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Pain Management (MSc)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Mode: Part time distance learning

Course options See other modes of study
Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

This is an interprofessional, e-Learning course intended for healthcare professionals who want to specialise in the field of pain management. It is also aimed at educationalists, to provide the appropriate knowledge and expertise on pain, to teach others from various disciplines.


Flexible e-learning programme

Distance-learning, online format enables flexible learning at your own pace.


Relevant to your practice

Content and assessments related to managing patients with pain in primary and secondary care


Tailor your learning

Focus your learning and assessments, on your area of pain interest


Student support via online tools

Student support via online tools, for learning and for development of assessments and for pastoral support


Interprofessional study

Work, learn and collaborate with students and staff from a range of healthcare professions and other academic disciplines.

Pain is a multidimensional phenomenon and as such needs to be managed through multidisciplinary initiatives. These initiatives must be based on specialist knowledge, rigorous research and an advanced understanding of the physiological and behavioural concepts involved.

This two-year course begins by introducing you 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 evaluate the various approaches to assessing and managing patients in pain. Professional issues, including quality and safety, leadership and law will also be covered. 

The course is suitable for the needs of primary, secondary and tertiary care professionals.

Our assessments are structured to allow you to focus on your own areas of interest and to evaluate topics in relation to your practice and professional base.

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 addition to satisfying the University’s general entrance requirement, including English language requirements, you must:

  • Hold a higher education qualification, minimum of a BSc (Hons) grade 2:2 or equivalent, from a recognised institution.

  • Be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Head of School or nominee, that they have held for a minimum of two years a position of responsibility of relevance to the proposed programme.

  • Be working in a clinical area that is relevant to the programme they are undertaking for the full duration of their studies. (During their studies, if the student's relevant clinical employment ceases or where they are unable to attend work in the necessary clinical setting for any period of time (exceeding 3 months), then they are required to notify the programme team immediately in order that appropriate arrangements can be made. In the case of temporary absence but continued relevant clinical employment, leave of absence (Interruption of Studies) and/or extensions shall be considered. In the event that a student's relevant clinical employment ceases then the University reserves the right to withdraw the student from the programme. Please refer to the University regulations on 'Fitness to Practise’ for further information.)

You will also need to provide:

  • evidence that you are currently registered with the professional body relevant to your profession
  • a personal statement which does not exceed 500 words. In your personal statement you will need to confirm that you are currently working in a relevant clinical area and will be for the full duration of your studies.

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

The course takes two years to complete inclusive of the dissertation component (nine months for the Postgraduate Certificate stage; nine months for the Postgraduate Diploma stage and a further six months for the dissertation stage).

It consists of three stages:

  • Stage T1 (first taught stage)

This stage lasts for nine months, and consists of three 20-credit modules totalling 60 credits, at Level 7.

You may leave at the end this stage with a Postgraduate Certificate, if you have obtained a minimum of 60 credits and have completed any required modules.

  • Stage T2 (second taught stage)

This stage lasts for a further nine months, and consists of a further three 20-credit modules totalling 60 credits, at Level 7, to achieve a total of 120 credits to complete the taught stages.

You may leave at the end this stage with a Postgraduate Diploma, if you have obtained a minimum of 120 credits and have completed any required modules.

  • Stage R (MSc research dissertation stage)

The dissertation stage lasts for a further six months,  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 modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2023/24 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2023.

Year one

Year two

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 our virtual learning environment.

The course consists of a number of compulsory modules and sub-topics where you have a choice. 

A variety of media is used to deliver the content, including:

  • Written modules
  • Voice over PowerPoint presentations
  • Talking heads
  • Presentations
  • Interactive modules.

Dissertation topics are chosen by the student, but have to be approved by the programme team, on behalf of the Chair of the Postgraduate Taught Board of Studies.

The dissertation stage will largely consist of guided independent study making use of the extensive learning facilities.  

How will I be assessed?

The assessments have been chosen to ensure that the learning outcomes are appropriately tested and provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate you have met them. 

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

  • Assignments
  • Wiki development
  • Blogs
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Group work

The MSc dissertation stage will be assessed based on the final dissertation. 

The dissertation is normally not more than 20,000 words and the subject will need to be approved by the programme team, on behalf of the Chair of the Postgraduate Taught Board of Studies

The dissertation, in combination with the taught stage, is weighted 50% for the purpose of calculating the final mark:

Taught modules (stage T1 and T2) - 50%

Dissertation (stage R) - 50%

How will I be supported?

The course is delivered entirely as distance-learning via our virtual learning environment (VLE), where you will find course materials, links to related materials and assessments, discussion boards, announcements, Turnitin and Gradecentre.

