Postgraduate Diploma in Critical Care

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For healthcare professionals working on the frontline in the fast-paced world of critical care, a systematic understanding of how to manage urgent presentations of life-threatening conditions is essential. A lack of such specialist knowledge can prove fatal.

This newly launched Postgraduate Diploma in Critical Care equips practitioners with advanced knowledge of how to respond to and treat a range of critical conditions including sepsis, poisoning and respiratory failure.

Sepsis alone is one of the highest causes of death globally, currently causing 11 million fatalities around the world each year. To address this figure and several other life-threatening illnesses affecting the population, it is imperative that healthcare professionals working in this field are educated to a high standard.

Studying this Critical Care diploma will equip you with life-long learning and advanced problem solving skills which are directly applicable to practise in critical care scenarios.

PgDip Critical Care

Next intake: September 2024Key Facts

Awarding University
University of Buckingham
Exit Points
12 Months
Class Size
15 - 20
Application Deadline
30th August 2024
Course start date
2nd September 2024 (view full module dates)
100% Online
Total Fees
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Our online Critical Care Diploma enables graduates to provide the rapid diagnosis and referral required in urgent clinical scenarios with certainty. This is a highly rewarding field of medical care to specialise in, offering the ability to significantly improve the quality of patient care and ultimately save lives.

Unlike competitors who emphasise theoretical learning through extensive reading and essay writing, our critical care diploma focuses on practical, clinically-rich scenarios. We offer a multidisciplinary approach, enabling students to apply their knowledge immediately in real-life situations alongside their day jobs.

Our students engage in global discussions and process comparisons with peers from diverse healthcare systems. Our challenge-based learning approach uniquely equips them with a broader understanding of intensive care unit practices worldwide. In addition to improving patient outcomes, this postgraduate qualification will enhance your leadership skills, career progression and increase your employability prospects as you possess high levels of expertise in this important field. Becoming an authority in this specialist knowledge, within a multidisciplinary team, is desirable and achievable on graduation from this programme.

On successful completion of this Diploma in Critical Care, you will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to lead complex tasks and processes in the delivery and advancements of critical care
  • Deliver leadership to teams in multi-agency, multi-cultural and/or international contexts.
  • Gain a systematic knowledge of evidence-based medicine in relation to critical care.
  • Apply relevant knowledge, methodologies and approaches to address patient management across the spectrum of medical specialties caring for patients with critical presentations.
  • Develop the ability to implement best practice and innovation in complex critical care scenarios.


Next intake: September 2024 Key Facts

Awarding University
University of Buckingham
100% Online
Exit Points
12 Months
12 months
Class Size
15 - 20
Application Deadline
30th August 2024
Course start date
2nd September 2024 (view full module dates)
Total Fees

Why Study a Critical Care Postgraduate Diploma with Learna

We have over 10 years’ experience delivering online courses, giving you access to flexible, affordable distance learning in partnership with world-leading educators.


100% Flexible

Our courses are 100% online. No fixed study times mean you can log in and learn whenever and wherever.

Multidisciplinary - study in a group of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.


Expert Led

All of our programmes are authored and developed by world leading experts in their field.

Our faculty are selected due to their subject expertise, experience and teaching abilities to ensure the highest standards of educational excellence.


Career Boosting

Get a University Validated postgraduate qualification in just 1 calendar year instead of 2 academic years.

40% of our alumni reported an increase in salary 2 years after studying with us.

Who is this course for?

Our Critical Care Programmes are designed to meet the needs of a multidisciplinary network of healthcare professionals, including Paramedics, Doctors, Nurses, GPs, Pharmacists and Physicians Associates.

If you are a paramedic seeking career advancement opportunities, critical care is a recognised progression path, which this programme will support.

Perhaps you are a nurse working in an ICU setting, seeking specialisation as an emergency care nurse? This programme will ensure your knowledge of critical care is up to date and prepare you for advanced opportunities.

Global Relevance
Our Critical Care programme serves a global demand, welcoming students internationally and addressing crucial gaps in healthcare systems in regions like Africa and India where specialised skill sets are urgently required.

How Will I Learn?

You will be supported throughout your studies by a committed team of internationally recognised educational experts.

Our courses are conducted through our interactive online learning platform, log in daily whenever and wherever you want. No fixed timetable empowers you to study when it suits you

These usually occur within groups of 10-20 students, allowing you to clearly communicate with both your tutor and fellow students.


Delivered over 1 year, the online, part-time Postgraduate Diploma programme is specially developed for busy health professionals. Formatted in 6 modules, each 6 weeks in duration; the course is designed to be practical and clinically focused.

Module Aims
This module addresses the essential topics in respiratory support, along with related ethical decision-making and communication in critical care settings.

