Postgraduate Diploma Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine


The Postgraduate Diploma Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine programme is designed specifically for clinicians to build on your existing knowledge, skills and experience and develop mastery in the clinical and service aspects of Musculoskeletal Medicine.

  1. The Rila Institute of Health Sciences administers the programme, which is validated by University of Plymouth
  2. This means that when you successfully complete all parts of the programme, you will receive the University of Plymouth qualification of a Postgraduate Diploma in Musculoskeletal Medicine, and may, if you wish, attend the graduation ceremony.
  3. You will enrol as a student of the Rila Institute of Health Sciences and will be registered with the University.
  4. Should you not complete the full programme, then you will be provided with a transcript recording the individual elements of the programme successfully completed.

General information – Postgraduate Diploma Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine:

Rila Institute of Health Sciences has developed a Postgraduate Diploma in Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine to be offered to students from UK and overseas.

  1. The programme has been designed specifically for physicians either already employed or wishing to work in Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine.
  2. The course runs for one academic year. For exact course dates and locations please check website.
  3. The course integrates several components of learning. There are reading topics. Understanding of these core topics is assessed through a series of online Higher Order Thinking Questions.
  4. The reading topics i.e. resource learning material, which are specifically commissioned by Rila Institute of Health Sciences, cover the essential elements in developing core knowledge and skills in Musculoskeletal Medicine.
  5. Workshop/lectures is held at the start of the course in the international regional centre, but usually in the UK. This is structured to include lectures and a one day workshop relevant to developing a sound basis for Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine.
  6. Workshop/lectures will also be held during the course.
  7. Situational Judgement Tests and Learning will provide experience in core domains for a clinician e.g. Professionalism, Patient Focus, Effective communication, Working under pressure, Working within a Team
  8. Assessment is partly by continuous assessment of the reading topics and mini-tests, both carried out on line. There will also be a final examination held in the international regional centre or UK.

Structure of the Postgraduate Diploma Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine:

  1. There are 3 modules comprising the Postgraduate Diploma level award.
  2. In each period of 5-7 days a particular topic (detailed in the programme calendar) is studied by way of a specially written article. Each topic is assessed by way of Higher Order Thinking Questions, for which there is a deadline date. A number of timed mini-exams are conducted online, and the student is strongly recommended to participate in this activity.
  3. Workshop/lecture, held in the international regional centre at the start of the each programme. This will provide tutorials, lectures and practical demonstrations.
  4. You will also have an opportunity to meet other doctors on the course and medical staff from the UK and overseas.
  5. There are usually workshops and interactive webinars during the course, depending on your programme of study and a final examination held at the international center or in UK.

Course Syllabus

Postgraduate Diploma Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine comprises Modules 1, 2 and 3

Module 1: Core generic knowledge & skills

  • Determinants of health
  • Lifestyle factors in health
  • Identification of risk factors
  • Nutrition and health
  • Breaking bad news.

Module 2: Advances in Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine

Topics include:

  • Anatomy and physiology of the normal joint and surrounding tissues, Immunology of inflammation and auto-immunity, use of imaging,, drug treatment in musculoskeletal medicine, non-drug treatment in musculoskeletal medicine, the hip, the knee, the ankle, the foot, gout and pseudogout, common disorders of the lower limb in children, the shoulder, the elbow, the wrist, the hand, polymyalgia rheumatica and Giant cell arteritis, general upper limb problems, the spine, management of neck pain, management of low back pain, disc and facet joint disease and sciatica, red flag conditions of the spine, vertebral fracture, fibromyalgia and ME, chronic regional pain syndrome, hypermobility, drug treatment of chronic pain, non-drug treatments in chronic pain, osteoporosis investigation, osteoporosis treatment, falls, Paget’s disease, osteomalacia, , fractures, early synovitis, rheumatoid arthritis, sero-negative arthritis, connective tissue diseases and vasculitis, drug monitoring.

Module 3: Clinical Practice in Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine

Clinical skills including the following amongst others:

1. Clinical examination of:

  • The neck
  • The lumbar spine
  • The ankle
  • The foot
  • The knee
  • The hip
  • The shoulder
  • The elbow
  • The wrist
  • The hand

2. Joint and soft tissue injection

  • Knee aspiration & injection
  • Gleno-humeral joint aspiration and injection
  • Sub acromial bursa
  • Tennis elbow injection
  • Dr Quervain’s teno-synovitis injection
  • Trigger finger injection
  • Achilles tendon injection
  • Plantar fasciitis injection
  • Trochanteric bursa

Minimum Requirements for the web learning aspects:

  1.  A specific area of the Rila Institute of Health Sciences website is dedicated to the Postgraduate Postgraduate Diploma in Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Medicine.
  2. You will be issued with a user name and password.
  3. You MUST have computer access to the internet and it will be your responsibility to ensure that this is the case.
  4. The website will provide facilities such as Forums, a Bulletin Board, online Chat Room etc.
  5. You will be provided with information on how to use the web site.

Admission criteria:

Participants admitted to this programme will need to meet following criteria:

Provide a satisfactory reference from a senior health care practitioner or line manager with knowledge of your work and experience, and who is able to support your suitability to participate in the programme.

Plus, fulfil the following criteria:

  • Be in possession of an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) or
  • an equivalent medical degree from a World Health Organization recognised institution.

Note that if the medical degree or other qualification was not taught in the English language a score of 5.5, in all elements, in the British Council IELTS test, or equivalent (e.g. Test of English as a Foreign Language) will usually be required.

Award of the Postgraduate Diploma:

  1. You are strongly recommended to complete the formative assessments related to each topic and the mini exams. Try and attain at least 50% marks.
  2. The final examination, to be held in the central location, is mandatory for all students.
  3. The final examination MUST be passed for the Diploma (Modules 1, 2 and 3) to be awarded.
  4. The final examination consists of a paper based format of Higher Order Thinking Assessments (Single Best Option, Extended Matching Questions, and Clinical Quiz).
  5. The examiners are consultants and an external examiner(s) are appointed by University of Plymouth.


The Diploma are accredited/validated as follows:

  1. Validated by the University of Plymouth – awarding institution

Organisations involved

  1. University of Plymouth with whom the candidates are registered and who control the quality assurance and the award of the final diploma.
  2. UK and overseas based specialists in Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine, provide the content, curriculum and clinical guidance, and host the final examination.
  3. Rila Institute of Health Sciences, London, which is a collaborative organisation of the University, provides all administrative and logistical support to the course.

Apply Now