PGD Cardiology for Practitioners with a Special Interest
University of Bradford
Bradford and Airedale teaching Primary Care Trust
Awarding institution: University of Bradford
Teaching institution: Bradford and Airedale teaching Primary Care Trust
Final award: Post Graduate Diploma
Post Graduate Certificate
Programme title: Cardiology for Primary Care Practitioners with a Special Interest
Duration: Normally 18 months part-time, but up to five years
Programme approved by: Royal College of General Practitioners;
Royal College of Physicians (September 2003)
Recommendation by: The Primary Care Cardio-Vascular Society
Original: November 2003
Last updated: March 2005
This part-time diploma is an interprofessional course, comprising a large element of work-based learning.
Students therefore need not be Bradford-based in order to undertake the programme. This course enables
General Practitioners (GPs) and other registered health professionals, in particular primary care practitioners,
to gain a formally recognised standard of competence in the area of cardiology as a special interest. It is the
first course of its kind run from within the NHS to offer national accreditation in cardiology. In this regard, the
course has been well received by key professional medical bodies. The programme has gained the approval
in its structure and clinical components of the Chair of the Cardiology Committee of the Royal College of
Physicians, Dr Peter Mills. The Primary Care Cardio-Vascular Society recommends the diploma for cardiology
as a special interest. It has been approved by the RCGP in line with national guidance for GPs in higher
The course structure is specifically designed to encourage the development of this specialist practitioner role,
by encouraging collaborative clinical work-based training between the Practitioner and the consultant.
Additionally, the course links the Practitioner's training with their host Primary Care Trust (PCT) service, in
order to attempt to ensure that newly acquired skills are put to appropriate use within the PCT post-
Your learning will be channelled through the Bradford Primary Care Trusts, which have seen sustained
national achievements for innovation in practice and excellence in training. Bradford Primary Care Trusts
have been instrumental in moving the General Practitioner with a Special Interest (GPwSI) agenda forward
nationally. In 1999, Bradford South and West Primary Care Group was awarded the Service Development
Award of the National Association of Primary Care for its work on the role of the GPwSI and in 2001 achieved
"Beacon" status for this aspect of its work. Equally the Commission for Health Improvement Reports on
Clinical Governance gave the Bradford PCTs involved in the development of this course a commendation for
their work with GPwSIs.
A. Programme Aims
The programme is intended to:
A.1 Enable GPs and other Practitioners to work confidently at a ‘special interest’ level in Cardiology.
A.2 Contribute to the extension of the role of the PwSI in Cardiology.
A.3 Provide a nationally recognised standard in the training of PwSI’s in Cardiology.
A.4 Establish and/or extend professional collaboration within cardiac care, in order to develop the most
appropriate care pathways for the patient.
B. Programme Learning Outcomes
These learning outcomes are compatible with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.
On successful completion of this award, you will be able to:
B1 Subject knowledge and understanding
B1.1 Use current and emerging knowledge to differentiate between the pathophysiologies and
epidemiologies of cardiological disease.
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B2 Discipline skills
B2.1 Triage and refer appropriately, patients whose symptoms may be due to cardiological disease.
B2.2 Undertake appropriate investigations for patients presenting with cardiological symptoms and
interpret the results accurately.
B2.3 Diagnose and manage patients who present with cardiological symptoms, by means of
appropriate lifestyle and clinical interventions.
B2.4 Evaluate the PwSI role, and its implications for the whole patient pathway and current
techniques for improving the delivery of patient care.
B3 Personal Transferable Skills
B3.1 Work autonomously and collaboratively with consultants and a range of hospital staff or
primary care staff.
B3.2 Critically appraise and update their clinical knowledge.
B3.3 Apply information technology as a medium for communication and presentation of data.
C The Curriculum
The Postgraduate Diploma in Cardiology for Primary Care Practitioners with a Special Interest is a modular
programme which can be completed in 18 months if modules are taken sequentially, or may be staggered
over a period not exceeding three years, other than in exceptional circumstances, where study is proved
viable over five years. Exceptional circumstances may include illness, pregnancy or long-term family crises,
although each application will be taken on its merits. Each of the three clinical modules lasts six months. The
fourth module is the Applied Methodologies Module (AM) which can be taken alongside one or more of the
other modules, over a maximum period of 18 months.
Each module is worth 30 credits, amounting to a total of 120 credits. For the Postgraduate Diploma, all 30-
credit modules are core modules. For the Postgraduate Certificate, the only core module is the Applied
Methodologies (AM) module. One or two options may be chosen from the clinical modules to form your
programme of study. Any 30-credit module can be studied independently, outside of a Postgraduate award.
