The twenty-first-century office has witnessed a dramatic transformation of working practices brought about by developments in management practice and changes in technology. As a result, the role of the personal assistant (PA) has changed beyond recognition, with the PA becoming a vital lynchpin in organisational life. This has led, in turn, to a demand in both the public and private sectors for highly skilled PAs who understand current management theories and practices and how these can be applied to support, co-ordinate and manage individual managers and/or groups of managers.

The aim of this programme, which is a strategic partnership between Birkbeck and the Global PA Association, is to help meet the demand for highly skilled PAs by developing PAs who possess the range of skills needed to manage, build and promote effective working practices and relationships within organisations. Topics include: the role of the executive personal assistant; 7 key skills for peak performance; understanding organisations; strategy and business planning; leadership and team building; managing change; marketing; financial decisions; and people management and diversity.

This programme is a vital stepping stone for aspiring PAs who wish to develop their careers and move into management positions and/or further their qualifications by studying for a degree (such as Birkbeck's BA in Management or BSc Business).


Course structure

On this course, you will be required to successfully complete modules worth up to 120 credits, made up of six 15-credit modules and one 30-credit module, to be awarded the Certificate of Higher Education in Management for PAs. Applicants are required to enrol on the The Role of the Executive PA module first.

If you successfully complete 60 credits you will also have the option of being awarded a Certificate of Continuing Education in Management for PAs as an exit award should you be unable to complete, for whatever reason, a further 60 credits to achieve the Certificate of Higher Education.

To complete the Certificate of Higher Education, you are required to study 6 compulsory modules, comprising five 15-credit modules and one 30-credit module, making a total of 105 credits, and then select one optional 15-credit module (listed below).


Compulsory modules


Option modules
Global PA Association Series of Masterclasses (30 credits)

30 credits will be awarded for successful completion of the Global PA Advanced Certificate and associated assessment.


The masterclasses, which are a compulsory element of the programme, aim to develop the core skills base of personal assistants to enable them to maximise their potential within the workplace. Topics covered include 7 key skills, effective time management, team working, board-level case study, assertiveness, personal effectiveness, coaching and social media.

The Global PA Association is an external organisation working in partnership with Birkbeck to provide this programme (you will pay fees directly to the Global PA Association for the masterclasses).

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