MSc Extreme Medicine

Duration Part time 3 years
  • Healthcare and Medicine
LocationExeter (St Luke‘s)
Plus short residential courses
Start date September


This unique Masters programme is delivered in partnership between the University of Exeter Medical School and World Extreme Medicine, the world's leading provider of specialist training courses for medics taking their skills into challenging environments.

The programme’s hallmarks are the practical skills, knowledge and understanding needed to perform at the highest possible level in the field of extreme medicine. Key features are the residential locations of the courses across the UK, and environment specific modules located in mountain, jungle, desert and polar regions. This is medicine at its best, crossing geographical and professional boundaries.

You will be likely to work with the wider healthcare community - paramedics, nurses, doctors, and military medics. You will be working or looking to work in situations of rapid change and uncertainty and you will be looking to demonstrate capabilities that extend beyond clinical competence into areas such as leadership, communications, teamwork, resilience, humanitarian relief, planning and logistics. The programme's foundations are rooted in the core values of collaboration, challenge, community, impact and rigour, embedded firmly within the University’s mission to make the exceptional happen, by challenging traditional thinking and defying conventional boundaries.

Applicants must select the PgCert when applying. You will firstly enrol on the PGCert and subsequently enrol on the PGDip/MSc at a later stage.

Programme structure

You will critically examine the challenges of providing safe and effective healthcare in a range of challenging environments. You will focus on both the evaluation of health issues to be expected in the field and the planning and preparation phase for any remote or wilderness activity. Key to the programme is that you learn to recognise and evaluate the unique ethical, professional and legal challenges of delivering medical care in challenging environments. The programme will develop in you, the skills necessary to evaluate research literature, and manage the challenge of implementing health interventions where evidence may be weak or conflicting.

A key part of the programme are the short residential courses designed to provide the challenge of learning in an unfamiliar environment and relying on the collaboration and support of the other participants.

Expert tutors will facilitate group discussions and project work and provide support for independent learning. Assessments are designed to provide opportunities for personal reflection, critical appraisal, evaluation and analysis to demonstrate the knowledge and skills gained throughout the programme.

Modules and delivery

The programme has a modular structure and consists of three modules for the PG Cert, with a further 60 credits of modules for the PG Dip, and the addition of the 60 credit MSc research project for the full MSc.

The initial PgCert consists of three modules, one 30 credit module and two 15 credit modules. You will be awarded your PgCert (year one) on completion of:

Module 1 - Core Concepts in Extreme Medicine – residential (30 credits)

(Dates for 2016/17: 30 October 2016 - 3 November 2016)

Corfe Castle

The residential aspect of the course will be four and a half days and supported by several faculty members. It will cover the core concepts of expedition wilderness medicine. The course will start with an induction to the whole programme on the first day of the residential; including details of tutor groups, assignment structures, guidance to completing master’s level coursework.

The residential will be made up of half lectures and half practicals. Each lecture and workshop will focus on an aspect of the core concepts.

Evenings will consist of talks from people who have personal experience of wilderness medicine. Students will leave with two pieces of Master’s level written assignments to complete. Full details will be given during the course.

Module 2 - Pre-hospital Trauma, Assessment and Treatment – residential (15 credits)

(Dates for 2016/17: 28 and 29 January 2017)

Ambulance Headquarters, Fulham, London

This is a two day face to face residential of talks and practicals. This covers the time period between the patient being first attended to and arriving in hospital. This module teaches the fundamental skills needed to assess, stabilise, package and transport patients to definitive care.

Evenings will consist of talks from people who have personal experience of wilderness medicine.

Students will be fully briefed during the course about assignments to complete.

Module 3 - Human Factors – Situational Awareness – residential (15 credits)

Dates for 2016/17: 21 - 23 April 2017)

Heatree Activity Centre, Dartmoor

This is a two day residential and will explore how individuals fit into teams depending on their roles and personality types, and will include a personality assessment.  It will test team dynamics. 

The first evening will focus on reflection of the course so far, presentations and a discussion around scenario planning; including how to deal with situations when they do not go as planned and managing uncertainty.

Day one will be spent outdoors and students will be set challenges under the supervision of their tutor. The challenges will increase in intensity and students will increasingly be expected to think for themselves. 

The outdoor experience will continue on Sunday until they return to the venue for the evening where they will reflect on their learning.

For the final assignment, students will reflect on team dynamics.

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

The programme is delivered part time through a blend of delivery methods. The taught components of the core modules are short duration (2-4 day) intensive residential courses.

The taught component of the first year of the programme is delivered across three separate modules. Each based on its own residential course.

Teaching and learning methods

All material is designed for Masters level and will involve distance learning with keynote lectures, case studies, seminars and group discussion in addition to the residential programme.

