a small critical care related project and select up to four elective options from a range of critical care related courses from across the University of Edinburgh.

This programme is 100% online, allowing you to study at times that suit you. You can study for 15-20 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, but not limited to:

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

You will have the opportunity to customise your experience by selecting from a wide range of elective courses based on “Edinburgh Strengths”. These currently include:

  • Neurological Critical Care
  • Maternal Critical Care
  • Cardiac Critical Care (for emergency and elective patients)
  • Perioperative Critical Care
  • Cutting Edge Critical Care: Research and Clinical Practice in a changing world
  • Core Clinical Practice in Emergency Medicine
  • Transplant Critical Care

Additional elective courses are in development.

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.

Under the PPD scheme, you can study single or multiple courses in the same 6-week block as it would run for the PGCert/PGDip/MSc routes (for dates, see

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 six core courses.

Year 1 core courses:

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

Year 2 - Postgraduate Diploma

You will take two core courses and three elective courses.

Year 2 core courses:

  • Advanced Critical Care
  • Unlocking the Literature: Evidence to Practice

Year 2 elective courses include:

  • Neurological Critical Care
  • Maternal Critical Care
  • Cardiac Critical Care
  • Transplant Critical Care
  • Core Clinical Practice in Emergency Medicine

Year 3 - MSc

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

There are two options available for students. 1) Complete a supervised dissertation (systematic review, primary research project, comprehensive clinical guideline, or quality improvement project) or 2) Select up to four critical care related elective courses and conduct a critical care related independent project.

  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.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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 be contained in your referee's letter.

We may also consider your application if you have experience of working with critically ill patients or a closely related area for at least 3 years. In such cases, you may be admitted to certificate level only in the first instance.

Students from China

This degree is Band D.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScCritical Care3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PgCertCritical Care1 YearPart-timeTuition fees
PgDipCritical Care2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PgProfDevCritical CareUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition 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.

(Revised 18 March 2024 to remove 'Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships' information) 

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
  • your tuition fee 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 dates Application deadlines
6 January 2024 6 December 2024
9 September 2024 23 August 2024

For PPD courses, 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