You are encouraged to make regular contribution through online discussion boards, where you will be supported by the programme team and a panel of experts.  You will also be able to plan and reflect on your learning through your own personal blog.

You will be 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 and feedforward is given on all assessments.

During the dissertation stage, you will also be allocated a project supervisor to support and advise you on researching and writing up your specific dissertation topic.


Formative feedback will be communicated through electronic and written means in a timely manner.  Summative feedback on assessment will be delivered within the timeframe set by the University.

Your dissertation supervisor will give written feedback on dissertation drafts and provide you with the opportunity to discuss any queries you may have.

What skills will I practise and develop?

By fully engaging in this course, you will have the opportunity to develop a wealth of skills and abilities you can apply to any professional setting.  In addition to greater conceptual understanding of current knowledge, issues and methods, you will practise and develop abilities in critical analysis, the application of evidence based medicine and in dealing with complex issues systematically and creatively. Your studies should also help you develop your problem-solving and decision-making abilities by enabling you to utilise evidence effectively and communicate important concepts to colleagues and others.  Through the research focused elements you will have the opportunity to develop and enhance skills in literature review, critical evaluation, research design, research methodologies, data collection, data analysis and research principles.

The course aims to facilitate students to develop their knowledge to an advanced level in their area of expertise and or interest within the field of pain assessment and management. This is, however, undertaken within a broader context, which allows the student to understand how their level of expertise and knowledge base fits into inter-professional practice and pain as a whole.

After fully engaging in the course, you should have:

  • Developed a critical approach to pain management in a range of health settings
  • Integrated knowledge of pain from different disciplines in order to approach pain management from a biopsychosocial perspective
  • Challenged traditional approaches to conceptualising pain
  • Examined current practice and evaluated traditional methods and attitudes to pain and its management
  • Developed an inter-professional knowledge base of pain to support any educational initiatives
  • Consolidated and considered extending current practice through research activities

Tuition fees for 2023 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 £5,475 £2,000
Year two £5,475 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2023/24 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 £8,950 £2,000
Year two £8,950 None

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

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

You will need a reliable computer with high speed Internet access (and up-to-date virus and malware protection) and appropriate software.

Living costs

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

Career prospects

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

All of the students undertaking this programme will be in employment. However, many senior health care roles require clinicians to have advanced academic training and therefore the MSc is seen as a vehicle for promotion to extended and senior roles. The involvement of leadership, organisational management and quality and safety modules, facilitate innovation and change within health care and provide transferable skills that alumni can apply in any health care setting. Publication of your dissertation and/or the implementation of a successful and sustainable change will be viewed highly by senior managers.

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. It will allow you to demonstrate mastery of pain assessment and management.

Studying at this level will also help students demonstrate numerous academic skills that should be highly regarded in relation to your 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 will 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.

Here’s what some of our alumni have to say about how they have benefitted from studying the course:

“This course has enabled me to move forward in my career. Since starting this course I have been successful in securing a Band 8a role (previously band 6/7) as an Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner. This role will involve the development of an Advanced Practice Service within 5 GP practices to reduce workload and waiting lists.”

“I have recently had a promotion at work and I consider this a direct consequence of studying this course.”

“This course enabled me to achieve a Band 7 position in 2017 and most recently take a job at Band 8 level. Being more competent at analysing research has meant I feel more confident to challenge ideas and take an active role in peer-discussions.”

“The e-learning aspect was very important to me, as this enabled me to continue to work whilst studying. Communication via the discussion boards encouraged inter-professional knowledge sharing and provided an ideal networking platform with the added benefit of being multi-national due to the e-learning aspect.”

“The MSc in pain management has allowed me to change practice within my department and has generated a wider organisational change with the introduction of a new policy.”

“I have met peers from around the country and the globe who ordinarily I would not have come into contact with. It is reassuring to know that we all face the same everyday challenges when caring for patients with acute/chronic pain wherever we are. We are able to share ideas and thoughts regarding different aspects of pain management.”

“This course equipped and empowered me, not only with knowledge and skills in managing pain but also to be a better doctor in general and communicate better with my patients and colleagues.”

“The learning I have gained in these modules has directly resulted in the review of a clinical pathway across my Trust and the development of Guidelines cross the county.”

“Another aspect of the course that I particularly enjoy is the interactive platform of the discussion boards. The course facilitators are on hand Monday to Friday to clarify any points that’s aren’t understood and to provide guidance in regards to assignments or professional issues we the student may be experiencing. From chatting to colleagues who are in the process of completing Masters degrees in other subjects in traditional classroom settings, the support and tutor interaction in the online forum surpasses their experience.”


UK Government master’s funding

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2023 or later, you may be able to apply for UK Government postgraduate funding to support your study at Cardiff University.

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.