In the second year and third years of the programme there is considerable scope within modules for you to direct your learning towards fields of particular interest, especially when undertaking the MSc through your choice of dissertation project and in your guided independent study.


Taught modules will be assessed through literature reviews, essays, and written reports. There is a strong focus on working collaboratively and learning from each other in small teams. An integral part of the programme is the residential postings to UK and international locations which additionally contextualise your learning.

Advice and support

Each student is allocated a personal tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies. The Programme Lead is also available to help with further guidance and advice.



Extreme Medicine is an emerging specialty. Graduates of the programme will enhance their medical skills to practice in challenging and remote environments. They will acquire field based knowledge and skills to demonstrate their strategic understanding of expedition operations, to potential employers and to the wider deployment team.

Potential roles may include:

  • Disaster response, working with NGO’s or government contracts
  • Medical cover for security operations
  • Expedition and wilderness medicine
  • Working with media organisations
  • Remote research or logistics

Entry requirements 2017

A 2.2 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a healthcare related discipline.

Applicants must select the PgCert when applying. You will firstly enrol on the PGCert and subsequently enrol on the PGDip/MSc at a later stage.

College entry

Individuals who don't meet the normal entry criteria but have relevant professional experience will also be welcomed on to this MSc programme. Qualifications and experience will be assessed on application and there will be opportunities for APL (Assessment of Prior Learning).

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

International students are normally subject to visa regulations which prevent part-time study. It is recommended that international students apply for the level of the final award you intend to complete i.e. PGCert, PGDip or Masters, due to the associated cost and requirements for a Tier 4 student visa.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0


Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Cambridge English: Advanced & Proficiency

Overall score 176. No less than 169 in any section.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2017/18

For 2017/18, fees will be charged pro rata for UK/EU students. Fees are subject to an annual increment each academic year.


This is a 3 year, part-time course. The annual fee for 2017 entry is:

UK/EU: £8,000
International: £9,000



UK/EU: £8,000
International: £9,000

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Extra items

Travel to the course venue

This may be the location of the course in the UK or an agreed meeting place, for an overseas course.

World Extreme Medicine provide information and a point of contact in the joining instructions each student receives when registering for the course.

Personal insurance

UK courses:

British residents - As with any time spent away from home, we suggest that student check their contents and/or personal insurance to confirm whether their belongings will be covered for any incident which may occur away from their home address.

International residents - International students will need to ensure that they have adequate insurance to cover their personal belongings and check with their home country to confirm their access to medical attention whilst in the UK.

Overseas courses (not applicable to the PgCert):

British and international residents – All will require adequate travel insurance which covers them for medical expenses and personal belongings and allows for trekking at altitude/winter activities (as appropriate, depending on the course attending) and lists helicopter evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Students may prefer to source their own insurance but if required, we can direct them to a good quality insurance provider we work with.

Kit and protective clothing

A kit list which will be supplied to students for each residential, but as a list of essential items, the following items are suggested:

Outdoor clothing – notably a waterproof jacket (£50-300) and trousers (£30-100), hat (£10), gloves (£10-40), warm walking socks (£5-15 per pair) plus clothes allowing freedom of movement
Sturdy walking boots (£50-200)
Warm fleece or top (£20-70)
40L Day pack (£15-100)
Water bottle (£1-10)
Head torch (£10-60)
Compass (£20-30)
Whistle (£2)
Roll mat (£15-70)
2 – 3 Season sleeping bag (£35-200)
Camping utensils - mug, bowl and spoon and a stove (£10-20)

These are basic items which any medic wanting to work in challenging environments will use again and again but you may choose to acquire additional kit or gadgets. Item price ranges extend from basic adequate kit to high end regular use kit.

Please note

The University considers the level of scholarships and bursaries on an annual basis. The awards available for 2017/18 entry will be published in autumn 2016. Scholarships and bursaries are not guaranteed on an annual basis.

Contact us

This is a unique programme and is likely to be different to any other MSc programme you may have looked at in terms of content and delivery. Please use the 'Ask a Question' box on the right if you would like to know about specific aspects of the course. For example, our most common enquiry has been about entry requirements. This programme is intended for doctors, postgraduate nurses and postgraduate paramedics, however if you are a post graduate in another allied medical profession, you may still be eligible for this course, so please feel free to contact us to discuss your application.

You may also wish to contact Extreme Medicine directly regarding any aspect of the residentials or discuss whether the course is suitable for you. They can be contacted directly through their website at

Contact us

Telephone: +44 (0)1392 725500

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Research degrees

If you would prefer a dissertation-based Masters rather than a taught and thesis Masters then this is available as the MSc by research: