Postgraduate Course

MSc Advanced Musculoskeletal Assessment and Practice

(Hand Therapy)

MSc Advanced Musculoskeletal Assessment and Practice


The details
Advanced Musculoskeletal Assessment and Practice (Hand Therapy)
October 2024
2 - 6 years
Colchester Campus

We understand that you may not have the time to do a full-time degree, so our CPD pathways allow you to study flexibly, in the way that best suits you. The structure, mode of delivery and level of support allow you to progress towards a qualification at Masters level.

This pathway enables clinicians who have specialised in Hand Therapy to advance their practice. Students will engage in material related to clinical decision making, clinical service quality improvement strategies, research methods and advanced clinical skills such as injection therapy. Students will also be supported to undertake their own research project.

  • Provide you with critical understanding of the key concepts underlying advanced musculoskeletal practice
  • Provide you with the opportunity to acquire advanced musculoskeletal clinical skills beyond your normal professional scope of practice
  • Encourage you to contribute to policy-making, planning and evaluation
  • Ensure you acquire a range of transferable employment related skills
  • Provide you with the skills to access and critically appraise research findings to develop their own evidence-based practice
  • Enhance your understanding of the essential principles of research design and support you to conduct an extensive piece of independent research including: planning, formulating, designing, choosing research methods, collecting data, analysing, interpreting and writing-up

This course sits within our School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences. This provides an exciting opportunity to join a community specifically focused on sports and exercise science, sports therapy and physiotherapy. This will allow us to bring together our internationally recognised research, share knowledge, and enhance placement and vocational opportunities for our students and graduates.

Professional, statutory and regulatory bodies

We are committed to embedding the NHS Constitution Values (which are strongly reflected in our University values) into everything we do. They define the behaviours and expectations of all our staff and students underpinning the work we do in the university, clinical arena and other workplaces.

We understand that not all of our students and staff are employed within the NHS but these values uphold the underlying principles of excellent care as a standard, and as such we expect that anyone who cars for others will aspire to uphold these values.

For us, involving not only our students, but service users, experts by experience, carers and NHS/non-NHS professionals in the creation and delivery of all programmes is vital.

Why we're great.
  • Study flexibly with a part-time CPD pathway.
  • Develop the skills to assess and manage patients with a range of musculoskeletal conditions beyond your normal scope of practice.
  • Work with leading experts from a range of fields.

Our expert staff

We have a range of staff involved with this pathway including Sarah Golding - Accredited Hand Therapist, and various other tutors such as other injecting practitioners and Therapists with a special interest in the upper limb.

Your future

Sport scholarships

Our Performance Sport Scholarship programme has been created for talented athletes playing at regional, national or international level, and offers a range of benefits. We want students competing in our focus sports (basketball, volleyball, tennis and football), as well as other team sports and individual athletes, to contribute to our performance sport programme. Our scholarships can include fee discounts of up to 100%, offered to athletes who demonstrate sporting excellence. Athletes who are awarded the scholarship may also receive a host of other benefits, including free kit, access to state-of-the-art facilities, performance coaching, the option to live in our Athlete Village (accommodation fees may vary) and a support package valued up to £1,500. These benefits are designed to help athletes focus on their training, and development, and to enable them to reach their full potential alongside their studies.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 degree in one of the following subjects:

  • Sport and Exercise Physiology
  • Sport and Exercise Science
  • Sports Coaching

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 in all components.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.


Course structure

Total credits: 180

Summary of module assessment and award structure (.docx)

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


SE731-7-AU or SE731-7-SP or SE731-7-SU


Postgraduate Research Methods (Distance Learning)

This module is delivered by distance learning, no university attendance is required. You will explore theoretical and practical issues in relation to the research process, with specific emphasis on research in the musculoskeletal specialism. You will develop the ability to understand and use relevant research literature, and acquire the skills you need to plan and carry out your own research. A defining feature of the module is that the research principles that are encountered will constantly be applied to real musculoskeletal clinical settings.

View Postgraduate Research Methods (Distance Learning) on our Module Directory


Advanced Musculoskeletal Assessment

This module is recommended for you if you are an experienced musculoskeletal clinician, e.g. physiotherapist, occupational therapist, nurse or general practitioner and are keen to expand your understanding of assessment tool. Components of the musculoskeletal assessment are evaluated in this module including the role of questions used, clinical examination techniques, imaging modalities and other investigations. This module is designed to enable you to undertake an advanced clinical assessment they may incorporate the use of diagnostic tools such as radiographic imaging and laboratory investigations.

