This course is 'Subject to Approval' and has not yet completed the University’s approvals process. Whilst we are confident that the course will be approved, there is the possibility that the course may not run or may be subject to alterations. This course is due to be validated by August 2022 after which we will write to all applicants who have applied for the course to let them know the outcome and of any changes. In the event that a course is not approved the University will make reasonable efforts to offer an alternative course at the University.

PgCert First Contact Practice in Primary Care

Are you an allied health professional working or wanting to work in first contact practice in primary care? This career-enhancing postgraduate certificate focuses on developing the clinical, professional and academic skills needed to work as a first contact practitioner. You’ll learn to assess and manage patients presenting with a wide range of common conditions at the front line of primary care and extend your knowledge with an option module of your choice.

First Contact Practice in Primary Care

Key information



Mode of Study:



12 months


University of Bolton

Start date:

To be confirmed

Course Details

First contact practitioners (FCPs) work as diagnostic clinicians at the first point of contact in primary care. The University of Bolton's PgCert First Contact Practitioner in Primary Care is ideal if you're an experienced allied health professional seeking to become an FCP. To complete this course, you must undertake a minimum of 75 hours of clinical practice learning in primary care under the supervision of a suitably qualified clinical mentor.

Our expert team will focus on helping you do what you do best – caring for patients. This clinically-focused postgraduate course supports you in developing the knowledge and skills essential to directly care for patients or take on senior clinical roles. It dispenses with traditional modules on research methods, professional development planning and leadership, replacing them with modules directly relevant to patient care. If you seek answers to questions such as "Why is this patient's inflammatory marker raised?" or "How do I manage a patient presenting with chronic pain and showing signs of depression?" this is the course for you. Built around clinical problems, patient journeys, and case studies, this course takes a problem-solving approach to clinical learning, helping you develop the skills you’ll need in practice.

Worth 60-credits at the postgraduate level, this PgCert incorporates two modules. The 40-credit First Contact Practice in Primary Care module is core to this programme. It will support you in developing the advanced clinical thinking, clinical reasoning, and higher-level clinical practice skills demanded for the FCP role. Our experienced and supportive team will help you build the knowledge and understanding needed to assess and diagnose issues, advise patients on managing their conditions, and refer them to specialist services when necessary. We'll emphasise communication and consultation skills, promote your understanding of the primary care landscape, referral pathways and processes, and consider the implications for patients and staff in secondary and tertiary care. You'll also explore the clinical and safeguarding issues for vulnerable groups and discuss patient safety, service development and innovation.

In addition, you’ll choose a 20-credit option module that complements your professional interests and prior experience. We offer a range of option modules that will enhance your understanding of first contact practice. For instance, you can further develop your clinical practice or clinical examination skills, or build your knowledge of areas such as geriatric, respiratory or acute medicine. If more than one of these modules meets your career development goals, rest assured you can continue your studies in any of these areas after completing your PgCert because all the option modules are available as stand-alone professional development courses.

Please note that if you do not already have suitable employment in primary care, you'll need to secure an appropriate placement before enrolling on this course.

  • This PgCert aligns with stages 1 and 2 of Health Education England's Roadmaps to Practice for allied health professionals, which form the standard of practice and proof of capability in primary care.
  • Our dedicated academic team brings extensive health and social care experience to the course content. Along with their passion for service excellence in clinical practice settings, they're also currently engaged in highly relevant research, which means they can add valuable context and insight to your learning.
  • The course is designed to fit in with busy home and working lives.
  • As you study this course, we'll encourage you to develop the skills, values and behaviours so popular with employers. These include action planning, personal impact and confidence, self-awareness, social and ethical responsibility, problem-solving, initiative and communication skills.
Key Features
  • The University of Bolton has been offering high-quality courses designed to meet the health and social care sector's needs for over 30 years, so we have the knowledge and experience to anticipate and respond to changes in the health and social care sector.
  • We welcome allied health professionals such as dieticians, paramedics, physiotherapists, podiatrists and occupational therapists.
  • We review the course curriculum regularly to ensure we include and apply contemporary theories.
  • After successfully completing this course, you'll be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in First Contact Practice in Primary Care from the University of Bolton.
Professional recognition

This PgCert aligns with stages 1 and 2 of Health Education England's Roadmaps to Practice for allied health professionals, which form the standard of practice and proof of capability in primary care. After successfully completing this course, you'll be eligible to register with the Centre for Advancing Practice as a first contact practitioner (FCP).

