School of Health Professions

MSc Pre-Hospital Critical Care/Retrieval and Transfer

Are you a healthcare professional working in the pre-hospital arena, wishing to expand your knowledge, skills and clinical decision-making, within critical care? This unique pathway has been specifically developed to target the national need for specialist practice in pre-hospital critical care. It includes the educational development of pre-hospital care providers in independent patient stabilisation and subsequent primary, delayed primary and secondary retrieval and transfer.

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First choice for health

Delivered by professional experts, our programmes are tailored to you and your career. Together, we address today's most challenging healthcare issues, through research-informed teaching and active, real-world learning.


Key features

Applications for the 2018/19 cohort are now closed. For information regarding applications for September 2019 please contact the Professional Development Unit Admissions team.

  • Benefit from a programme which is highly practically orientated and outcome focused in both educational and assessment strategies. Our curriculum has been developed through an expert collaboration of Plymouth University healthcare professional academics in close association with Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) clinical specialists.
  • Complete the full-time programme in a year or balance your commitments over three years with our part-time study option.
  • Attend multiple unique workshops, practical skills sessions and simulation activities.
  • Develop Critical Care Paramedic (CCP) knowledge and cutting edge skills such as video laryngoscopy and ultrasound skills.
  • Engage in quality improvement, knowledge creation and dissemination of best practice through publication and presentation.
  • Use of blended learning as a mode of delivery incorporating study blocks and distance learning technologies.
  • Seize the opportunity to develop and apply advanced knowledge and skills to your area of clinical practice. Our teaching faculty includes consultants from a wide array of civilian and military acute care specialties (pre-hospital, emergency medicine, anaesthesia, intensive care) working alongside specialist critical care and air ambulance paramedics and expert educationalists.
  • Unfortunately we are unable to accept applications from non-EU overseas students for this programme as it does not comply with the current Tier 4 visa requirements.

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • You will study the principles and practice of advanced airway assessment and management, advanced breathing assessment and management, advanced circulation assessment and management, and advanced neurological assessment and management. Gain an intimate understanding of brain anatomy and physiology in relation to brain injury, advance your knowledge of pain management, and learn the principles and practices of delivering critical care to specialist patient groups.

    To gain a postgraduate certificate, you’ll need to earn 60 credits - you’ll study three modules worth 20 credits each. To gain a postgraduate diploma, you’ll need to earn 120 credits. To be awarded the full masters degree, you’ll need to earn a total of 180 credits. You’ll study the same core modules as the postgraduate diploma, with the extra 60 credits coming from your research dissertation.

    For further information on the modules that make up this programme please visit MSc Advanced Professional Practice module information.

    Core modules
    • ADV702 Applying Evidence to Practice

      Focusing on the application of evidence based practice (EBP) to professional practice; you’ll learn how to use research to guide best practice. You will also identify a question relevant to your area of practice, review and critique the literature in this area, and plan and evaluate any necessary change to professional practice.

    • ADV715 Project Design for Research

      You’ll explore methodology and methods relevant to the development of a research project and by the end of the module you’ll formulate a research proposal. You’ll learn how to define and refine a research question, select and appraise methodology, address ethical considerations, and select and appraise data collection and analysis techniques.

    • ADV716 Research Dissertation

      You’ll complete your dissertation as part of your Advanced Professional Practice Masters programme under supervision from the module team and a named dissertation supervisor.

    • ADV729 Critical Care Management - Airway, Breathing and Circulation

      This module will provide students with the underpinning knowledge and skills necessary to deliver airway, breathing and circulatory (ABCs) pre-hospital critical care management within a variety of settings. It will incorporate critical understanding and application of physical assessment, physiology, pathophysiology and general examination.

    • ADV730 Critical Care Management - Neurological, Environmental and Special Patient Groups

      This module will provide students with the underpinning knowledge and skills necessary to deliver neurological, environmental emergency and special patient group pre-hospital critical care management within a variety of settings. It will incorporate critical understanding and application of physical assessment, physiology, pathophysiology and general examination.

