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Pain Management (MSc)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Course options See other modes of study
Start date

Open day

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Why study this course

The MSc Degree in Pain Management is an inter-professional, e-Learning programme intended for health care professionals who want to specialise in the field of pain management.

This one-year course begins by introducing the health care professional to the multifaceted nature of caring for patients who have pain. The modules are designed to provide you with the ability to understand the biopsychosocial aspects of pain, and to apply that knowledge to evaluate the various approaches to assessing and managing patients with different types of pain. Professional issues, including quality and safety, leadership and law will also be covered within the course. The module assessments are evidence-based reviews that can inform your clinical practice. The dissertation includes an evidence based review but can also be part of a research project or quality improvement project in an area of pain management. All of these combined aspects of the programme have the overall aim of improving patient outcomes and management for individuals living with pain.

Distinctive features

  • Flexible e-learning programme  -  Distance-learning, online format enables flexible learning at the health care professional’s own pace around current commitments. 
  • Relevant to clinical practice  -  Content and assessments are directly related to managing patients with pain in across different areas of health care, through evidence-based practice that is relevant to various clinical areas.
  • Tailor your learning  -  Focus your learning and assessments on your area(s) of clinical practice and/or pain interest.
  • Interprofessional, international study  -  Work, learn and collaborate with students and staff across the world, from a range of healthcare professions and other academic disciplines. 

Where you'll study

School of Medicine

We are of the largest medical schools in UK, committed to the pursuit of improved human health through education and research.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2068 7214
  • MarkerUniversity Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:2 honours degree in a relevant subject area such as healthcare, nursing, or medicine, or an equivalent international degree.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.
  3. Evidence that you are currently registered with the professional body relevant to your profession.
  4. Evidence that you have two years full time equivalent experience in a clinical area relevant to the programme. Evidence of your employment can be provided in the form of a signed and dated employer reference.
  5. A personal statement which does not exceed 500 words and provides details of your clinical experience.

If you do not have a degree in a relevant area, your application may be considered on the basis of a minimum of two years full-time equivalent relevant professional experience. Please provide additional evidence to support your application such as signed and dated employer references.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

This full-time MSc consists of two stages – Stage T (taught stage) and Stage D (dissertation stage):

  • Stage T (taught stage)

This stage lasts for eight months and consists of six 20-credit modules totalling 120 credits, at Level 7.

  • Stage D  (MSc dissertation stage)

The dissertation stage lasts for a further three months, to a total for the MSc of one year, and will include a dissertation of 60 credits at Level 7, to achieve a combined total of 180 credits at Level 7 to complete the MSc programme.

The dissertation is normally not more than 20,000 words. The subject of each student’s dissertation shall be approved by the Chair of the Board of Studies concerned or his/her nominee.

The total normal duration to complete the full MSc programme is one year (stages T & D), from the date of initial registration on the MSc.

The dissertation, in combination with the taught stage, is weighted 33.33% for the purpose of calculating the final mark.

Stage   Weighting

Taught modules            66.66%

Dissertation (stage R)    33.33%

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

The programme runs across one academic year. Each module is 5 weeks long and studied consecutively, the dissertation period is 10 weeks. There is a 2 week break during module 3 for the Christmas period (University closure). The programme starts with a 1-week introduction period to enable you to familiarise yourself with the online University platform (e.g. your student record, study skills guides and library services) and Learning Central where all your modules are presented, released one at a time. The programme team support you throughout the academic year and will run video calls to introduce themselves and the module, at the beginning of each module. Academic support is provided through discussion boards, review of and feedback on drafts of work and video or telephone calls. You will be allocated a personal tutor, to provide pastoral support to discuss anything that is affecting your ability to study. All of the module content is delivered asynchronously, which means there is flexibility in studying module content. There will be some synchronous content e.g. webinars, but you will be informed of these in advance. The module assessments are ‘evidence-based reviews’, that enable you to focus on an area of your interest in pain management, submitted online via a tool called Turnitin. The programme starts with a Module on Research, Statistics and Evidence Base Medicine, which provides you with the knowledge and skills to develop evidence based reviews.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

A wide range of teaching and learning styles are used throughout the course, which is delivered via e-learning format through Cardiff University’s virtual learning environment (VLE) Learning Central™. The course consists of a number of compulsory modules and others have sub-topics where you have a choice.

A variety of media is used to deliver the content:

  • Online, interactive modules
  • Voice over PowerPoint presentations
  • Links to other online resources
  • Presentations
  • Webinars.

Module assessment and dissertation topics are chosen by the student but have to be approved by the programme team.

Studies at MSc dissertation level will largely consist of guided independent study and research, making use of the extensive learning and research facilities available.  A project supervisor will be allocated to support and advise you on researching and writing up your specific dissertation topic.

How will I be assessed?

