University of Chester

Programme Specification
Advancing Palliative Care MSc
2014 - 2015

Master of Science

Advancing Palliative Care

Advancing Palliative Care

University of Chester

University of Chester/End of Life Partnership

University of Chester/End of Life Partnership

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

6 Years

Annual - September


17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

  • NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) Quality Standards, Quality Standard 13 End of Life Care for Adults (2011). This NICE quality standard defines clinical best practice within this topic area. It provides specific, concise quality statements, measures and audience descriptors to provide the public, health and social care professionals, commissioners and service providers with definitions of high-quality care. This quality standard covers all settings and services in which care is provided by health and social care staff to all adults approaching the end of life.
  • HPC - Standards for Education and Training (2009).  Though the course is not a training course, the programme planning team is mindful of the relevant requirements and guidance of a professional training course.
  • NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (2004). Core Dimension 6 - Equality and Diversity has a particular bearing on the course and the learning outcomes for graduates who may well work in the NHS.


Faculty of Health and Social Care, Postgraduate Module Assessment Board

Thursday 1st May 2014

The overall aims of this programme are:

  • To encourage students to apply theoretical knowledge to the complex nature of palliative and end of life care in a systematic, creative and critically informed manner.
  • To prepare practitioners who will be able to exercise higher levels of judgement and problem-solving in relation to palliative and end of life care, and encourage development in others.
  • To promote opportunities for inter-professional education, which will represent the collaborative nature of palliative and end of life care.
  • To develop and promote the skills of synthesis, together with critical, analytical and reflective thinking, and promote an ethos of lifelong learning.
  • To promote learning opportunities which allow practitioners to enhance professional knowledge, innovation and expertise in their sphere of practice, and to utilise best evidence to promote research-based change.
  • To provide theoretical underpinning for the key areas of competency in palliative and end of life care.
  • To advance palliative care practice and delivery through leadership and innovation.

Knowledge and Understanding

On successful completion of thecourse, graduates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of palliative and end of life care.
  • Evidence their comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research.
  • Show originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

On successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to:
  • Critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in palliative and end of life care.
  • Evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Practical Skills

On successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to:
  • Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively.
  • Make sound judgements in the absence of complete data.
  • Communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems.
  • Act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level.
  • Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

Key Skills
  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

  • All modules will involve critical reflection on the complexities of communication.
  • The students will develop effective written communication skills.
  • The students will develop effective presentation skills.
  • The students will develop skills in communicating in different media, such as art materials.
Applcation of number
  • The students will develop the numeracy skills necessary to effectively evaluate research.

Information literacy and technology
  • Students will develop effective information literacy and technology skills that will enable them to use the e-learning components that will be a part of all modules.
  • Students will develop the skills necessary to support their studies through effective use of available information technology resources that will support them to study whilst not physically within the university.
Improving own learning and performance
  • Students will develop the skills to become self-directed studiers. This will be progressive with amodule, towards the end of the course, delivered largely online (Research) and with the students conducting a research project (Dissertation) as the final component of the course.
Working with others
  • The students will develop their ability to work with others through their participation on the course, which will be supported by the assessment strategies used.
Problem solving
  • Exercise initiative and personal responsibility for decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations.
  • This will be a key component of distinguishing the students' ability to study at level 7.

Transferable Professional Skills

On successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to progress with their careers, either within the clinical or practice-based fields, or within an academic field.

This is a flexible, multi-disciplinary programme that provides students with the opportunity to critically evaluate the evidence base and conduct research on relevant issues in order to inform practice and service development within palliative care and end of life care.

The programme is modular in design and adheres to the structure benchmarked by the QAA publication Master's Degree Characteristics (2010), and in particular those outlined for 'specialised/advanced studies masters'.

The programme contains seven taught modules (6 x 20 credit modules, and 1 x 60 credit module). 

Students may exit with a postgraduate certificate following successful completion of one core module (Facilitating therapeutic and professional relationships through effective communication), plus two optional modules. This will provide students with a total of 60 credits at level 7.

Students may exit with a postgraduate diploma having successfully completed the three core modules (Facilitating therapeutic and professional relationships through effective communication, Leadership development and change and Research), and three optional modules. This will provide students with a total of 120 credits at level 7.

Students may exit with a Master's degree having completed the requirements for a postgraduate diploma and then successfully completing a Dissertation module at 60 credits.  This will provide students with a total of 180 credits at level 7.

Modules have been designed and structured to meet benchmarks set out in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (2008), using the stated descriptors of level 7 study as the reference point.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM7012 7 Leadership Development and Change 20 Comp
NM7059 7 Dissertation 60 Comp
NM7069 7 Research 20 Comp
NM7084 7 Independent Study 20 Optional
NM7233 7 Facilitating Therapeutic and Professional Relationships through Effective Communication 20 Comp
NM7234 7 Dying in old age - a palliative care approach 20 Optional
NM7235 7 Applying Key Concepts and Principles to Advance Palliative Care Practice 20 Optional
NM7236 7 Loss and Grief Processes: Traditional, Creative and Complex 20 Optional
NM7237 7 Managing Complex Symptoms through a Person-Centred Approach 20 Optional
NM7238 7 Critical Perspectives in Dementia and End of Life 20 Optional

Postgraduate Certificate: 60 credits (level 7) Postgraduate Diploma: 120 credits (level 7)
Master's degree: 180 credits (level 7)

The admission criteria for student entry to the MSc Advancing Palliative Care will normally be:

  • An upper second or first class honours degree in a related subject.
  • A lower qualification supported by evidence of successfully completing studies at level 7.
  • Substantial related professional experience and evidence of having successfully completed level 6 studies.

