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What is MSC?

MSC was developed by the Chief Scientific Officer Sue Hill and Department of Health with the aim of developing a sustainable workforce for the future. It addresses some of the difficulties currently facing the Healthcare Science workforce in terms of education, skill mix and workforce planning by providing a clear framework of education and workforce development.

In the UK, Audiology is considered a part of Healthcare Science and it is included in the Healthcare Science career framework in the NHS. This career framework provides the Healthcare Science workforce with a coherent career pathway across 9 levels and it includes aspects of education, training and workforce planning. Figure 1 is a summary of the proposed MSC Healthcare Science career pathway and it shows the entry points to the framework, as well as possible progression routes through the different framework levels. It is important to note that the NHS employs the majority of Audiologists in the UK.


Figure 1 – Modernising Scientific Careers: career and training pathways (DH, 2010)

BAA has been working with DH to enable each part of the pathway so that it is as beneficial to our members, and the new recruits into the profession, as we can possibly achieve.

The MSC programme was developed through a consultation process initiated by a DH publication in November 2008, called ‘The Future of the Healthcare Science workforce, Modernising Scientific Careers: the next steps’. In this document, the 51 disciplines of Healthcare science were grouped into 3 overarching strands: Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering and Physiological Sciences. Audiology falls within Physiological Sciences and is grouped with Vision Sciences and Neurophysiology in the Neurosensory Science sub strand. In February 2010, the DH published a report called ‘Modernising Scientific Careers: The UK Way Forward.’  This report presented the outcome of the consultation period and discussed proposed routes for undergraduate and postgraduate training, in Healthcare Science. It is the result of three years worth of work, across the four countries of the United Kingdom. For the purpose of discussing education, as specified by the MSC programme, we will focus on the sub strand that contains Audiology.


The MSC programme provides specific curricula for each profession, in the Healthcare Science workforce. This was achieved by combining the education and training of relevant disciplines, in a structure that contains a mixture of generic and specialist content. For Audiology this meant including content for Vision Sciences and Neurophysiology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels (DH, 2010). Figure 2 provides a summary explaining the link between education and the suite of courses within the MSC programme as well as the career framework levels (please note that this summary does not include equivalence for other relevant courses).


Figure 2 – Links between level of education, the courses within the MSC programme and the HCS career framework

Undergraduate and postgraduate degree structures

In 2011, three Universities in the UK were accredited to offer the BSc (Hons) in Healthcare Science (Audiology (Practitioner Training Programme (PTP)) degree and two to offer the MSc in Clinical Science (Scientist Training Programme (STP)). A further five Universities were accredited to offer the PTP degree in 2012. The curricula for the Healthcare Science Assistant and Associate, as well as for the Higher Specialist Scientific Training Programme (HSST), should be available from 2014/2015.  We will now consider the structures of the PTP and STP as specified by the MSC curricula (see weblink 2 below).


Practitioner Training Programme (PTP)

BSc in Healthcare Science (Audiology)

This is a three year BSc Honours degree in Healthcare Science (Audiology) and each of the three years contains a mixture of theory and work based placement. The first year of this degree, provides students with an introduction to Neurosensory Sciences and it includes a rotational placement in all three areas (Audiology, Vision and Neurophysiology). The second and third year of the degree, provides specialisation in one of the three areas. Students can decide at the end of their first year, to change to another specialism but may have to move to another University to pursue it.

Scientist Training Programme (STP)

MSc in Clinical Science (Neurosensory Science)

The STP consists of a three year clinical training programme, combining work based training with an MSc degree. The work based element of the STP, is provided through funded scientific training posts in the NHS. Students are recruited to the Scientific Training Programme through a centralised, competitive process. The first 12 months of this programme contain rotational placements, within each area of the Neurosensory sub strand, followed by an 18 month placement in the designated specialist area.

Higher Specialist Scientific Training (HSST)

The Higher Specialist Scientific Training Programme (HSST) is a five-year workplace-based training programme supported by an underpinning doctoral-level academic programme and, where appropriate, Royal College qualifications.

The training programme is equivalent in its duration and standard of training to that undertaken by medical specialist registrars.  It offers workplace-based training supported by an underpinning doctorate-level academic programme.

For more information on MSC please see the following weblinks:

  1. NHS Careers: http://www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/explore-by-career/healthcare-science/modernising-scientific-careers/
  2. MSC curricula: http://www.networks.nhs.uk/nhs-networks/msc-framework-curricula/ptp-1
  1. The Future of the Healthcare Science Workforce, Modernising Scientific Careers: the next steps. 2008. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/www.dh.gov.uk/en/consultations/liveconsultations/dh_091137
  1. Modernising Scientific Careers: The UK Way Forward. 2010.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/modernising-scientific-careers-the-uk-way-forward


The information from this website was compiled from the weblinks above and an article written by Lizanne Steenkamp, entitled Modernising Scientific Careers and Audiology in the United Kingdom. It was published in ENT & Audiology in the 2014 July/August edition.