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MSc Palliative Care

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This course will help you develop personally and professionally, offering opportunities for career progression in a palliative care context.

This course is for health and social care professionals working with patients requiring palliative care and their families. It has been developed in partnership with St Columba’s Hospice by an interdisciplinary planning team. It has been designed to prepare experienced practitioners from all disciplines involved in the care of patients and families at the end of life for advanced roles in palliative care. It is relevant to those providing specialist or generalist palliative care. Practitioners may be in posts involving clinical practice, research, management and/or education. The course is based on the belief that palliative care is interdisciplinary and therefore requires interdisciplinary education.

EXIT AWARDS: MSc (180 credits) )/ PgDip (120 credits)/ PgCert (60 credits)

Delivery: At QMU and at St Columba’s Hospice, Edinburgh with additional online learning

Single Modules: Register as an associate student to study single modules in areas of interest

Duration: Part-time: 2.5 -7 years

Start date: September and January

Application deadline: none

Teaching, learning and assessment: The teaching and learning approaches used encourage you to be independent and participative learners. These approaches, for example, will engage you in modified lectures, problem-based learning, small group discussion and communication skills rehearsal. Assessment methods include case study analysis, poster presentation, collaborative presentation and portfolio. While as a postgraduate student you will predominantly be working independently, there is a strong structure for academic
support. Normally, there are fewer than 20 students in the class. This ensures that individuals receive excellent support and benefit from interaction with other students.

Teaching hours and attendance: Each taught specialist module requires approximately five days of attendance at the St Columba’s Hospice Education Centre. Other modules have different study patterns. The Hospice Education Team would be delighted to discuss the time commitment with you.

A degree/ professional equivalent, evidence of recent academic study, 2 years postqualification/ registration experience and access to a practice setting that offers learning opportunities related to palliative care.

International: Where your honours degree has not been studied in English, you will be required to take an IELTS test receiving an overall score of 6.5 and no individual component score below 6.0.

Home/EU - part-time: £475 per 15 credit module

Home/EU - part-time, dissertation: £950

International - part-time: £1400 per 15 credit module

International - part-time dissertation: £2800

Scholarships: SAAS Funding
In 2014 this course had SAAS (Students Award Agency for Scotland) funding. This funding was available for some Scots-domiciled and non-UK EU postgraduate students as well as local students. It is likely that this will be available for entry in 2015 - please check the SAAS website

- More information about scholarships for international students

Funding Information for International Students:
Visit the International section of the website.

Course Fees:
Visit the Fees section of the website. -
Graduates of the University who hold a verified QMU undergraduate or postgraduate award and who are admitted to a postgraduate award of QMU will be eligible for a 10% discount on the published fees.

Sources of Funding:
Visit the Funding section of the website.

To complete a PgCert, you must complete the following 15 credit modules: Shadows & Horizons: Advancing Palliative Care Practice/ Developing Advanced Communication Skills in Palliative Care/ Supporting the Patient and Family in Palliative Care: A Team Approach / Working with People with Complex Pain and Symptoms or an alternative (15 credits/ module totalling 60 credits).

To complete a PgDip, you must also complete an additional research module (15 credits) plus three elective modules from practice, management or education themes (totalling 60 credits).

To complete an MSc, you must also complete a specialist palliative care workbased learning project, as set out in the quadruple module Advancing Palliative Care Practice: Work-based Learning (60 credits).

The modules listed here are correct at the time of posting (June 16), but are subject to change. In the event that modules have to change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact to students.

This course will help you develop personally and professionally, offering opportunities for career progression in a palliative care context.

Case study: Gillian Ward, MSc Palliative Care

After leaving school in 1985, I did a BA in Health and Nursing Studies at Glasgow College, now known as Caledonian University. On completion of my degree I started my nursing career as a staff nurse at The Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle in January 1990 and worked in various areas including Care of the Elderly, the Psycho-geriatric Assessment Unit and an acute surgical ward specialising in Vascular and Breast surgery.

I left the Cumberland Infirmary in January 2001 to take up the post of Sister at Eden Valley Hospice with responsibility for adult services, which includes a 12 bedded in-patient unit and a Day Hospice service. Organisational changes and service developments within the organisation have directly influenced my role and my title has altered several times to reflect the different responsibilities. Following a review of the nursing structure in 2008, my present role is Head of Nursing Services with responsibility for Adult Services as well as our children's hospice - Eden House.

Primarily, I decided to embark on further study to expand and develop my knowledge and awareness of palliative care in order to ensure the hospice delivers and continuously develops effective services. The Chief Executive of the hospice, who is also my line manager, actively encouraged me to undertake this course as it was felt that it would be enhance my professional development and directly influence and enhance the delivery of care to patients, families and carers. I also feel that the role of Head of Nursing demands this level of academic study to perform as an effective and knowledgeable role model, a resource for learning and to contribute appropriately to the development of services.

When exploring which course to consider, I contacted several universities to discuss the individual study arrangements. I decided on this course at QMU as the module days appealed to me rather than a course completed online with limited face-to-face contact. The course content was relevant to my practice and my role within the hospice and the programme provided options to complete my study at different levels once certain modules had been completed for example, postgraduate certificate/diploma.

