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Digital medical illustration: Anterior (front) x-ray view (orthogonal) of human knee.


Structure and content

The course runs part-time over two years, commencing every two years. The next intake will be in October 2024.

Attendance at the University is required for short residential sessions of 4-5 days that take place eight times over the two years.

Teaching methods include lectures, small group sessions, problem-based learning scenarios and evaluation of academic papers. In addition, students are expected to undertake a considerable amount of self-directed learning in their own time, to build on the information provided in the teaching sessions.


A. Musculoskeletal Diseases: Scientific Principles

This module exposes students to the principles of musculoskeletal biology in health and disease including the cellular, molecular, genetic, immunological and biomechanical aspects of musculoskeletal science and medicine. Teaching is predominantly lecture-based but will also include interactive sessions and self-directed learning and presentation. The principle objective of this basic module is to provide a detailed and up-to-date understanding of bone, joint, cartilage, muscle and tendon biology with respect to cell biology, immunology, genetics and biomechanics. This will pave the way for more specialist study in the latter part of the programme.

B. Musculoskeletal Diseases: Applied Clinical Sciences

This module covers the breadth of clinical challenges facing rheumatologists and orthopaedic surgeons - from the most common conditions to unusual skeletal dysplasias, from paediatrics to tropical musculoskeletal disease and from malignancy to sports medicine. The focus throughout will be for students to develop a critical and evidence-based approach to musculoskeletal conditions, their diagnosis and management. In addition it will provide excellent preparation for either of the specialised modules undertaken later in the programme.

C. Research, Statistics and Epidemiology

This module provides a contemporary overview of common methods used in musculoskeletal research to evaluate disease and treatment. It will enable students to develop strong and answerable research questions, understand different research designs, apply appropriate outcome measures, and the ability to use appropriate statistical methods in the analysis of simple datasets. The module is interactive and will develop skills in presenting and displaying both quantitative and qualitative data. By the end of the module students will be more able to: 1) review and appraise methodology and statistical analyses reported in medical journals, 2) turn a research idea into a publication, 3) construct a believable research proposal.

D. Advanced Rheumatology

This module covers the scientific basis of genetic susceptibility to inflammatory and degenerative forms of bone and joint disease. Pathophysiological mechanisms relevant to various inflammatory arthropathies and inflammatory connective tissue disorders will be presented, including their relevance to identifying novel forms of treatment. Students are introduced to methods by which genetic markers, animal models and biomarkers can be used to explore relevant disease pathways, culminating in the identification of potential drug targets. Finally, the design of drug trials and use of biomarkers for studying the natural history of these diseases will be presented, using examples of current ongoing large scale studies.

E. Advanced Orthopaedics

This module provides an overview of the current clinical practice in various fields of elective orthopaedic surgery and the challenges ahead for the 21st century. It covers diverse areas which include translational technology, such as implantable biologics and joint preservation surgery, as well as the iterative improvement of established treatments such as joint replacement and outcome assessment. This module will help students to gain an insight into cutting edge technology and basic science, as well as translational research in the field of clinical orthopaedics.

Assessment methods

There are a number of formative and summative assessments throughout the 2-year course which include literature review of up to 4,000 words, two MCQ papers and two short answer written papers. In the final year, students are required to submit a research proposal in the form of a ‘mock’ grant application. In addition throughout the course students will be required to give a number of formative and summative oral presentations.

Read the MSc in Musculoskeletal Sciences Student Handbook for 2020-2022