Key Facts

Course Title: Pain Science and Management
Course type: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
Mode of Study:Part Time
Contact Details:01782 734551
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Subject Area: Physiotherapy


This course provides students with a sound understanding of the physiology and pharmacology of pain, the psychosocial aspects of pain, and the assessment of pain. It also provides a thorough understanding of research methodology.

The School of Health & Rehabilitation is based on Keele campus and has a well-established undergraduate physiotherapy programme. It has strong connections both with local clinical units and with other Schools within the University such as the Schools of Nursing & Midwifery, Medicine, and Pharmacy.

Allied health professionals and members of other related disciplines may require both academic accreditation and flexibility when seeking continuing professional development (CPD) and our postgraduate courses endeavour to fulfil these needs within the field of pain management. Although based in the School of Health and Rehabilitation, this course draws on modules from across the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the wider University encouraging interprofessional education. It is available part-time, or modules can be taken as independent stand-alone programmes of study.

The part-time MSc programme can be completed in two years although up to three years is permitted. Students who opt for the modular route may take up to five years if they wish. The structure of the course therefore allows flexible learning in accordance with individual student interests and needs.

Part-Time route (up to 3 year course)

The following provides an example of how the programme may be completed over a 2 year period.

Taught modules are taken over 3 semesters and the dissertation is taken in the final semester (2 semesters per year).  

45 credits of option modules must be taken in total, most modules are 15 credits, some may be 30 credits.


Semester 1

(Year 1)

Semester 2

(Year 1)

Semester 3

(Year 2)

Semester 4

(Year 2)


Modular route (up to 5 year course)

A minimum of one module is taken per semester (2 semesters per year) for four years and then the dissertation in the fifth year but if a student takes more modules per semester then they can complete earlier. This means a student can complete anywhere between 3 and 5 years so it is a more flexible approach.

For the Modular route, payment is made as each module is taken.

Semester 1

(Year 1)

  • Research Methods in Health (must be taken in the first semester as it underpins the rest of the course)
  • Can also take option modules or core modules in this semester depending on a student's wishes

Following semesters

(these modules can be taken in any order but please take in to account the dates that they run and any option modules that may have pre-requisites)

Final Year  



Aims of the Course

The aim of this flexible modular course is to broaden the student’s knowledge and understanding in Pain Science and Management, plus encourage personal development. The IASP core curriculum for professional education in pain is reflected in this programme. It is also about fostering greater insight into how different disciplines, through a programme of shared learning and teaching, can contribute to this aim. This course facilitates analysis, discussion and critical appraisal of scientific and clinical knowledge.

Entry Requirements

The course is open to allied health professionals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and psychologists interested in this field. Applicants should normally have a first or second-class honours degree (2.1 or 2.2) (or overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject or an equivalent professional qualification.

In addition, registration with your professional council is strongly recommended; if this is not obtained then this will severely limit your choice of options since you will not be able to undertake practical clinical modules.

Forms for UK Professional Council registration are available from the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), General Medical Council (GMC) and Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). This process can take at least eight weeks, so please do apply early.

All students must have third party insurance for modules that involve practical skills. 

For students whose first language is not English, evidence will normally* be required of successful completion of an English Language qualification such as IELTS (minimum 6.5 with at least 6 in each sub-test).

All applications are assessed on an individual basis. Applicants should ensure that their personal statements identify why they wish to study this course.


*In exceptional circumstances, if the school believes a student to be academically strong but has a borderline IELTS (or equivalent) score (e.g. a student with an UK equivalent high first class degree qualification and misses one component of the IELTS by 0.5 in a speaking or listening section), the applicant may be interviewed by the academic from both the School and the Language Centre. If the student is successful in the interview they maybe considered for entry.

Course Content

The MSc programme comprises taught modules to the value of 120 M Level credits and a dissertation of 60 M Level credits, giving a total of 180 credits. Students may choose to finish their studies after completing 60 taught credits (Postgraduate Certificate) or 120 taught credits (Postgraduate Diploma), or they may study any module on a stand-alone basis and obtain the relevant credits.

The part-time MSc programme can be completed in two years, but students may take up to five years if they wish. The structure of the course therefore allows flexible learning in accordance with individual student interests.

Please visit the Faculty website to view details of all modules and sessional dates.

The core modules meet the needs of individuals to review and evaluate the scientific background of their own specialism and to integrate this into their clinical practice. The option modules allow students to devise a programme to suit their own specific requirements in terms of professional and personal development. The Research module and Evidence-Based Practice module together with the dissertation develop the student’s research capabilities and critical evaluation skills.

The following indicate the range of modules that may be offered.

Core Modules (each 15 credits, totalling 75 credits)

Option Modules (credit value in brackets - 45 credits required for MSc and PgDip)

Availability of options may be subject to change in any year and other modules may also be available. Examples are given below, further modules can be found in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Modules involving practical skills – UK Professional Council registration and third party insurance required

Modules not requiring third party insurance


Candidates can also apply for assessment of prior learning (APL) exemptions against option modules or choose to take option modules from a range offered by other Schools in the University provided they are consistent with the aims of the programme and are approved by the Course Team.

Dissertation (60 credits)

A dissertation of 15,000 words on a topic related to the course. Dissertation workshops provide support for students.




Teaching and Assessment

A broad spectrum of teaching and learning methods are adopted including lectures, seminars, workshops and online distance education. All sessions are led by a variety of experienced authorities in their field. Therefore, the student receives a wide knowledge base from academics and practising experts.

The programme is assessed by a variety of techniques chosen to reflect the aims and objectives and teaching methods of individual modules, for example: critical evaluation, paper review, seminar presentations, examination, the use of the Virtual Learning Environment, and dissertation. The pass mark for all modules is 50%.

Additional Costs

Apart from additional costs for text books, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for this postgraduate programme.

Luke Walker, MSc Pain Science and Management

 “I am a modular student on the MSc pain management course.  I completed my undergraduate over 10 years ago at Keele and knew the SHAR to be excellent and the tutor support first class.  So, when I saw the variety of post graduate modules on offer and the flexible learning format I jumped at the chance to undertake my MSc back at Keele.

I was initially concerned about fitting in the studying and travel while working full time and living a long way from Keele.  However the tutor support seems almost 24 hours a day and I have had numerous Skype tutorials and email conversations when required.  

The course is incredibly informative and up to date.  It really challenges your clinical reasoning.  As a result you really see the difference in clinical practice.   While it is incredibly tough fitting in the studying, work and family, the modular route does give you the flexibility to manage your time and decide when to fit modules in.  The tutors are understanding and help you plan your time efficiently.

It really is the most diverse course out there and, in my opinion the best.”


Sarah Ely, MSc Pain Science and Management

“I completed the MSc in Pain Science and Management in 2015. The programme was highly relevant to my clinical practice as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist and has dramatically improved the way that I manage pain with my patients. The teaching methods across the different modules were varied and innovative and have developed my academic and clinical skills in numerous ways. Studying part-time alongside a full-time clinical post is tough, but the course structure was flexible enough to fit around my commitments and the variety made it enjoyable. After completing the course, the staff at Keele have been very supportive, encouraging dissemination of research and offering opportunities to further develop a research career.  Choosing this course was the best career decision I made.”