This postgraduate learning pathway, validated by UCO and delivered by the Sports Medicine Ultrasound Group (SMUG), develops competent and confident sonographers in diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound. 

SMUG is a leading provider of musculoskeletal ultrasound in the UK and has over ten years’ experience of providing ultrasound education in both the UK and abroad. SMUG’s mission is to provide the highest quality education for clinicians to learn diagnostic ultrasound to ultimately improve clinical decision making and patient care. 

To deliver this comprehensive Postgraduate Certificate, SMUG has teamed up with The University College of Osteopathy (UCO) in London to provide a Postgraduate Certificate in Musculoskeletal Diagnostic Ultrasound.

Over the last decade there has been a considerable increase in the demand and use of ultrasound in the management of musculoskeletal complaints in both the public and private healthcare sectors. Technological advances, accessibility and improved diagnostic capabilities, as well as a growing body of literature in this area, have been key factors involved in this increasing demand and we expect this trend to continue in the coming years. Developing a highly skilled pool of clinicians with the appropriate training and necessary competency is therefore essential to meet this demand.

Whether working within the NHS, private practice or elite sports, this learning pathway has been set up to provide a structured, in-depth and comprehensive training programme for those clinicians looking to add diagnostic ultrasound to their musculoskeletal practice. If you are an Allied Health Professional, doctor, radiologist or sonographer and want to expand your knowledge around musculoskeletal scanning, this Postgraduate Certificate will provide an ideal environment for you to achieve this.

This course is delivered by full-time clinicians and lecturers who work in a variety of locations including the NHS, elite sports and the private sector in musculoskeletal clinics, radiology and sonography departments. You will also benefit from visiting lecturers who have extensive knowledge and expertise in a wide range of areas. This faculty includes sports medicine consultants, physiotherapists and sonographers.

This post graduate programme in MSK Ultrasound has applied for CASE accreditation. Please note to achieve a CASE accredited post graduate certificate your clinical placement must be carried out in the UK or Republic of Ireland.

Key course features

  • Designed for sonographers, osteopaths, GP’s, physiotherapists, podiatrists, radiologists, rheumatologists and sports medicine doctors.
  • Combination of distance learning and contact teaching days, allowing clinicians to combine learning in their workplace with a structured academic learning pathway. 
  • Contact teaching days consist of a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical workshop sessions, including presentations, live demonstrations and supervised hands-on sessions in small groups.
  • Excellent student to tutor ratio for face-to-face and practical workshops to allow close supervision and feedback with typically 1 ultrasound machine to 3 students.
  • Access to a range of cart-based and portable/laptop ultrasound machines for practical sessions. These machines represent the variations available in clinical practice. 
  • Comprehensive teaching resources provided including presentations, videos and virtual learning environment with an extensive ‘article library’ with appropriate research papers and learning resources.
  • Access to a unique multi-disciplinary learning environment with clinicians from a variety of clinical backgrounds and disciplines.
  • Formal teaching components delivered at the University College of Osteopathy in London.

Entry requirements

Typical entry requirements include:

  • A Bachelor's Degree with Honours (or equivalent).
  • A minimum of 3 years’ musculoskeletal experience.
  • Registration with the appropriate professional body.
  • Possession of appropriate indemnity insurance. 
  • Students whose first language is not English should be able to demonstrate fluency in spoken and written English equivalent to an IELTS overall score of 7.0.
  • You are required to have a clinical placement as a prerequisite for acceptance onto this Postgraduate course. Students are expected to complete a minimum of 14 hours of supervised ultrasound scanning per week, in line with the Consortium for Accreditation of Sonographic Education (CASE), for the entire duration of the course
  • You must have an approved Clinical Supervisor to achieve 250 supervised scans (100 assisted, 150 unassisted).  
  • You must have an approved Independent Assessor to examine the Final Clinical Summative Assessment.
  • Both your Clinical Supervisor and Independent Assessor must be approved prior to the commencement of the course.
  • You must have good musculoskeletal anatomical knowledge.
  • You must be able to attend all course dates.

The UCO and SMUG are committed to a policy of inclusion. Students from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, UCO-leavers, mature ‘second career’ applicants and students with a range of seen and unseen disabilities are all warmly welcomed. Every application to study on this course is considered on its own merits.

Additional entry requirements

All students must agree to comply with our Student Terms & Conditions and other Policies and Procedures.

Careers & employability

Upon successful completion of the Postgraduate Certificate in Musculoskeletal Ultrasound, students will obtain 60 HE credits at level 7.

Graduates will be able to show a competency-based award in musculoskeletal ultrasound to employers which will allow them to work as an autonomous musculoskeletal ultrasound sonographer in a range of clinical settings. 

As an Allied Health Professional or doctor, you will be able to incorporate this new modality into your routine clinical assessments. This allows for definitive diagnosis which can reduce the number of clinic visits for patients, reduce inappropriate hospital visits and accelerate the most effective treatment programme. 