Initially, I was quite anxious with regards to undertaking Masters level study however I felt reassured when other students expressed the same concerns. Study days for individual modules are very well structured with a wide range of guest speakers involved and time is used effectively. Completing assignments can be a stressful time as I have to juggle full-time work with family life and then fit in study time, however, I was aware of the demands of the course prior to applying and this is experienced by the other students in the group. Meeting up for module days provides an opportunity to share concerns and worries within the class and develop an effective support network as well as exchanging aspects of practice and care. On completion of each module, I have surprised myself at the level of knowledge and understanding I have achieved and the new skills I have acquired. This course allows you to develop new skills that are not only limited to factual knowledge, for example, planning and producing an academic poster and completing a power point presentation and it certainly improves your computer skills.

I am extremely satisfied with the level of support I have received throughout the course so far. When I attend St. Columba's Hospice for the module days the tutors always provide time to meet up to discuss plans for assignments and to offer appropriate guidance and direction. As I live quite a distance away it is not as easy to attend the hospice to meet with my allocated tutor once the module days have finished and I rely on other forms communication such as telephone and email. However, I have always felt well supported, reassured and any queries or concerns I have expressed in relation to my assignments have been answered promptly and effectively, regardless of how many times I have been in contact. I feel that the tutors appreciate the pressures associated with completing assignments along with the demands of our own jobs and are very understanding of the complex problems which may be experienced. They are always available to listen to concerns and anxieties and provide valuable support in encouraging motivation and enthusiasm. Advice and guidance is always available when planning and completing assignments and this support continues as long as it is needed.

This course has encouraged me to challenge my beliefs and opinions in relation to palliative care and has enhanced my understanding of current policies and frameworks which have a direct impact on the how palliative care services are developed and delivered. I have also gained a lot of knowledge from the other students in the group as we are all willing to share personal experiences and reflect on practice in our own clinical environment. Any knowledge gained through the course is shared with the nursing and medical teams when I return to the hospice and I have been able to influence changes in practice as a result. I have also participated in multi-disciplinary team education sessions to share my presentations with the wider palliative care team. I feel that this course has helped me to share current and innovative practice within the hospice which ultimately enhances the care delivered to patients and families. This course enables me to perform my role within the organisation more effectively.

I would definitely recommend this course to others following my experience of the comprehensive planning of modules, the diversity and calibre of speakers I have been fortunate to meet and the ongoing high level of support and guidance offered by the tutors and other staff members within the education department. Following my positive feedback of the MSc course, the Clinical Sister of the In-Patient Unit commenced the BSc in Palliative Care course in 2008 and we hope that the Clinical Sister in Day Hospice will access the BSc course later this year.

I have been very impressed at how this course is structured and delivered and I very much appreciate the ongoing support that is available from the tutors.

Dot Partington
MSc Palliative Care

I left high school after fifth year and spent a year working part-time to save money for going to University. During this year, I also volunteered at my local hospital to gain valuable experience to help with my nursing application. I graduated from Napier University in January 2006 with a Diploma Higher Education in Adult Nursing.

My first nursing post was in respiratory unit at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital. Subsequently I spend 18 months in the medical unit at the Western when I identified my specific interest in care of the dying. My first post in palliative care was at Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh where I spend four years working, initially in the inpatient unit and then in day services. During this time I attained my BSc in Cancer and Palliative Care via Napier University. Since then I have worked in palliative care in St Andrews Hospice Airdrie, Strathcarron Hospice, Denny and also in an education post for Scottish Huntington's association. My last post was as manager of the Macmillan Day Unit in West Lothian where I was responsible for the development and provision of specialist palliative day services as a Senior Nurse in West Lothian Integrated Specialist Palliative Care Team. During this time I commenced modules working towards the MSc Palliative Care via Queen Margaret University. In May of this year I took up my current post as community Clinical Nurse Specialist in Palliative Care at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose.

As a senior nurse at Band 7 it is a requirement of my post to show evidence of Masters level study . I was particularly attracted to the MSc Palliative Care at QMU as the content is work-based and relevant and the varying formats of assessment processes, including poster presentations and critical analysis of my own communication skills, enticed me.

I have enjoyed the four modules I have completed to date, despite the level of commitment and study required. As I have progressed through the module I have become better at planning and pacing the work required. I have had a great sense of achievement when each module was successfully completed. Balancing working full-time as well as studying can be difficult, but the flexibility of the module choices and the ability to take a break by 'skipping' a semester has made the process more manageable. The staff at St Columba's Hospice have been fantastic, offering regular and effective support during all four of my modules.

A master's level qualification is desirable for a Band 7 post such as my current. The specialist modules which I have completed have been very relevant to my clinical practice and have provided the opportunity to examine more closely some of the skills I have and developments I have initiated. I am planning to continue working towards the full Masters programme after a break for the remaining part of 2009. The break this year is important as I am in a new post and need to be able to focus my energies on that. The flexibility of the course means that this is possible.

I would recommend the course (and have done!) to work colleagues. I have also been honest about the work and commitment required to give people an open and honest view of studying at master's level.



further information:

0131 474 0000 or
Janice Logan
0131 551 1381

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last modified 11/11/2015
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