Module Content

  • Fundamentals of respiratory failure
  • Mechanical ventilation modes and strategies
  • Ventilator-associated complications and prevention
  • Weaning and extubation protocols
  • Non-invasive ventilation techniques
  • Management of acute exacerbations of chronic respiratory diseases

Module Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the aetiology, classification and ethical consideration of acute respiratory failure, including the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms that contribute to different respiratory support needs in critical care settings.
  2. Systematically analyse and critically evaluate current research and guidelines related to the aetiology, classification and management of patients requiring respiratory support in the critical care setting.
  3. Apply effective communication and collaborative skills within multidisciplinary teams to optimise respiratory support and ethical management for critically ill patients, demonstrating proficiency in the recognition of patient-centred care, communication of ethical decision making, and promoting of interdisciplinary teamwork.

Module Aims
To equip students with a systematic understanding of sepsis, including the pathophysiology, and the crucial aspects of diagnosis and early management to improve patient outcomes in critical care settings.

Module Content

  • Fundamentals of sepsis
  • Pathophysiology of sepsis
  • Diagnosis and risk stratification in sepsis
  • Management of sepsis: early interventions
  • Antimicrobal therapy in sepsis
  • Fluid resuscitation and haemodynamic support in sepsis

Module Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the aetiology, pathophysiology, and management of sepsis in critical care settings.
  2. Analyse and critically evaluate diagnostic criteria, risk stratification methods, and early management strategies to identify and manage sepsis promptly in a range of clinical settings.
  3. Apply effective communication and collaborative skills within a multidisciplinary team environment to support the implementation of evidence-based interventions that would aim to prevent complications and optimise patient outcomes in sepsis cases.

Module Aims
To provide a comprehensive exploration of the delivery of cardiovascular support in critical care settings, and also the pathophysiology and management of heart failure, to include related ethical decision-making and discussions.

Module Content
This module will explore cardiovascular monitoring techniques, some of the most common invasive methods and the use of vasoactive agents and mechanical circulatory support devices, to optimise patient outcomes in high-acuity situations. Topics will include:

  • Pathophysiology of heart failure
  • Clinical presentation and diagnostic evaluation
  • Pharmacological management of heart failure
  • Cardiovascular monitoring
  • Advanced cardiovascular support devices
  • Multidisciplinary approach to heart failure management, including ethical decisions

Module Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the pathophysiology and clinical manifestations of heart failure and other cardiovascular issues in patients in need of critical care.
  2. Critically evaluate current research and guidelines relating to the pathophysiology, presentation and management of patients in critical care requiring cardiovascular support.
  3. Apply effective communication and collaboration skills within multidisciplinary teams to coordinate cardiovascular support and heart failure management for critically ill patients, ensuring an ethical, patient-centred approach aimed at improved outcomes.

Module Aims
To address various aspects of post-surgery critical care management, whilst also exploring gastrointestinal considerations and infection prevention to ensure comprehensive care for surgical patients during their critical recovery period.

Module Content

  • Principles of post-surgery critical care
  • Respiratory management following surgery
  • Cardiovascular management following surgery
  • Pain management and early mobilisation
  • Gastrointestinal considerations in post-surgery patients
  • Wound care and infection prevention in the post surgery period

Module Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the principles of postoperative critical care management, including recognition and management of common complications.
  2. Develop an ability to critically evaluate and analyse the current evidence and strategies for optimising respiratory and cardiovascular function in the postoperative period.
  3. Apply the knowledge acquired to synthesise a multidisciplinary approach to post-surgery management and rehabilitation to enhance patients' critical recovery and functional outcomes.

Module Aims
To develop a critical knowledge and understanding of non-traumatic injuries, along with the appropriate assessment and management of traumatic head injuries, in a range of presentations that would require critical care interventions and ethical decision-making in complex scenarios.

Module Content

  • Overview of non-traumatic head injuries, including subarachnoid haemorrhage
  • Management of non-traumatic head injuries
  • Traumatic head injuries: overview and assessment
  • Acute management of traumatic brain injuries
  • Rehabilitation and recovery after head injuries
  • Ethical considerations in head injury management

Module Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the pathophysiology, clinical presentations, diagnosis and management of head injuries.
  2. Analyse and critically evaluate the management approaches for head injuries, including the application of evidence-based guidelines to make informed decisions.
  3. Synthesise the evidence to deliver diagnostic and management strategies in critical care settings relating to non-traumatic and traumatic head injuries.

Module Aims
To equip healthcare professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills to make ethically sound decisions and communicate effectively with colleagues and patients, whilst upholding principles of patient autonomy, beneficence and justice. Workforce wellbeing, at a multidisciplinary level, is explored, giving students and opportunity to recognise and develop support for the team and for individual colleagues, when working in a variety of intensive and traumatic scenarios.

Module Content

  • Ethical considerations in critical care
  • Legal framework: informed consent and patient rights
  • Multidisciplinary collaboration, communication and workforce wellbeing within trauma and intensive care settings
  • Ethical issues in organ support and allocation
  • Principles of critical care rehabilitation
  • Psychosocial aspects of critical care rehabilitation

Module Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a critical and systematic knowledge of complex and ethical dilemmas in critical care to make informed and ethically sound decisions.
  2. Critically evaluate the evidence and guidance relating to ethical and legal frameworks within critical care.
  3. Develop advanced skills and effectively apply ethical and legal principles in decision-making in critical care settings.

