Diploma in Practical Dermatology

The course leading to the Diploma in Practical Dermatology is designed specifically for general practitioners who wish to gain expertise in the practical management of patients with skin disease. This is a highly interactive online programme designed to equip the general practitioner with a sound knowledge of skin disease as it presents in practice and sufficient knowledge to competently and correctly manage the vast majority of problems relating to the skin at a primary care level. Practical general practice dermatology is taught and not hospital based dermatology.

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The programme has been completely revamped and now delivers high level dermatological teaching covering all subject areas of interest to those in general practice. 30 weekly modules have been written by leading UK dermatologists and provide up to date clinical information with relevant treatment and referral guidelines for the common skin conditions seen in practice. The course is delivered via our website allowing regular, rapid and efficient communication between colleagues, tutors and course administrators, reducing the isolation commonly associated with distance learning.

Through dedicated online tutorial support, discussion forums and online assessments, course participants become members of an enthusiastic and supportive online community of doctors with an interest in Dermatology. This environment allows collaboration, both academic and clinical, which extends beyond the life of the programme.

Sister Helen Pugsley teaching at a study meeting in Hong Kong
Making correct management decisions for patients with skin disease can be quite challenging for those in general practice. The Diploma in Practical Dermatology course provides a detailed structured programme of learning. The course is divided into three main semesters and commences each year in September, with the final examinations being held in Cardiff during the following June.

Aims of the Programme

  1. To provide course participants with a basic understanding of primary care clinical dermatology.

  2. To enable GPs to successfully manage dermatological problems in patients presenting to their surgeries.

Course Delivery

We have an area of our website completely dedicated to the Diploma in Practical Dermatology course. It is a course requirement that course members have access to a computer which is connected to the internet. At the start of the course, participants are issued with a user name and password which allows them to access the secure area, available exclusively to course administrators and course participants. Another important reason for using the website is to participate in discussion forums created by course participants on topics of academic or general interest. There is also the opportunity to communicate with other course members in online chat rooms.

Module Topic Areas Include:

  • Assessment of Dermatological Skin
  • Acne
  • Atopic Eczema
  • Cryosurgery
  • The Elderly
  • Flexural Rashes
  • The Infant Skin
  • Leg Ulcers
  • Pigmentary Disorders
  • Bullous Disorders
  • Psoriasis
  • Sex and the Skin
  • Skin Surgery
  • Systemic Disease and the Skin
  • Urticaria
  • HIV and the Skin
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Drug Eruptions
  • Facial Rashes
  • Hair Problems
  • Nail Problems
  • Insects and the Skin
  • The Pregnant Patient
  • Infections of the Skin
  • Skin Cancer - Pigmented Lesions and Melanoma
  • Skin Cancer - Non-Melanoma
  • Sun and the Skin - Photodermatoses
  • Topical Therapy
  • Tropical Skin Disease

Course Structure

There are several different integrated aspects to the course structure;

Each Week:

  1. The educational material is made available online.
  2. Course participants are given study aims and objectives to help meet specified learning outcomes.
  3. There are Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) to be completed online on that week's subject.

The in-course assessment consists of:

  1. Written work (four pieces throughout the course). This may be a scenario, practice guideline, patient handout or an essay question of 1500 words.

  2. One synchronised online tutorial with a dermatologist per semester. Course members are informed of the discussion point one week before the meeting.

  3. One case history uploaded per semester. Course participants are asked to select three patients from their own practice to be studied in detail and written up as case histories, one in each semester.

  4. Regular participation on forum boards.

  5. Each semester there is one online group assignment (Med-e-Conference).

During the course:

  • For UK based students, there are two one day intensive study meetings.
  • There is a two day intensive study meeting held in Hong Kong during the first semester for international students.

Course Assessment

The Diploma in Practical Dermatology is only awarded by the Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff University to doctors who have demonstrated regular detailed study throughout the course and who reach a high standard of knowledge, understanding and practical clinical expertise. A commitment to regular daily study at home is required. An estimated 10 hours of study weekly during each semester is considered to be the minimum necessary.

There is a final examination which is held in Cardiff, usually in June. All students who reach a satisfactory level in the continual assessment are eligible to take the examinations at the end of the course. The examinations must be passed separately for the Diploma to be awarded. The exam consists of an hour long structured clinical photograph examination and an OSCE style examination with short clinical cases and practical clinical questions.


The Diploma in Practical Dermatology is approved by t he Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Quality Assurance and Continuing Professional Development Program for the 2005-2007 triennium with 90 (category 1) total points. The course is endorsed by the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee with category 5.4: 50 CME points on completion of the course. It is also approved by the CME Accreditation Sub-Committee of the Association of the Hong Kong Medical Association with 50 CME points on completion of the course. In addition the DPD has now obtained quotable status in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Course Team

The team includes Professor A Y Finlay (Head of Department) Dr Maria Gonzalez (Senior Clinical Lecturer and Postgraduate Courses Director), Sister Helen Pugsley, (Lecturer and DPD Course Director) and four Postgraduate Course Co-ordinators.

There is a Diploma in Practical Dermatology Faculty, members of which give advice concerning the course. The Board consists of dermatologists and general practitioners from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. A team of tutors and examiners based in the UK provide expertise in assessing and providing feedback concerning the regular assessed work.

Entry Requirements

The course is open to all doctors who are currently working as general practitioners or clinical assistants in dermatology. Course participants must see dermatology patients in their work place or be able to show how they will follow up patients, in order to complete the case histories. No previous specific experience or training in dermatology is necessary. Good English language skills are essential and it is a course requirement that participants have access to a computer which is connected to the internet. Applicants must be able to travel to Cardiff for the final examination.

Course Fees

The fee for each semester of the course commencing in September 2008 will be 1165: the total course fee is therefore 3495 (subject to final confirmation). There are no additional registration fees for the Study Meeting, or the final examination. For non UK students there is an optional pre-exam course for which there is a small charge. Once a doctor is accepted on the course, the first semester fee (one third of the total fees) is then payable immediately to confirm acceptance of the place on the course. The full fee for each subsequent semester must be paid before the start of each semester.

How to Apply

If you wish to be considered for entry on to the Diploma in Practical Dermatology course commencing in September 2008, you may either print off the application forms from this website or contact the department to request an application pack. Please note there are a limited number of places on this course, therefore early application is strongly encouraged.

To request an application pack or for further information on courses, please contact;

Mr David Taylor
Postgraduate Courses Co-ordinator
Department of Dermatology
Cardiff University
3rd Floor Welsh Institute of Dermatology
Heath Park.
Cardiff   CF14 4XN
Wales,  U.K.

Tel: 029 2074 2247 (International +44 29 2074 2247)
Fax: 029 2074 4312 (International +44 29 2074 4312)
E-mail : dermpostgrad@cardiff.ac.uk