Postgraduate certificate in allergy

Authors: Shyla Chacko Jehangir 

Publication date:  19 Jul 2011

Imperial College London’s allergy programme offers the option to study for a postgraduate certificate in allergy or a full masters degree. The certificate (PG Cert Allergy) can be done in nine months of part time study, while the MSc is a two or three year programme.

Who is it for?

The certificate course is a blended direct teaching and e-learning course for healthcare professionals who deal with people who have allergies: doctors (whether hospital based or general practitioners), nurses, dietitians, and scientists from the UK and worldwide. Applicants would normally have a degree in medicine or an upper second class honours degree in a healthcare related subject, typically nursing, dietetics, immunology or physiology, or biomedicine. There were 30 people on the course when I did it.

What does it teach?

The postgraduate certificate in allergy offers a sound theoretical background to the principles and mechanisms of allergic disease and a very good practical programme in diagnosis and treatment. By the end of the course I was able to understand the immunological mechanisms in the manifestation of allergic diseases and interpret test results more accurately. I learnt the most up to date methods to do this.

How much work does it involve?

The course comprises 42 hours of lectures, 36 hours of clinical attendance, 36 hours of tutorials with course tutors (online and face to face), and 150 hours of online tasks. Students are expected to do about another 200 hours of private study and a further 170 hours of assessed coursework. Assessed coursework includes essays with a word limit of 2000-5000 words and written and practical examinations. The exams require a 50% pass mark. Putting in the hours required much discipline and planning but was manageable.

Who runs the course?

Jill Warner, reader in allergy and immunology at Imperial College London, runs the course. The college’s allergy programme is mainly located at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington. We also spent time in allergy clinics in other central London hospitals (affiliated to Imperial) with strong allergy services and world renowned allergy research programmes.

Why and when did you do it?

I am a paediatric staff grade doctor who was looking into developing a specialty after more than 20 years of being a general paediatrician. I started developing an interest in allergy and was recommended to go on this course. It gave me the best possible introduction, starting from the basics and gradually building up my knowledge. I did it in 2009-10.

How much does it cost?

The certificate course costs £2250 for UK and European Union students and £9070 for other overseas students, with additional costs for travel and accommodation for the three weeks of direct contact classes.

Was it worth it?

Yes, every part of the course, though challenging, was worth the effort. I enjoyed meeting a wide variety of practitioners and the excellent teaching, both face to face and through the virtual learning environment. The quality of the lectures was of a very high standard, and we were taught by some of the world leaders in the field of allergy. I have been able to apply my knowledge straight away in my allergy practice and impart this new information to many of my colleagues. Like three quarters of the people in my group I have since gone on to do the MSc, which I am halfway through.

Further information

Contact Jill Warner, reader in allergy and immunology, Imperial College London,  jill.warner@imperial.ac.uk, or Lisa Carrier, e-learning manager,  l.carrier@imperial.ac.uk, tel +44 (0)20 7594 7214; [Link] .

Competing interests: None declared.

Shyla Chacko Jehangir paediatric staff grade Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, UK


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