  • To undertake this course, you must offer current professional registration as an allied health professional with evidence of a minimum of 3 years of post-registration experience in professional practice. A first degree relevant to your health care practice is desirable and/or recent study at Level HE6.
  • You must be working in primary care or have a suitable primary care placement agreement in place. As part of the course, you must undertake a minimum of 75 hours of clinical practice learning in primary care under the supervision of a suitably qualified clinical mentor.
  • You must have the support of your employer.
  • You’ll need to provide details of your clinical mentor before enrolment. Your clinical mentor must be a registered medical practitioner or advanced clinical practitioner and have clinical responsibilities in primary care. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the appropriate supervision from a clinical mentor to enable you to complete the course.
  • You may be required to attend an interview and/or provide a portfolio of work.
  • If English isn’t your first language, you’ll also need IELTS 7.0 with normally no less than 6.5 in any band (or equivalent). We also accept a range of other English language qualifications – please visit our English Language Requirements web page for more details.
  • Please note that this course is subject to the University of Bolton's Fitness to Practise procedure.

Where changes are made to material information contained in this course description or a decision is taken to suspend a course between the offer of admissions and enrolment, we will inform applicants at the earliest possible opportunity and will outline the various options available to the applicant.

A first contact practitioner (FCP) is a diagnostic clinician working in primary care at the top of their clinical scope of practice at Agenda for Change Band 7 or equivalent. This allows the FCP to assess and manage undifferentiated and undiagnosed presentations within the scope of their professional role. If you're an allied health professional, completing the University of Bolton's PgCert First Contact Practice in Primary Care will support you in becoming an FCP. By completing this PgCert successfully, you'll be eligible to register as a first contact practitioner (FCP).

What can I do with this qualification?

Once you've successfully completed our PgCert First Contact Practice in Primary Care and registered with the Centre for Advancing Practice, you'll be able to apply for FCP roles in primary care. Typically, you'll find employment with a GP practice or primary care network, working as part of an integrated team. You'll provide first contact to patients with conditions covered by your scope of practice and potentially with other complex medical needs. You'll work independently, leading patient care management that includes assessment, treatment and onward referral for diagnostic or secondary care services as required. You'll be able to provide and advise on a range of treatment options within your scope of practice and competence.

As an ambitious FCP, you may be keen to progress up to the Advanced Practitioner (AP) level. After completing this course, you may wish to pursue one of the University of Bolton's MSc Advanced Clinical Practice pathways. Alternatively, our range of advanced professional development courses allows you to study individual short courses on specialist topics that match your career development goals.

Alternative career options

You may also use this qualification as a stepping-stone into a range of other careers. For some of these roles, both relevant experience and/or postgraduate study may be required. Possible areas include:

  • Public health
  • Management
  • Higher education teaching
  • Clinical research
  • Health promotion

Course fees

Important note regarding tuition fees for the 2023-2024 academic year: EU nationals who meet residency requirements (have settled or pre-settled status) may be eligible for 'Home' fee status. If you do not meet these residency requirements, overseas fees will apply. Irish citizens living in the UK or Ireland will be eligible for 'Home' fee status under the Common Travel Area arrangement. Please read the student finance for EU students web page on for information.

The fees for a student's course of study will be set for the normal duration of that course subject only to inflationary increases – measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded in March each year to take effect for subsequent start dates.

