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In 2007, Edinburgh Surgery Online launched its first online masters programme. The pioneering three-year MSc in Surgical Sciences was established to support professional and academic development in the early years of surgical training. It was recognised for its innovation and excellence by the Queen’s Anniversary Award for Higher and Further Education in 2013.

The successful launch of a two-year ChM in General Surgery in September 2011 to support advanced surgical trainees was soon followed by ChM’s in Urology, Trauma and Orthopaedics, as well as Vascular and Endovascular Surgery. An MSc in Primary Care Ophthalmology and ChM in Clinical Ophthalmology were developed to support optometrists, other allied health care professionals and ophthalmologists in training. The most recent MSc in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors launched in 2018, recruiting a wide range of graduate health care professionals. 

The highly popular programmes have enrolled over 500 students each year. A total of 2,423 students from 76 countries have registered across the eight online masters programmes, which have seen over 1000 students and trainee surgeons graduate. Global outreach has increased considerably in recent years and is now underpinned by a large scholarship programme. In 2021 this provided full funding to 70 postgraduate students in low- and middle-income countries.

There is no doubt that this program has led to a significant improvement in my clinical ability

I am currently a year 2 student in the ChM in General Surgery. I pursued this Masters degree as I was keen to undertake a postgraduate degree without taking time out of formal training. I was also attracted to this program as it covers all components of the FRCS examination. Participation in the ChM in General Surgery has been a very positive experience. Although this is a part-time program it covers all topics required for the FRCS examination. There is no doubt that this program has led to a significant improvement in my clinical ability. The ChM in general surgery is taught by consultant surgeons who are proven trainers and experts in their field and the faculty is drawn from the United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand and the USA. In addition to the formal teaching there is the opportunity to complete a research project in a sub-speciality interest that gives students experience in research. The ChM has undoubtedly enhanced my knowledge base. I feel adequately prepared for the FRCS examination in general surgery and in addition it has allowed me to complete a research project that is relevant to my future career aspirations. I would recommend this program to any senior surgical trainee who wishes to complete a postgraduate degree that will adequately prepare them for the FRCS examination without taking time out from formal training. 

Mr Darren Porter

2018 Graduate

The MSc in Surgical Sciences provided a fantastic opportunity for ongoing education and research at the postgraduate level

I found both the coursework and research components very useful to my clinical work. Delivered through an online medium, it offered the flexibility of balancing studies with a full-time clinical load. I recommend the course to anyone wishing to undertake postgraduate studies in the surgical field!

Dr Sharman Tanny 


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