Assessment Methods

This Postgraduate Diploma in Critical Care places assessments at the heart of the learning process through the employment of clinical scenarios to enhance problem-solving, critical analysis and evidence-based care. Since the scenarios act as a focus for learning and assessment, the two are intrinsically linked.

The six modules on the course have the same assessment format and for all modules, you will be assigned a dedicated expert tutor. Your tutor will then facilitate case discussions with the group, whilst monitoring, assessing and marking your work throughout.

Due to the online nature of the course, you will be expected to regularly login and participate in the course - ideally on a daily basis. Students are recommended to spend around two hours per day on their studies.

  • Every week students are presented with two/three clinical case-based scenarios that are reflective of every day clinical practice and research.
  • Tutors will post a number of questions and prompts to aid students in a formal discussion of each case.
  • These discussions are facilitated throughout by your tutor and are then assessed at the end of every module.

The online reflective journal is a learning portfolio that requires students to record and critically reflect on their learning. Reflection is an important aspect of the programme since the professionals will be able to spend time considering how their practice compares to the themes being discussed in the module. The tutor provides feedback to the student weekly and marks it at the end of the module. Reflective practice is a requirement for healthcare professionals for professional re-validation and professional development.

This can be either a Group Activity or an Individual Activity:
Group activity
Designed to stimulate and test the students’ ability to work as a team in taking the subject area forward. A group task is set, the group elects a leader using the online forum and the leader allocates tasks to group members. The leader is responsible for managing, collating and submitting the activity (online) at the end of the module. The tutor provides formative guidance part way through the module and marks the assessment at the end.
Individual activity
Designed to stimulate and demonstrate personalised learning, creativity and problem solving with application to each student’s own practice area.
Examples of individual activities might include either a written assignment, developing an academic poster presentation, a blog or social media project.

All students must complete the same assignment for each module which is pre-determined by the Programme Leader before the modules commence.

  • Case problems in the form of a one-hour timed examination with multiple-choice questions directly test the reasoning and knowledge objectives of the module.
  • The online exam is marked automatically.
  • The examination tests related theory and problem-solving skills.

Entry requirements

Since our Diploma in Critical Care is conducted entirely online, it is accessible to both UK and international registered healthcare professionals.

Applicants will typically hold a first degree or equivalent (including international qualifications) in a relevant professional healthcare field, such as a medical or nursing degree.

Registered healthcare professionals without these recognised qualifications will be considered for the critical care programmes on an individual basis and a wide range of prior experience may be taken into account. In some cases, applicants may be asked to submit a piece of work for assessment in order to confirm that they are able to work comfortably at postgraduate level, and demonstrate the requisite clinical and professional knowledge.

Documents Required

  • A copy of your updated CV including your address and date of birth.
  • A copy of your undergraduate degree certificate.
  • The name and email address of someone who is able to provide a reference, this can be a work colleague, employer or former tutor.
  • A detailed personal statement explaining why you would like to undertake the course.
  • A copy of your proof of English competency (see below).

English Language Requirements
Proficiency in the English language is also essential to completing our courses. If English is NOT your first language, we ask for proof of competency during the application process. We are able to accept an IELTS (with an overall score of 6.5 and a minimum of 6.0 for each band) or an equivalent qualification.

If you do not meet these requirements, please don’t worry. You can also contact our admissions team on for more information on the qualifications we accept.

Course Fees

Total Course Fees for UK & International Students for September 2024:
Application deadline - TBC

Option 1: Upfront Payment in full. Option 2: Interest free payments every other month for the duration of the course.

DateInstalmentsUp-Front Payments
1st November 2024£750
1st January 2025£750
1st March 2025£750
1st May 2025£750
1st July 2025£750

† Deposits are non-refundable

†† Prices are subject to review following each intake

Option 3: Lower your monthly payments by spreading the cost for between 2 and 8 years with a loan from our lending partner Lendwise*.

*Subject to eligibility criteria.


Learna | Diploma MSc has a partnership with Lendwise which is a leading private student loan provider, to help UK students fund their course fees should they require financing. Lendwise is a UK-based education finance platform through which candidates can fund their postgraduate and professional qualification studies at leading educational institutions.

A Lendwise loan comes with a fixed interest rate for the duration of the loan (between 2 and 8 years) and no early repayment penalties. The interest rate offered will depend on the overall applicant profile and the application process is entirely online.*

*Other sources of funding are available.
Learna | Diploma MSc does not offer financial advice, recommend or endorse any financial product. You should always check the suitability of the product that is of interest to you. If you are in any doubt as to its suitability, we suggest that you seek independent professional advice.

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Why Learna

We have over 10 years’ experience delivering online diploma courses, giving you access to flexible, affordable distance learning in partnership with world-leading educators.

Our courses are some of the most affordable of their kind, providing value for money without compromising on quality. We also don't apply an international surcharge. No fixed timetable means you can log in & learn on the go, at your convenience.

Being totally online means we can select the very best tutors and resource editors, no matter where they’re located.

Connect with multidisciplinary people around the world to expand your insights & broaden your career prospects.

Our programmes produce 90% fewer emissions than campus-based learning.

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