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Part-time Postgraduate Courses: A Brief Overview

Hi, I’m Sakthi Kannan, an IMG from India who started working as an SHO in Acute Medicine in the UK. I have recently completed a postgraduate degree in medical education whilst working on my PLAB journey and would like to share my experience on the same. I will be discussing its importance, the differences from a full-time course, the basic requirements, and my experience.

Importance of a postgraduate degree

The competition ratios are rising every year across the globe for residencies and training programs. The story is the same in the UK, and the holistic evaluation of a candidate makes it harder for international medical graduates to get matched into their desired specialties.

A postgraduate degree provides an edge over their peers and can show an inclination to certain specialities. An important thing to note is that a degree will be only accepted for scoring points if it has been completed. Also, for non-training jobs, it shows career progression and improves one’s portfolio. It increases the chances of landing an interview and, consequently, a job in the NHS.

Differences between a part-time program from a full-time program

The duration of full-time MSc programs typically falls between 12 and 18 months, while postgraduate diplomas can take anywhere from 6 to 9 months, and postgraduate certificates can be completed in 5 to 8 months. Part-time courses usually take twice as long to complete, with MSc programs taking between 24 and 36 months and postgraduate diplomas taking up to 12 months. The variability in completion time depends on module delivery frequency and the duration of breaks between them.

While some universities offer programs exclusively through their platforms, others use a common platform to facilitate course delivery. Online part-time courses offer the advantage of flexibility, allowing students to complete assignments while working in hospitals or preparing for exams like the PLAB. Additionally, online courses tend to be less expensive than their full-time counterparts, with no additional fees.

Basic requirements

To undertake any postgraduate course, some basic requirements must be met, including:

1. A Valid Medical Degree Certificate – A preliminary undergraduate degree is a compulsory requirement for postgraduate courses.

2. English Language Proficiency – International medical graduates must provide evidence of language competency through IELTS or OET scores. These scores are usually valid for 2-3 years.

3. References (optional) – Some universities may require one or two references, which would be contacted directly by the university or would need to send a document to you on official letterhead. While optional, references can strengthen your application.

My experience

I contacted my seniors in the UK regarding these part-time courses and, after getting positive responses, got enrolled in the March 2022 cohort. The course comprised 6 modules of 6 weeks each and with a 2-week break between the modules.

I used to dedicate around a couple of hours every day to this course; while it was difficult at the start, it got exciting and fruitful as a routine was set. The course allowed me to interact with people from various countries and distinct clinical backgrounds as well. This course allowed me to improve my scientific writing skills and literature reviews and provided an in-depth understanding of medical education.

My course was graded through my daily interactions in terms of an evidenced post to the clinical problem, weekly reflective journals, a module activity, and an end-of-module Multiple choice assessment. Different universities adopt different modes of assessment and teaching; some focus on the assignment and a final assessment, while others can adopt a continuous assessment.

Need More Help?

If you have any questions about building your portfolio or regarding these postgraduate courses, I would be happy to answer them at You can register using this link Find me as an Ambassador/Expert and Follow my profile – Sakthi Kannan - to receive regular support and advice.

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1 Comment

Jul 08, 2023

Hi , I just wanted to ask how you got into a postgraduate course. Do you have a link or website for these postgrad courses?

Please do let me know

Thank you.

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