However, you are recommended to study for the diploma in order to gain the value of a broad education, and
the course provides flexibility to enable this. The curriculum is summarised in the following table:
Code Module title C or O Credits Level Semester*
HH-8000T Applied Methodologies C 30 M 18 months
HH-8002T Hypertension, arrhythmias and conduction disorder C (O) 30 M 6 months
HH-8003T Ischaemic heart disease C (O) 30 M 6 months
HH-8001T Heart failure and valvular disease C (O) 30 M 6 months
C = Core O = Optional for certificate *This programme is outside the normal semester timetable
D Teaching Learning and Assessment Strategies
This postgraduate diploma is run by Bradford and Airedale teaching Primary Care Trust. The award is made
through the University of Bradford, and this award articulates with the Postgraduate requirements of the
University of Bradford.
A variety of teaching methods is employed in the programme, to enable you to fulfil the varied modular
learning outcomes. Your programme of study will start with two teaching days in Bradford (one for the AM
module, one for your first clinical module), followed by your clinical placement and directed study for at least
14 weeks (clinical modules). Alongside this, your directed study for the AM module will begin, for up to 18
months. For your clinical modules only, you will return to Bradford after placement for an assessment day,
which will be followed by the next clinical module teaching day.
A large portion of your study will be work-based learning, i.e. those elements of your programme, which take
place in your locality:
1 The clinical components of the programme centre around work-based learning, i.e. practical learning
in a work environment. This learning is undertaken on placement in your locality, under the supervision of a
clinical mentor. Mentors are GMC registered consultant cardiologists whose names appear on a national
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register of practitioners. Your clinical mentor will receive a specific Mentor Guide including advice and support
from the course management team in the role of mentor.
2 a. The tasks for your directed study on placement are as follows: the development and completion of a
programme of activities with your mentor, to fulfil clinical competence-based learning outcomes; recording
your placement cases using a learning diary, to reveal your learning progress and learning needs; through
guided reading, which underpins your knowledge base for the course (in the form of lists and website
references), obtaining essential background information to the module studied to inform your practice and the
preparation of assessed work; through scheduled meetings with your mentor, discussions concerning your
learning needs and possible solutions (e.g. advice, further reading, alteration of elements of your programme).
b. The AM module involves working within your healthcare community to apply 3 different
methodologies. Directed study comprises researching and reading information, planning, preparation and
application of these.
3 It is anticipated that you will continue to work in your normal practitioner setting during the period of
study, and it is expected that ongoing learning will be applied in this context.
4 Peer learning is encouraged through peer contact in Bradford, and through participation in the online
group learning environment. Students will receive tuition in the use of this medium as part of their introduction
to the course.
Outcome B1.1 will be developed through: lectures, seminars and workshops on the teaching/assessment
days; a course manual; guided study via websites, journals and books; and mentor-led discussion of cases.
Outcome B1.1 will be assessed through clinical case studies. Outcomes B2.1 - B2.3 will be developed through
practical engagement with patients in the hospital setting under the supervision and mentorship of the
consultant; reflective discussion with the mentor; reflective learning through case study preparation and clinical
learning diary recording; the application of learning with patients in general practice; and will be supported by
guided reading. These outcomes will be assessed principally by the mentor and other clinicians, who will
observe and sign off the participant as competent. Additionally, the learning diary provides a comprehensive
record of cases experienced, and the case studies indicate your ability to demonstrate skills coherently.
Outcome B2.4 will be developed through lectures, seminar and workshop-style sessions, interviews of
professionals within the service and with patients, guided study especially of current NHS websites. Outcome
B3.1 is intrinsic to the nature of the placement, and will be tested through continual mentor observation.
Outcome B3.2 will be developed through lectures, guided study and the preparation of critical appraisal
papers, both written and for presentation. Assessment for outcomes B2.4-B3.2 will be made through
submission of a critical appraisal paper, a patient pathway paper and a portfolio of evidence showing patient
involvement methodologies. Outcome B3.3 will be developed and assessed through the submission of
documentation for the course, especially within the AM module, and participation in the online group learning
All written clinical assessments will be submitted by hand in Bradford on the assessment day following each
modular placement. Submissions of assessed work are made electronically in the AM module. Assessments
will be marked in accordance with the University of Bradford, School of Health Studies, Masters level marking
E Admission Requirements
The application process is divided into two parts: 1. Submission of an application form indicating that you meet
the professional/educational criteria. 2. Submission of letters of support showing suitability for you to
undertake this course of study. To be accepted onto the Diploma or Certificate, and to benefit from this course
of study, you must meet the admission requirements for Masters level, as outlined by the University of
Bradford, in addition to those required by Bradford and Airedale teaching Primary Care Trust. You should be
a registered practitioner (GMC, NMC or HPC as appropriate) who falls within the following groups: General
practitioner; specialist cardiac nurse; nurse practitioner; nurse consultant; clinical assistant; other suitably
qualified registered primary care practitioner. GPs are additionally required to provide their GP Qualification
details and GMC registration number, and to show an interest or a background in cardiology. It is desirable,
but not essential, for GPs to be Members of the Royal College of General Practitioners. If you are not a GP,
you must provide evidence of a Cardiology-related Diploma or equivalent; several years' experience in cardiac
care; and 2-3 years post-qualifying practitioner experience. It is desirable for candidates to have experience in
All applications will be judged on their own merit and prior learning experience.