Additional costs

There may be some additional or optional costs associated with this course. These will be published after approval of the programme.

For details of how to apply for this course, please choose your status from the options below:

Course application details are unavailable at present

Course application details are unavailable at present

Course application details are unavailable at present

Our learning and teaching strategies are both challenging and supportive, using a blended style that includes online delivery and engagement, where appropriate. Working in concert, the methods we use aim to create an engaging and incremental learning experience, with spiral components that reinforce and embed learning. We carefully match our approach to the subject so that it contributes to the development of softer decision-making skills that are not easily taught by other means. 80% of your learning will take place in your workplace, with 20% on-site at the University.

For university-based learning, you can expect lectures, presentations, simulations delivered by tutors, seminar discussions, small group workshops, small group and one-to-one tutorials, practical sessions, and using virtual learning environments (VLE) and e-learning packages. Lectures introduce the core course content, while practical sessions give you practical experience and help consolidate your learning. Seminars seek to engage you and your peers in discussion and debate around specific issues and subjects. Tutorials offer you space to ask questions, ensuring you understand the topics covered in lectures, seminars and practical sessions. Key practical elements will be delivered in the Clinical Simulation Suite in Bolton One. This suite is a simulated clinical environment complete with simulated patients.

During workplace learning, you'll experience clinical exposure to patients under the supervision of a mentor. Here, you'll learn to apply your new knowledge and skills in practice.

We use case-based learning, an approach where patient case studies form the basis of learning activities. This ensures that you assimilate knowledge in context. Cases are used to introduce anatomical and physiological structures, explain pathology and make sense of examination findings. We also use cases to support the development of your clinical skills and enhance your decision-making in practice. Cases will range from simple ones used for in-class discussion to more complicated practical simulated clinical scenarios, as well as presentations about cases practitioners have personally encountered. Action learning sets will form an integral part of your learning. Where you take responsibility for their running, they’re exceptionally effective in providing peer support, exchanging knowledge, and finding solutions to learning issues. We'll also use problem-based learning from time to time so that you can investigate and synthesise the knowledge needed for a particular aspect of work-based learning.

During the early stages of each module, we’ll maximise the support we offer. As each module progresses, we’ll build in logical and important steps that develop your skills in independent learning at the postgraduate level. Please be aware that to succeed on this course, you'll need to undertake a significant amount of self-directed study, including general background reading, preparing for seminar activities, working on assignments, and revision.

In terms of assessment, you can expect a range of methods tailored to each module and the learning outcomes. These may include, but are not limited to, essays, reports, presentations, portfolios, set exercises via multiple choice questions, objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE), traditional examinations, and assessment of practice within the practice setting. The summative assessments contribute to your final marks and allow you to demonstrate that you've met the learning outcomes. We also use other forms of assessment to help you learn, provide feedback, and inform your development, though these don't count towards your final marks. These help to identify any areas that would benefit from extra attention on your part or where you need additional support from your tutor.


The university will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver your course as described in its published material and the programme specification for the academic year in which you begin your course. The university considers changes to courses very carefully and the university will minimise any changes. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis and changes may be necessary due to legitimate staffing, financial, regulatory and academic reasons. The content of course modules and mode of associated assessments may be updated on an annual basis. This is to ensure that all modules are up-to-date and responsive to employment and sector needs. The published course material and the programme specification contain indicative ‘optional modules’ that may be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control. For this reason, we cannot guarantee to run any specific optional module.

The academic staff detailed above teach across a range of courses in this subject area and may not teach on this course specifically.

Programme Contacts

Jalal Mamun
Programme Leader and Admissions Tutor

Aneeta Khoso

Enquiry Team
University of Bolton

+44 (0)1204 903903


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Help Centre

We have the answers to your questions, find all the advice and support in one place.

Part of the University of Bolton Group

Bolton college
Alliance learning
Anderton centre2
QQA Scheme Participant