This postgraduate learning pathway, validated by UCO and run by the Sports Medicine Ultrasound Group (SMUG), develops competent and confident sonographers in musculoskeletal and sports medicine. It is ideally suited to health care practitioners who wish to add musculoskeletal ultrasound to their clinical practice. 

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. 

The SMUG team have been teaching postgraduate ultrasound courses for many years and are the leading provider of musculoskeletal ultrasound in the UK and abroad.

Within this one-year course you will learn to produce high quality images safely and competently; recognise and differentiate normal anatomy and pathology; create accurate and appropriately detailed reports; consider ultrasound images in combination with clinical presentation/context to diagnose common abnormalities and inform clinical decision making; and determine potential interventions, including recognising when a referral for a second opinion is indicated. You will also critically analyse the principles and current literature regarding musculoskeletal ultrasound. 

Key course features

  • Designed for orthopaedic surgeons, osteopaths, physiotherapists, podiatrists, radiologists, chiropractors, rheumatologists, sonographers and sports medicine doctors.
  • Combination of distance learning and eight contact teaching days allowing clinicians to combine learning in their workplace with a structured 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 lecturers ratio for face-to-face and practical workshops to allow close supervision and feedback.
  • Access to a high-specification GE Healthcare machine for practical sessions.
  • Comprehensive teaching resources provided including presentations, videos and a shared drive 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.

Entry requirements

Typical entry requirements include:

  • A Bachelor's Degree with Honours (or equivalent).
  • 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.

The UCO and SMUG committed to a policy of inclusion, actively seeking to widen participation and to increase opportunities for high-calibre students with the aptitude and potential to undertake a degree in osteopathy. 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

You must have adequate access to an ultrasound machine, appropriate patients and a clinical supervisor for Unit 2. 

All students will be required to complete an enhanced DBS registration check at the point of registration in line with the UCO’s Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) Policy & Procedure (found on our Policies, Procedures and Privacy page).

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

Careers & employability

Graduates who complete this course will be sufficiently confident and competent to apply their musculoskeletal ultrasound skills.

The course will provide students with all the required clinical skills and knowledge to practice as a musculoskeletal sonographer. The course is dedicated to producing confident, independent and conscientious practitioners as well as proving the highest academic and clinical standards.

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: Principles of Science, instrumentation and upper limb and lower limb application.

Unit 1 is delivered in person at UCO and consists of a block of three consecutive days followed by a second block of two consecutive days. It covers the background physics and theory in relation to musculoskeletal ultrasound including safety, knobology, image optimisation and artefacts; and an introduction to scanning the knee ankle/foot, shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand and hip as well as common pathology in these regions. Assessment of Unit 1 is a written case study (3000 words), a practical skills assessment (OSCE) and an online MCQ exam.

Unit 2 – Musculoskeletal Ultrasound in Clinical Practice

Unit 2 is focused on the clinical application of the skills and knowledge gained in Unit 1 and is delivered as a 2-day teaching block plus work-based learning. You will cover advanced ultrasound skills and explore pathology and report writing. All students are required to engage with mentored practise to provide experience in a clinical setting, during which you must carry out 250 scans, 100 supervised by the clinical supervisor and 150 unsupervised. Students will also complete an Audit essay (3000 words) to reflect on the unsupervised scans.

A detailed overview of the course structure and unit content can be found in the Course Information Form available to download from this page.

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:

  • a case report
  • an audit essay
  • practical skills assessment (OSCE)
  • logbook
  • online MCQ

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


University College of Osteopathy (UCO)
275 Borough High Street

Award & awarding body

Postgraduate Certificate in Musculoskeletal Ultrasound, University College of Osteopathy

Professional body accreditation


Facilities & resources

Delegates have access to a variety of resources to support their learning. These include an extensive collection of articles, presentations and videos. 

Support for students

Throughout your studies you will be supported by the Course Leader and lecturers who are available to discuss any matters, academic, practical or otherwise, that may be affecting your studies. 

Some students attend the SMUG Mentorship Programme alongside the course to benefit from the close supervision and tutor guidance this provides. This enables students to  practise scanning real patients with pathology in our patient clinic, and to achieve more supervised scans. The Mentorship Programme is run over 6 months -  find out more on the SMUG website

Costs & financial support

For details of course fees please visit the SMUG website

How to apply

To apply please visit the SMUG website.


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 a course would enhance the provision. As part of this process current students shall be consulted on any proposed change and current and prospective students shall be notified of any change.