The assessments have been chosen to ensure that the learning outcomes are appropriately tested and provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate they have met them.  Specific module assessment methods for each module shall be determined by the relevant Board of Studies and are detailed within the relevant Module Description.

There are a variety of formative and summative assessment methods used, such as:

  • Written Assignment plans/drafts
  • Written Assignments
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Discussion boards

The MSc dissertation will be wholly assessed based on the final dissertation. Expectations for the format, submission and marking of the dissertation will follow the current Assessment Regulations, supplemented where appropriate with additional requirements of the Programme/School/College and any specific requirements arising from the nature of the project undertaken.

How will I be supported?

There will be introductory video calls to each module, with the student cohort. Online support is provided via discussion boards e.g., to discuss module content, assessment ideas, assessment development, clinical issues. You are encouraged to make regular contribution through the discussion boards on Learning Central, where you will be supported by the programme team and a panel of clinical experts. You will be able to plan and reflect on your learning of individual modules and assessments, through your own personal blog (this can be extracted to include in Professional Portfolios/professional validation, re-validation).

All students are allocated a personal tutor, for help and support with academic and pastoral needs, who will be in regular contact to discuss progress and to provide advice and guidance as needed.  Extensive written feedback is given on all assessments to help and guide you for future assessments.


In order to help and guide you with the planning, writing and development of assessments, formative feedback will be provided through electronic and written means in a timely manner.  Summative feedback on assessment will be delivered within the timeframe set by the University.

Students are allocated a personal supervisor during the dissertation period. They will give written feedback on dissertation drafts and provide the student with the opportunity to discuss any queries they may have.

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will achieve by the end of your programme at Cardiff University and identify the knowledge and skills that you will develop. They will also help you to understand what is expected of you.

On successful completion of your Programme you will be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:

KU 1  Evaluate and synthesise the complementary roles of healthcare professionals, multi-disciplinary teams, researchers, health commissioners to people with pain/pain conditions, assessing the inter-relationships between different care providers and the effectiveness of pain management in primary, secondary and tertiary care settings

KU 2  Critically reflect on the interplay between the biological, social and psychological aspects of pain in order to provide care and management of patients in a range of health care settings

KU 3  Reflect on the healthcare systems/education delivery, in a management structure consistent with a senior leadership role in a healthcare setting

KU 4  Evaluate the evidence pertaining to the management of pain from an evidence-based perspective reflecting on your own clinical practice and changes that may be required for innovations to improve care delivery and practice

KU 5  Develop an interprofessional, evidence-based knowledge of pain and its management to support any clinical and educational initiative

Intellectual Skills:

IS 1  Develop a critically informed approach to searching for evidence, evaluating and grading the strength of evidence, reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence and synthesising the outcomes to inform clinically meaningful questions grounded in a robust knowledge base of research, innovation, audit and service evaluation using theoretical perspective, facilitating discussion and debate with the faculty and peers

IS 2  Approach leadership, clinical change and clinical care with a critical perspective based on your enhanced ability as a reflective practitioner who can use data, resources and guidelines in an innovative, sustainable and constructive manner

IS 3  Formulate unbiased, research informed, patient orientated debate regarding the challenges in and possible solutions to managing pain or those living with conditions associated with pain

Professional Practical Skills:

PS 1  Master the skills needed to be a life-long learner influencing care/pain education, using valid and reliable tools to evaluate changes made

PS 2  Critically evaluate current practice and traditional methods and attitudes to pain and its management

PS 3  Reflect on safe, effective, person-centred care with appropriate professionalism

Transferable/Key Skills:

KS 1  Apply professional self-awareness and self-reflection to your own professional development in ways that enhance your practice and improve patient outcomes. Identify areas for quality improvement and deliver evidence based healthcare/pain education

KS 2  Plan, organise and manage coursework effectively, demonstrating independence, initiative and originality

KS 3  Communicate clearly and concisely through collaborative learning in variety of styles, using a range of media

KS 4  Consolidate and consider extending current practice through research activities

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £11,450 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £18,900 £2,500

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Master's Scholarships

An award open to UK students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Career prospects

Successful completion of this programme will add value to your CV. Graduates have reported that it led directly to promotion, and many were also stimulated to pursue academic careers via further study up to PhD.

This Masters programme enables you to demonstrate you are taking the opportunity to develop your abilities in critical analysis, problem-solving, decision-making, finding and using evidence and in dealing with complex issues. Whilst we do not formally assess clinical skills or competencies in a face-to-face context (so the programme is not a substitute for a formal specialty training programme), studying at this level should help successful students demonstrate numerous academic skills that should be highly regarded in relation to their career development and progression. In particular, the programme offers opportunities to demonstrate the development of knowledge and skills in relation to the application of evidence-based medicine and the potential enhancement of services and governance frameworks. As such, it should provide evidence of commitment and potential that may assist you in relation to taking on greater responsibilities or perhaps seeking management, research, scholarship, or leadership roles.

Next steps


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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.