View Advanced Musculoskeletal Assessment on our Module Directory


Current Concepts in Upper Limb Rehabilitation

This module is aimed at Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) working within the Musculoskeletal (MSK) field (including Hand Therapy) wishing to gain a greater understanding of current concepts in upper limb rehabilitation. This module is appropriate for clinicians working in both primary, secondary, and tertiary care. The 'Multi-professional Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) framework' was published in 2017 in response to ensure the long-term sustainability of the NHS. At the heart of this is development of a critical workforce role to deliver innovative models of care in a consistent way to ensuring safety, quality, and effectiveness. Core capabilities for health and care professionals are detailed in the framework, it is stated that: 'The language used to describe the capabilities is deliberately mapped to level 7 taxonomy to support and make clear the expectation that people working at this level are required to operate at master's level i.e. to have the ability to make sound judgements in the absence of full information and to manage varying levels of risk when there is complex, competing or ambiguous information or uncertainty.' AHPs are central to the assessment and management of MSK conditions, their professional development towards advanced practice level supported by higher education institutions is essential to fulfilment of this vision. The framework sets out 4 key pillars of practice, each with a set of capabilities, this module and its assessment strategies aim to support professionals to evidence achievement of capability within these pillars. Within the field of Hand Therapy educational routes to achievement of Accredited Hand Therapist qualification under the British Association of Hand Therapists (BAHT) and Advanced Practice in Hand Therapy include university-based masters modules. BAHT states: 'For a BAHT postgraduate education system to work and in order to increase the standing of Hand Therapyas a specialty in the United Kingdom we need to see more courses running.' This module will add to Hand Therapists level 7 learning enabling them to work towards Advanced Practice status and provide additional options to achieve points towards the Accredited Hand Therapist qualification. As most students are in full-time employment and located some distance to the University, this module enables remote study using e-learning technology, (Moodle) and remote tutorials via Zoom. The postgraduate musculoskeletal team at The University of Essex prioritises enabling study and minimising barriers; tutors will aim to be flexible with tutorial times and responsive to individual's clinical, professional, and personal circumstances.

View Current Concepts in Upper Limb Rehabilitation on our Module Directory


Medication Use in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation

This course is aimed at experienced musculoskeletal practitioners, working at or towards Advanced Clinical Practitioners status. These clinicians who work in the field of musculoskeletal medicine will gain a greater understanding on the impact of medication on musculoskeletal rehabilitation. This module would be ideal for those working in primary, secondary and tertiary care and First Contact Practitioner roles. Physiotherapists and other AHP’s working in the UK will be expected to give advice about medication use in some capacity to their patients. The type of advice and support given to patients will vary dependent on their status as either a non-prescriber, supplementary or independent prescriber. Clinicians who give advice about medication should understand the legislative framework underpinning quality assurances as well as its impact on musculoskeletal health and its role in rehabilitation of musculoskeletal conditions. This module aims to support and develop critical thinking of practicing clinicians in understanding the impact of commonly prescribed medications on musculoskeletal health and its effects on rehabilitation. After completion of this course, students will have a grounded understanding of the impact of NSAID’s, analgesics and neuropathic pain medications on musculoskeletal tissue health and wider effects on rehabilitation. Students will also have increased knowledge and understanding of the legal and professional framework surrounding medicines legislation which will inform safe practice within their speciality. This module is suitable for Advanced Clinical Practitioners and First Contact Physiotherapists. The learning aligns with HEE’s Multiprofessional Advanced Clinical Practice Framework, A Roadmap to Practice and the Musculoskeletal Core Capability Framework (Domain C: Capability 8 Pharmacotherapy). As most students are in full-time employment and located some distance to the university, this module enables remote study using e-learning technology, (Moodle) and remote tutorials via Zoom. The postgraduate musculoskeletal team at The University of Essex prioritises enabling study and minimising barriers; tutors will aim to be flexible with tutorial times and responsive to individual’s clinical, professional, and personal circumstances. Applicants should have a relevant first degree OR a relevant professional experience or qualifications that demonstrates the ability to study at Level 7. A minimum of 1-year post-registration experience. Current Registration with the relevant UK or equivalent professional body Current registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or equivalent (eg GMC for doctors and NMC for nurses).

View Medication Use in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation on our Module Directory


SE714-7-AP or SE714-7-SU



Dissertations offer the opportunity for in-depth study and analysis of a topic relevant to your Masters degree programme. They may take one of three general forms: • The collection and analysis of new data through primary research using quantitative and/or qualitative methods, or as part of a service evaluation or audit • New analysis of existing quantitative or qualitative data, i.e. secondary data analysis • An extended literature review, synthesis and in-depth analysis of a relevant policy or practice issue i.e. a library-based study You are supported by a supervisor throughout this module.

View Dissertation on our Module Directory

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


International fee


What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


If you are intending to follow this modular programme, please email You will be guided through how to apply.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

We recognise the importance of your previous academic learning and professional experience, and you can use both to gain credit value towards the specific programme you are interested in, known as Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning or APEL.

APEL is dependent on many factors. If you are interested in this option, please email us at before you apply. It is necessary to highlight any prior learning before you apply as the modules you wish to study may be dependent on this. For further information on our APEL procedure, please review the University's Quality Enhancement information.

Please note, there is an administration fee for the APEL process request which can be found on our fees document.

Application forms and supporting documents

Once you have had your pathway discussion with the relevant programme lead and, if relevant, spoken to the CPD lead about APEL, you will need to fill in an application form and send it through to the School. Please note, check the module you are interested in as there may be additional documents required.

Programme application form:

Module application

If you are interested in applying for a specific module, you will need to complete the module application form:

Your application and funding

If you are being funded by your employer, please obtain your line manager's signature once you have completed the application form, including how payment will be made and, if you work within the NHS, forward to your Education Liaison Manger for processing.

If you are self-funded, please complete the application form providing the required information and forward to your contracts administrator, who will then instruct you on how to make payments.

If you are being funded by a charitable organisation, please complete the application form, with the signature of the person providing the funds and the way in which they will be paying, and forward to our contracts administrator, who will then instruct your sponsor on how to make payments.

Once we have received your signed and completed application form we will write to confirm if you have been successful in gaining a place.

More information about funding your course.

Module contact: Contact the team at

Downloads and module links

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

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