As a sonographer or radiologist, you may incorporate musculoskeletal ultrasound  examinations into your clinical skill set. This will increase your scope of practice and range of expertise.

This Postgraduate Certificate programme will ensure you are a confident, independent and conscientious practitioner who can incorporate these new skills seamlessly into your clinical practice, enhancing individual patient care and improving patient outcomes. Completing this course will help to open up new career pathways including further education in ultrasound guided injections.

Course structure & delivery

The course consists of two core units of 30 credits per unit; Unit 1 and Unit 2.

Unit 1: Fundamentals of Musculoskeletal Ultrasound.

Unit 1 is a compulsory unit delivered in person at UCO and consists of a block of three consecutive teaching days followed by a second block of two consecutive teaching days.

This unit aims to develop the practical skills required to carry out a musculoskeletal ultrasound scan with an introduction to scanning normal anatomy around the knee, ankle, foot, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand and hip. It also covers core topics such as the physical properties of ultrasound, including knobology, machine parameters, image optimisation and artefacts. The professional guidelines and issues within ultrasound clinical practice will be covered and applied throughout. 

At the start of this unit, you will be expected to begin your supervised scanning at your clinical placement for a minimum of 14 hours per week with your Clinical Supervisor in line with the Consortium for the Accreditation of Sonographic Education (CASE) standards.

Assessment of Unit 1 is a practical skills assessment (OSCE), short answer questions (SAQs - Online Exam) on professional practice in MSK ultrasound and a multiple-choice question exam (MCQ) on diagnostic ultrasound physics and instrumentation.

Unit 2: Integrating Musculoskeletal Ultrasound into Practice.

Unit 2 is the second compulsory unit delivered in person at UCO and consists of a block of two consecutive teaching days. 

This unit aims to develop advanced ultrasound skills and teaches you to recognise pathology on imaging. We will explore report-writing and consider normal age-related changes on imaging and how this can help you to determine the relevance of your findings. 

A significant emphasis of this unit is on your clinical placement where you will be working towards a final aim of 250 supervised scans (100 assisted and 150 unassisted). Our in-person teaching days will aim to refine your skills, challenge your clinical reasoning and help you reflect on your scanning technique.

Group-based practical workshops, interactive lectures and a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will provide you with extensive resources to help supplement your learning.

Assessment of Unit 2 is an oral Case Study Presentation (online), Logbook, a Final Clinical Summative Assessment and a Clinical Placement Reflective Essay (of 3000 words).

Unit information

More information can be found in the Course Information Form available to download from this page.

Assessment & feedback

The course is assessed through both summative and formative assessments including:

  • Practical skills assessment (OSCE)
  • A professional issues online short answer questions (SAQs) open book format exam and a physics MCQ exam
  • Case study oral presentation
  • Logbook
  • A “Final Clinical Summative Assessment” 
  • A clinical Placement Reflective Essay (3000 words)

More information can be found in the Course Information Form available to download from this page.

Mode of study

Distance learning.

Dates & duration

September start, 1 year distance learning (8 contact teaching days).

For specific course dates please visit the SMUG website.


University College of Osteopathy (UCO)
275 Borough High Street

Award & awarding body

Postgraduate Certificate in Musculoskeletal Ultrasound, The University College of Osteopathy

Professional body accreditation

Consortium for the Accreditation of Sonographic Education (CASE) standards has been applied for.

Facilities & resources

All students have access to the SMUG Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This offers a range of resources to support your learning. These include an extensive collection of articles, presentations and videos. 

Additional self-directed study and learning is required to be undertaken by all students for the duration of the entire course. The content of the self-directed learning is specific to each student, their professional background and their scope of practice. 

Support for students

Throughout your studies you will be supported by the SMUG Course Leaders, tutors and lecturers who are available to discuss any matters, academic, practical or otherwise, that may be affecting your studies. Your Clinical Supervisor will also assist and liaise directly with the SMUG course team to ensure your learning is progressing. 

You will be assigned a Personal Academic Tutor whose core purpose is to support your academic, personal and professional development. This is your individual point of contact. Your Personal Academic Tutor can also direct you to appropriate resources or welfare support services as needed. 

Costs & financial support

For details of course fees please visit the SMUG website

How to apply

To apply please visit the SMUG website.

All potential students need to fill in the application form and await contact from the SMUG Course Leaders who will determine your suitability for the course. 

Please ensure you complete the entire form prior to submitting your application.


Please note that while SMUG makes every effort to run courses as advertised, courses may be subject to change or cancellation if enrolment targets are not met. 

Courses are typically approved for a period of five years from the point of approval to the point of periodic course review. During this period, it may be identified that modifications to the course would enhance its provision. As part of this process, current students will be consulted on any proposed change and current and prospective students shall be notified of any change.