Paramedic science

The science of saving lives under pressure.

What is paramedic science?

Being the first responder to accident, injury, or distress requires a very particular set of skills.

Paramedics are highly trained medical practitioners, who make life-saving decisions under pressure, but also put patients and their families at ease during difficult situations. Combining social skills with vast medical knowledge is a unique ability, and one that paramedic science students master during their degree.

Paramedic science course entry requirements

Biology is the most important subject when applying for a paramedic science degree, with the other sciences and mathematics close behind. You’ll also need to show good grades in your chosen subjects, normally a B or above.

When applying for a paramedic science degree, you’ll want to demonstrate the kind of skills that would make you an effective paramedic. Think about decision-making, working in high pressure environments, resilience, stamina, and technical skills, but also integrity, compassion, and care.

What you will need to do
  • Apply by the January deadline
  • Attend an interview
  • Submit a personal statement
What you won’t need to do
  • Submit a portfolio
  • Audition for a place
  • Take an entry test
  • Show work experience

Can I become a nurse with a paramedic science degree?

Although nurses and paramedics have a similar medical grounding, paramedics are trained much more in the ‘firefighting’ of healthcare, while nurses are trained in the support and care aspects. To become a nurse, you would need to retrain and gain a nursing degree.

Why study paramedic science at university?

If you have the ability to think fast and react appropriately, in challenging and stressful situations, you’re perfectly suited to becoming a paramedic. Lives may depend on your decision-making, meaning that you have to be at your best, all of the time. If you relish a challenge and want to make a real difference, studying paramedic science is a great route for you.

But remember, it’s not all blue lights and speeding ambulances. Much of what a paramedic does is soothe and comfort, both the patient and those around them. You must be calm and collected, and be able to inspire calm in others. These are some of the skills you’ll learn during your degree, but most paramedics build on their natural characteristics. Along with the medical aspect, you’ll learn parts of many other subjects too, including psychology and sociology.

And, if it’s variety you’re looking for, no two days will ever be the same.

From an employment perspective, you’ll have fantastic job prospects with a paramedic science degree. Talented paramedics are always in demand, meaning that you should be able to find a job very easily, with a good grade.

If you choose to work in the NHS, you’re going to be earning around £23k straight out of university. If you continue to progress, and become a consultant paramedic, you can expect to make upwards of £70k.

Some modules you may study are:

  • Developing clinical practice
  • Introduction to bioscience
  • Trauma and advanced life support
  • Diagnosis and clinical decision-making
  • Ambulance placement
  • Acute and critical illness
  • Community placement
  • Evidence-based practice

Will the NHS pay for my paramedic science degree?

The NHS fund or part-fund a number of different medical degrees, and this changes regularly. You should check with your university whether their paramedic science course is funded. 

Entry requirements

A levels – Entry requirements range from BCC to ABB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BBC.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBC to AABBB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring BBBC. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for CCC.

Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.

What can you do with a paramedic science degree?

Most paramedic science graduates will work for the NHS, as a paramedic.

Paramedic science graduates can also, with more study, move into other healthcare fields, the military, or other emergency services, such as:

What’s it like to study paramedic science?

As with a medical degree, but particularly one that has to prepare you for challenging and stressful environments, there’s no surprises that studying paramedic science can be intense. You’ll need to master medicine, while developing resilience for high pressure scenarios, building physical and mental stamina, and working on your bedside manner.

You’ll go through a similar course structure to doctors and nurses, learning how to diagnose and treat a wide variety of injuries and illnesses, before moving into simulated environments and placements to practise in the field. This will include day and night shifts.

Your placements will allow you to see how experienced paramedics cope in the type of situations you will find yourself in. As you gain experience, you’ll join these paramedics as an active shift worker, and treat your own patients under supervision.

During your degree, you can expect the following:

  • writing reports and essays
  • verbal presentations
  • carrying out research projects
  • lectures and seminars
  • laboratory experiments
  • shadowing working paramedics
  • placement paramedic shifts

You should expect to spend around 20 hours per week in the classroom, plus self-study and placement shifts.

Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course on a shorter timescale. 


If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.

Find out more about apprenticeships across the UK.

There are over 60 apprenticeships in the health and science sector available in England, with more in development.

Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.

Higher apprenticeship (Level 4)

Degree apprenticeship (Level 6)

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