The Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care


How much does it cost?

Fees for the Academic Year 2019-2020 and the cancellation terms can be found here.

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What Mountaineering Experience should I have?

The Diploma is a very practically based qualification for doctors and members of allied medical professions operating in a mountain environment or advising patients who will be in a mountain environment. It is therefore vital that the candidate concerned is safe, relaxed, and capable of looking after him/herself in the mountains when caring for a patient. It is also important that a doctor advising a mountaineering patient has theoretical and practical experience of the environment in which the patient will be active.

To achieve this, the candidate does not have to operate at a very high technical standard in the mountains, but must a have a broad knowledge and be competent enough to ensure that they do not themselves become a liability. They would be expected to be able to navigate in British hills in summer and winter in all conditions to a sufficient standard to avoid getting themselves into trouble if separated from a rescue team that they were assisting. This may involve a Scottish winter blizzard at night. They must be confident in self-care and survival techniques so that they can protect themselves and a casualty for an enforced bivouac by constructing an appropriate shelter (eg snow shelter). They do not have to be very good climbers but must understand the principles and practice of belaying, simple self-rescue and rope techniques so that they could be lowered to a casualty and still operate confidently. They should be competent scrambling on steep ground and be able to second rock to about VD standard and “ice” to about Grade 2.

Candidates should be familiar with safe movement over glaciated terrain and have some knowledge of mountain weather, avalanche risk and snow pack formation. The key to achieving the required standard is plenty of personal practice and building of experience in a multitude of mountain conditions. During the modules of the diploma all these skills will be demonstrated and assessed but they will not all be formally taught. Candidates may wish to get further training either from UIAGM Guides, or instructors holding British Mountain Training Board qualifications by private arrangement, or to join some of the excellent course run by centres such as Plas Y Brenin or Glenmore Lodge.

The personal course logbook is designed to enable candidates to demonstrate their personal experience prior to registration, during their time as students, and after award of the diploma. Candidates with limited mountain experience are still very welcome to register whilst building their skills.

Consideration for exemption from mountaineering parts of the course is only offered to candidates holding full UIAGM Guide qualifications or UK National Board qualifications at the appropriate MIC level. In these cases they must submit their logbook to the UIAGM Guide in charge of assessment for consideration.

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What are the entry requirements?

Participants should normally be registered with one of the nine UK Health and Care Regulatory Bodies, (GMC, HCPC, NMC, GDC etc…). Applications will also be considered from final year medical students who will complete the course after they are fully registered. These applicants would normally hold a first degree or provide evidence of the ability to study at master's level.

Those applicants whose first language is not English must be able to demonstrate a satisfactory level of both spoken and written English. This should be equivalent to at least the level of post-secondary (high) school and of a sufficient standard to write proficiently at postgraduate level.

If the directors have concerns about your English language capability you may be asked to provide evidence of an English Language test, this should be one of the following:

  • IELTS Academic module 6.5 (with at least 6.0 in each section)
  • TOEFL-iBT 92 (with at least 20 in all sections)
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 (with no score lower than 56 in each of the 'Communicative Skills' sections - 'Enabling Skills' section scores are not considered)
  • Cambridge CPE Grade B; Cambridge CAE Grade A

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How do I apply?

In order to maximise the student learning experience, admission numbers for the programme are capped at 24 students per year. This programme is heavily oversubscribed so the application process will close after receipt of the first 34 applications. The final 10 applications will be placed on a waiting list. Students should not pay £50 registration fee until they have had email confirmation that their application is one of the first 34 selected. 

Full details of the application process are available here

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When do I need to apply?

Applications for the 2019-2020 intake will open on Wednesday 1 May.

Please see the Applications page for information about the applications process.

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When does the programme start?

There is one intake per year, the dates for 2019 are: 

  • The induction module launched online on Wednesday 2 October 2019
  • Students attend Module 1 - Theory 1 from 1 - 6 December 2019 which is held at the National Mountain Centre, Plas Y Brenin in Wales.

Details of the other module dates can be found here.

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Is there a residential component?

During the Certificate year there are four residential components as shown in the table below: (Please note these are indicative and are subject to change). 

You can view the confirmed dates and venues for the Residential modules here.

Module Venue Indicative Month
Module 1 – Theory 1 National Mountain Centre, Plas Y Brenin December
Module 2 – Mountain Skills Moorings Hotel, Fort William February
Module 3 – Theory 2 National Mountain Centre, Plas Y Brenin May
Module 4 – Alpine Skills The Grand Hotel and Kurhaus, Arolla September


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What will I learn on this programme?

You will find more detail about what the programme covers here.

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What equipment will I need?

When you confirm your place on each module, you will be sent a list of the required equipment, such as crampons, compass, maps and so forth. It is important that you attend the module with the complete equipment list, and you know how to use it before attending the course. Unless specifically stated in the equipment list, sharing of equipment is not permitted.