    • ADV731 Pre-hospital Critical Care Passport Competencies 1

      This module is a 0 credit module which confirms the completion of the Skills and Competencies passport required for a PGCERT award within the MSc Pre-Hospital Critical Care/ Retrieval and Transfer pathway.

    • ADV732 Advanced Clinical Reasoning for the Critical Care Patient

      This module will build upon prior knowledge and experience to develop advanced clinical reasoning skills in critical care management. Students will explore at depth the theoretical underpinning knowledge needed to justify a range of clinical decisions, including the inter-arrest / post cardiac arrest scenario. Critical reflection on their own area of practice is a key element of this module.

    • ADV733 Retrieval and Transfer of a Critical Care Patient Within Special Situations

      This module will provide students with the advanced knowledge and skills necessary to undertake and lead critical care retrieval and transfers. It will also critically analyse the special situations that may require alternative or additional application of understanding and abilities.

    • ADV734 Pre-hospital Critical Care Passport Competencies 2

      This module is a 0 credit module which confirms the completion of the Skills and Competencies passport required for a PgDip award within the MSc Pre-Hospital Critical Care/ Retrieval and Transfer pathway.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MSc Pre Hospital Critical Care Retrieval and Transfer pathway specification 5690

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

Applications can be made throughout the year, however the pathway year starts in September. When applying for a taught postgraduate programme, please check for any submission deadlines with the Professional Development Unit team (contact details below).

In order to commence this programme pathway, you must meet the University’s entry requirements for study at postgraduate level. Applicants will need to be employed as a healthcare professional, be registered with a relevant professional body (HCPC; GMC; NMC) and have access to the pre-hospital practice environment. Candidates should normally have a first degree, BSc (Hons) at 2.2 or above or European first cycle equivalent.

If you don’t have a healthcare related degree but do have appropriate experience related to the programme, you may be eligible to apply, provided you can demonstrate a successful qualification at level 6 learning. There is a bridging module available within the School of Health Professions for this purpose (ADV 603). For example, paramedics who have registered through the Institute of Health and Care Development (IHCD) or ‘grand parenting’ would normally be considered to have attained the equivalent of a DipHE (level 5 learning). With successful completion of the bridging module, this will demonstrate the ability to study at level 6.

Each potential student will be assessed individually for their ability to study at this level and an interview will normally be required. Candidates will normally be required to submit a short piece of writing as part of the admissions process.

Applicants whose first language is not English, must also provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English of IELTS minimum of 7 in each part. If you need to improve your English language to get onto a degree course at Plymouth University, you can book a pre-sessional academic English course.

Unfortunately we are unable to accept applications from non-EU overseas students for this programme as it does not comply with the current Tier 4 visa requirements.

Each candidate on the Pre-Hospital Critical Care / Retrieval and Transfer pathway must also ensure that they have an agreed mentor in place (that has appropriate qualifications within critical care) and access to a practice environment, where they can achieve their practice (passport checklist ADV731 and ADV734) competencies. Appropriate mentors will be assessed through submission of their curriculum vitae, outlining their relevant skills and experience in pre-hospital critical care. A telephone / video conference interview may also be used to affirm mentor suitability and relevant access to a practice environment where practical skills can be undertaken.

Before acceptance onto the programme, you must also provide a signed letter from their employer, in order to confirm the support for the mentor and the student. This should be on headed paper indicating their employing organisation. You must also complete a satisfactory verification of Disclosure and Barring Service status and Occupational Health assessment. At the point of entry on to the programme, you will be required to confirm that you have had a recent Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS, formerly CRB) at an enhanced level (within the last three years). This will be confirmed to the University by the employer and a copy provided for our records. 

Fees, costs and funding


Home/EU (full time) International (full time)
£7,900 NA
Home/EU (part time) International (part time)
£820 per 20 credits (Plymouth University modules; £950 per 20 credits (specialist modules)   N/A

For further information on specialist modules ADV729, ADV730, ADV732 and ADV733 please visit the module webpages.

Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

Information about loans and funding for postgraduate study.

Students applying for a postgraduate loan will be subject to stipulations regarding the duration of the programme. Please contact the pathway lead for advice before applying.

Please be aware that there may be additional costs to undertaking your studies relating to printing of course materials, parking charges if you are studying at PAHC, and requirement for an initial outlay for travel and accommodation in respect of practice placement. If you have any questions regarding these costs please contact

How to apply

When to apply

Please note that the next intake of first-year students would be in academic year 2019/2020.

Applications for this programme can usually be made throughout the year. Please check the closing date and apply as early as possible as our programmes are popular. 

Apply for this programme

Applications should be made by using the relevant PDF or Word application form.

Postgraduate application form DOC – A DOC application form for postgraduate students to print, fill in and mail to University

Postgraduate application form PDF – A PDF application form for postgraduate students to print, fill in and mail to University

Printed application forms are also available and can be obtained from the Professional Development Unit. Please send your completed application form to the address or email listed below:

Professional Development Unit
4th floor, Rolle building
University of Plymouth
Drake Circus
Plymouth, PL4 8AA

Tel: +44 1752 586951

What happens after I apply?

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information, to take part in an interview (which in the case if you are an overseas student may be by telephone or video conference) or you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website.

  • ? Targets the national need for specialist practice in pre-hospital critical care
  • ? Educational development of healthcare professionals in independent retrieval and transfer
  • ? Collaboration with clinical specialists from the pre-hospital retrieval and transfer environment

Study with us

This pathway is a crucial qualification for pre-hospital care providers working or considering future employment within a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) or Air Ambulance Service. Our syllabus and materials have been developed to meet the needs of air ambulance paramedics as well as land based paramedics, junior doctors and other relevant health care professionals.

We can take students from a diversity of backgrounds, including: Air Ambulance Charities; NHS Ambulance Trusts; junior doctors with an interest in pre-hospital critical care; military medics / paramedics; paramedics from the private sector; and specialist nurses from an emergency department or intensive care background.

Collaboration with the Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT)

“We are in no doubt that we have developed a model of paramedic education that will lead the way in clinical development for air ambulance services and create a nationally recognised centre of excellence in pre-hospital critical care. I must congratulate DAAT for the vision in identifying the need for this degree and the courage to fund it. It will help future proof the clinical work of air ambulance services everywhere.”

Amanda Denton, Postgraduate Programme Lead at the University’s School of Health Professions

Learn more about the collaboration

MSc Advanced Professional Practice pathways

Both the School of Health Professions and the School of Nursing and Midwifery offer the MSc Advanced Professional Practice programme; together we offer a wide range of specialist and generic pathways to meet the educational needs of all health and social care professionals.

Discover more about the pathways we offer

Teaching and learning

This programme is delivered at the Peninsula Allied Health Centre which provides excellent clinical skills facilities for simulation and practical skill acquisition.

We also facilitate simulation days to bring together your classroom learning and skills into carefully selected scenarios that challenge your clinical and ethical decision making and patient management abilities. These simulation events are hosted in realistic indoor and outdoor domains both in and away from the University campus.

All modules associated with this programme are delivered via a blended learning approach  – please visit the module webpages for further information on individual modules.

Alumni loyalty reward for postgraduate study

From September 2018, the University applies a discretionary alumni reward where alumni meet certain criteria on particular postgraduate taught courses.

  • a 20 per cent discount on home/EU tuition fees
  • or a £2,000 discount on international tuition fees.

PGCE programmes, Master of Architecture, MEng, ResM and postgraduate research degrees are not included in this reward.

For further details, and contact information, please review our alumni discount policy.


English Language Centre

We offer a range of courses to help you develop your academic English language skills.

These include pre-sessional academic English courses for undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research students along with insessional language classes, tutorials and activities to support students who have English as a second language.

Find out how we can help you reach your potential.