The programme is mapped against the NHS Knowledge & Skills Framework (2004) with particular attention to Core Dimensions 1, ‘Communication'; 4, ‘Service Improvement; 5, ‘Quality'; and 6 'Equality and Diversity'.

Though the course is not a training course, it is mindful of the Health Professions Council's 'Standards of Education and Training' (2009), and conforms to these benchmarks as they are appropriate for a programme leading to an academic qualification, for example:

  • Curriculum must be relevant to current practice.
  • The delivery of the programme must assist autonomous and reflective thinking, and evidence-based practice.
  • The range of learning and teaching approaches used must be appropriate to the subjects in the curriculum.

Palliative and End of Life Care is an emerging and contemporary field, hence there are not more specific subject benchmarks. 

The learning and teaching methods selected for the programme are reflective of the guidance outlined in the QAA document, B3, Learning and Teaching (2012).

Students will experience teaching and learning methods designed to facilitate the achievement of all learning outcomes at level 7 within a student-centred approach, and to foster personal and professional development. Thus a wide range of learning and teaching methods, including lectures, seminars, presentations, debates, scenario-based learning sessions, reflection, learning through practice, dissertation supervision, and directed and private study sessions, will be employed during the delivery of this programme. Blended learning will also be utilised where appropriate, with students having access to a wide range of learning materials online.

All methods of learning and teaching will emphasise student-centred techniques. These will facilitate the student to become an increasingly autonomous learner, able to identify their own learning needs and goals within the parameters of the programme aims and outcomes. The programme team are committed to fostering the personal and professional development of the students. The critical and analytical development of knowledge, synthesis and understanding will be promoted by the students' involvement in debates, discussions, project work, case study examination, critical reflection and tutorials, and via the support of their personal academic tutor.

The programme teaching strategy focus on interpretation (rather than transmission) modes of learning, believing that adult learners learn most effectively when they seek out, utilise and apply knowledge for themselves, actively creating meanings through critical reflection on their own perceived experiences and the view of others in the context of direct experience, group discussion, tutorial support and peer review.

Experiential shared and contract learning, and peer review, as well as the more traditional strategies such as lectures, seminars and tutorials, will form the essential framework. This will ensure that learning is a two way process in which lecturers and students will teach and learn together. Methods will be selected for their appropriateness to the needs of students as learners, and the particular demands of the learning outcomes and content of each module of study. Inter-professional co-operation and collaborative learning will be enhanced by the use of strategies such as interactive workshops, student-led seminars, group work and e-learning. Reflection will be used to facilitate the application of theory to practice.

The assessment strategy and methods used within the programme are reflective of the guidance outlined in the QAA document, B6, Assessment of students and the recognition of prior learning (2013).

Assessment strategy and methods have been selected which most effectively assess the objectives of individual modules, which are aligned with the overall aims of the programme.  They have been developed to promote the eight broad categories of learning outcome outlined by Nightingale et al. (1996) to construct innovative and relevant modes of assessment:

  • Thinking critically and making judgements.
  • Solving problems and developing plans.
  • Performing procedures and demonstrating techniques.
  • Managing and developing oneself.
  • Accessing and managing information.
  • Demonstrating knowledge and understanding.
  • Designing, creating and performing.
  • Communicating.

The MSc Advancing Palliative Care will support the personal and professional development of graduates who work with individuals with palliative care needs or within services that provide palliative care within the NHS, social care, third sector, private sector, research or education. The exploration of the complexities of delivering or supporting holistic palliative care within a multi-cultural society will be of direct relevance to anyone working within this area. The critical examination of this field across a range of therapeutic modalities will reflect the reality of most practitioners, who draw on a range of models, tools and approaches to provide or support palliative care that best suits the needs of the client. 

The course will enable students to progress with a career in professional practice or academia.

The University of Chester and End of Life Partnership are committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity, both as employer and as an educational institution, and have an equality and diversity policy to support this commitment. 

The MSc Advancing Palliative Care programme is explicitly supportive of equality and valuing diversity, and explores these issues, particularly as they relate to ethnicity, in the content of the course. The course design and structure will support a diverse range of learning styles. It will also support opportunities for students to engage with this level of study, which in turn will support their professional development, whilst allowing them to manage to balance work and life commitments. The students will be actively encouraged to make use of the excellent facilities and support that are available through Learning Support Services.

Several distinctive features of this programme are:

  • The teaching facilities - many of the modules will be delivered at End of Life Partnership.
  • Practitioners are invited as guest speakers from the field of health, social care and beyond, and are regularly utilised within the taught modules so there are first hand live examples of current practice.
  • Service user/carer and employer involvement is embedded within the programme through consultation and contribution to curriculum development. Service users and carers also provide teaching in modules in order to ensure that an appreciation of carer and user perspectives is gained.
  • Inter-professional learning is embedded throughout the programme. The programme is undertaken by a number of different healthcare practitioners and this provides the opportunity for students to explore issues from a variety of perspectives.

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