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)

This innovative online MSc in Critical Care programme is offered in partnership between the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and The University 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, 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, but not limited to:

  • 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 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
  • work improvement

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 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
  • neurological critical care
  • sepsis

You will have the opportunity to customise your experience by selecting elective modules based on “Edinburgh Strengths”. These include Maternal Critical Care and Cardiac Critical Care in year two.

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 six core courses.

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
  • Human Factors in Critical Care

Year 2 - Postgraduate Diploma

You will take three core courses and two elective courses.

Year 2 core courses include:

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

Year 2 elective courses include: Maternal Critical Care and Cardiac Critical Care (additional courses are currently in development).

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

Semester dates for the academic year 2021-2022

These are key dates in the academic year, which vary slightly year to year. For your programme these are:

  • Welcome Week: 13 – 17 September 2021
  • Term 1: 20 September - 3 December 2021
  • Term 2: 10 January – 25 March 2022
  • Term 3: 11 April - 24 June 2022

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
MSc3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2021/22
PgCert1 YearPart-timeProgramme structure 2021/22
PgDip2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2021/22
  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 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

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

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 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • 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.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 62 overall 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.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

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 before we can make an unconditional offer.

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
MSc3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PgCert1 YearPart-timeTuition fees
PgDip2 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
  • 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
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  • 49 Little France Crescent
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  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB
Programme start date Application deadline
12 September 2022 26 August 2022

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