Much of the programme is held outside in hostile conditions. You should ensure that you are suitably attired to work on the hill in the cold and wet. You should also ensure you have adequate insurance cover from the British Mountaineering Council as normal travel insurance is insufficient.

You also need access to an internet capable device and office software to access the VLE and submit assignments.

Reading list: 

Students will be given a reading list when they commence their studies, however they need to purchase High Altitude Medicine and Physiology by John West for their studies on the programme. (This is available from a number of outlets as well as from the publisher.) 

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How do I know if this programme is for me?

This programme is aimed at health professionals who wish to provide appropriate clinical care or offer advice to people in mountain environments. If you would like to combine your clinical skills with sufficient alpine mountaineering skills to operate effectively in this environment, this programme is for you.

Further advice can be found in the 'Hints to a potential students from another student' document.

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Is online learning for me?

While a large proportion of this programme is delivered face-to-face and very practical, at diploma level you will need to study independently and online. Online learning can be a very effective method of studying particularly if you are also working and have other time commitments, as it allows you some flexibility for studying where and when it suits you. You need to be self-motivated and participating in online discussion forums can help you to feel part of a learning community.

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What computer skills should I have?

You should have competent email, internet and office applications skills.

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How is the programme taught?

The programme is made up of 4 modules (certificate) that are taught face to face in a mountain location and an additional 4 modules (diploma) that are taught through a combination of independent study and online. Face to face events use a combination of lectures, tutorial group work and practical clinical scenarios and mountain skills.

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How will I be supported during my studies?

There are a number of ways you will be supported during your studies, these include:

  • Allocated tutors 
  • Individual educational support from tutors and guides at face to face modules and through the VLE
  • Individual feedback and moderation of discussion forums
  • Advice from the Programme Leads and Programme Administrator
  • An introductory online induction to familiarise students with using the online learning environment and the requirements for the programme
  • Peer support from other participants as part of the programme activities and facilitated discussion
  • Administrative support from the Programme Administrator via the VLE, email and phone
  • Programme Handbook
  • Access to a variety of learning resources in different formats

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What are the programme's formal learning outcomes?

The programme aims to give health professionals the theoretical and practical knowledge to manage the specific illnesses and diseases that may occur in the mountain environment.

To this end students taking this programme can expect to gain:

  • an understanding of the physiological changes associated with exercise and with living at altitude
  • an appreciation of the mountain environment, and the environmental factors that may lead to illness or injury
  • knowledge of aspects of travel medicine that are important to mountain travel
  • proficiency in the practical skills of survival and mountain rescue
  • training in the management of altitude related disease and in the specific problems of managing illnesses and injuries that occur during a journey to the mountain environment.

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What time commitment do I need to make?

For modules 1-4 you need to attend four face to face events each of approximately 1 week. Modules 5-8 are undertaken through independent study and online. Each module is approximately 150 hours of student learning completed part-time.

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How long will it take to complete my studies?

The programme is studied part time and if done continuously can be completed in:

  • 1 year for the Certificate (3 years maximum) and
  • 2 years for the Diploma (5 years maximum)

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Can I transfer credit from other courses I have studied?

Students may be eligible for exemption from Module 8 Research Methods (15 credits) if they can demonstrate prior learning at an appropriate level covering the outcomes of the research methods module. Normally the prior learning should be

  • assessed at equivalent to SCQF level 11
  • delivered by a reputable institution
  • studied within the last five years

Consideration for exemption from mountaineering parts of the course is only offered to candidates holding full UIAGM Guide qualifications or UK National Board qualifications at the appropriate level. In these cases they must submit their logbook to the UIAGM Guide in charge of assessment for consideration.

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What qualification will I get?

A Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate (modelled on being at Postgraduate Level, Scottish Qualification Framework level 11) in Mountain Medicine. Successful Certificate students are also awarded the UIAA/ISMM/ICAR Diploma.  See programme structure for full details.

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Can I study individual modules as CPD?

It is not currently possible to study individual modules as CPD.

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Is the programme accredited?

undefinedThe Programme follows the required syllabus for accreditation by the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) Medical Commission, the International Society of Mountain Medicine (ISMM ) and the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR ). Successful completion of the certificate level study results in a certificate awarded by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and a UIAA/ICAR/ISMM Diploma in Mountain Medicine.

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How do I contact you?

Contact Details:

Chris Murley
Senior FPHC Postgraduate Programme Administrator

Phone:+44 (0)131 527 1748

Postal Address: Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Nicolson Street

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Upcoming System Maintenance & Network Disruption

Due to essential systems maintenance and upgrades there will be intermittent interruptions to some on-line services on Saturday 27th of February. There will be further interruption to some core services on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd of March.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.