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Once your application has been made for the programme, you must obtain support from your local NHS
hospital trust cardiology consultant (GMC Registered) for mentorship and the provision of a placement.
Support must also be obtained from your local Primary Care Trust, for approval and direct or indirect support
for your training, as it relates to the local setting. Without this evidence of support, you cannot be admitted on
to the programme. Applications are welcomed from candidates with disabilities, who will be considered on the
same academic grounds as all other applicants.
F Admissions Policy
We can admit up to 12 participants per clinical module and up to 24 per research methodologies module. The
diploma has entry points in January and July. If demand is high for certain modules, these will be offered on
additional start dates to coincide with the entry points referred to above (a minimum of 6 participants is
required per module). The AM module teaching day will be followed by the clinical module teaching day.
Clinical modules take six months each to complete and are taken sequentially. The AM module begins with
and runs alongside the clinical modules over a maximum period of 18 months.
Verification of clinical competence must be indicated by your consultant-mentor's signature on assessment
day. Failure to present the signed documents which evidence this signify failure of the module, irrespective of
other work presented. All written work and the critical appraisal presentation must also be presented on
assessment day, in order for you to progress to the next module. The results of your assessments will be
made known in the weeks following assessment day. All assessment tasks must be passed by attaining 40%
of the full marks. This also applies to the AM module. Masters level marking criteria will be made available to
you to help you check your work. Clinical competence is a pass/fail element, with no assessment percentage
attached to it. Should you be unsuccessful in this element, you will be able to complete a further 8 clinical
sessions with the agreement of your consultant. A new study plan covering the areas of concern will be set up
and signed off by the mentor. This should be returned within three weeks of the dispatch of the letter detailing
the requirement to resit. You will normally have one opportunity to resit this element. Should you fail any other
element of your assessments, one opportunity to resubmit work will be allowed.
In accordance with the Ordinances and Regulations of the University of Bradford, the following applies:
To be eligible for a Postgraduate Diploma you must study all four 30-credit modules, amounting to 120 credits.
To be eligible for a Postgraduate Certificate, you must study units amounting to at least 60 credits i.e. at least
two 30-credit modules, one of which must be the Applied Methodologies module. The standard thresholds of
distinction (70% or more) and merit (60-69%) will apply for marked work of an exceptional nature for the award
of the Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate. Participants who succeed in one module only, and
who do not qualify for one of the above awards, shall be eligible for the award of a Certificate of Continuing
Education. Exam boards will be scheduled as required to make completed awards.
H Student support and guidance
Your course manual will support you in all aspects of work-based learning and assessments. Tutor support
during the placement period will be provided by a system of email queries, initially. Peer support is available
to assist you with your clinical questions through participation in the online group learning environment. The
course coordinator will handle enquiries of a general nature or allocate queries to tutors. It is anticipated that a
significant amount of discussion relating to cases, working arrangements, progress, and approaches to study
will result from this group. Support you can expect from your mentor is outlined within the mentor guide. The
guide also enables mentors to understand the support they will receive automatically, and can gain if required
from the course tutors. You are invited and encouraged to express your opinions about the course structure,
materials, process etc throughout your training, and will have a formal feedback opportunity after each module
is completed. Participants will be represented on a Course Management Committee and may feedback
through this, in addition to paper-based evaluation processes for end of unit (module) and stage (course)
evaluation from the University of Bradford.
Whilst you are aware of support offered, you are also made aware of your responsibilities in the participant
course manual: taking responsibility for organising your own learning, ensuring your placement arrangements
are acceptable; returning course forms/assessment submissions on time; attendance at the first teaching day
and the concluding assessment day for each clinical module and at the initial teaching day for the AM module;
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patient confidentiality; working to a professional code of conduct; and alerting the course tutors to problems
which will affect your training.
Any complaints should be made to the course co-ordinator in the first place, who will then forward this to the
course team. The team will review the case, involving the appropriate tutor and/or mentor at its discretion if
necessary. Should the complaint not be solved satisfactorily at this stage, the University and/or members of
the Bradford and Airedale teaching Primary Care Trust outside the course team will be involved as relevant.
Any appeals against decisions made in the Assessment/Examination Board should be made to the Education
Lead, who will then forward this via the appropriate channels to the University.
I Further Information/Disclaimers
For further details about the course including course dates, costs, and more detailed learning outcomes
please email: email@example.com. Changes in the above specification may be made at any time by the
Bradford and Airedale teaching Primary Care Trust, but notification will be made to you as appropriate.
Elements of the programme are subject to University conditions including its status as an approved course.
The University reserves the right to alter or withdraw these elements at any time, and you will be notified by
the Bradford and Airedale teaching Primary Care Trust should this occur.
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