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Management for Personal Assistants (Certificate of Higher Education)

The twenty-first-century office is witnessing a dramatic transformation, brought about by rapid changes in working practices, organisational life, management and technology. As a result, the role of the personal assistant (PA) is constantly evolving, with the PA operating as a vital lynchpin in organisational life. This has led to demand, in both the public and private sectors, for highly skilled PAs, who understand cutting-edge management ideas and practices and who can apply them in order to support, coordinate and manage individual managers and groups of managers. 

This Certificate of Higher Education is a strategic partnership between Birkbeck and the Global PA Association, which combines professional and academic training to help you develop as a highly skilled PA. You will study modules at Birbeck and undertake a masterclass run by the Global PA Association. We will help you understand the changing role of the executive PA and develop the range of key skills you need to manage, build and promote effective working practices and relationships within organisations.

You will learn about the inner workings of organisations: how they operate, their structure and culture, and the behaviour of individuals and groups within them. You will also learn about strategy, planning, people and change management and how to thrive and succeed in demanding, constantly changing environments. This course is an ideal step up for aspiring PAs who are developing their careers and moving into management positions. 

You can take modules as stand-alone short courses, or you can complete the whole certificate and use it as a route into undergraduate study: you can progress onto our BA Management, BSc Business, or other undergraduate degrees. 


    • Based in the School of Business, Economics and Informatics, the Department of Management is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in teaching, research and consultancy in the broad field of management. Our academic staff are active researchers as well as enthusiastic teachers, and regularly publish cutting-edge articles in the world's leading journals. 
    • We combine the academic strengths and international reputation of a major graduate school in one of the UK's top universities with the practical benefits of evening teaching in central London and Stratford. 
    • We have particular research strengths in international business and strategy, the management of innovation and entrepreneurship, human resource management, corporate governance, sport management and marketing, as well as financial management and accounting.
    • You will have access to Moodle, our online learning resource, where all information and materials relating to your programme of study and modules are available, as well as the Birkbeck Library and e-Library.
    • We offer a range of student support services.

    Progression to degrees at Birkbeck

    On successful completion of this Certificate of Higher Education, you can progress onto Birkbeck's BA ManagementBSc Business or other undergraduate degrees. You will need to complete any first-year modules on your degree that are not covered by this certificate. 

    Course structure

    All modules on this certificate can be studied as stand-alone short courses.

    To complete the Certificate of Higher Education in Management for Personal Assistants, you have to complete six compulsory modules: five 15-credit modules at Birkbeck and the Global PA Association's 30-credit module, making a total of 105 credits. You then select one 15-credit option module at Birkbeck, bringing your total number of credits to 120. 

    After successfully completing 60 credits, you can choose to exit the course with a Certificate of Continuing Education in Management for Personal Assistants, or you can go on and complete the further 60 credits required to achieve the Certificate of Higher Education. 


    A compulsory element of this course is the Global PA Association's 30-credit module, The Seven Key Skills of Twenty-First-Century PAs. These masterclasses develop the core skills PAs need to maximise their potential. Topics covered include effective time management, team working, board-level case studies, assertiveness, personal effectiveness, coaching and social media. 

    There are three sessions: 

    • The Strategic Business Support PA 
    • The Assertive and Influential PA 
    • The Emotionally Intelligent PA

    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.


    Module groups

    • Entry Requirements

      Entry requirements

      There are no formal entry requirements. You must have work experience in a responsible position, a strong interest in the subject and a willingness to commit to the goals of lifelong learning and personal development.

      All modules are taught at first-year university level and you should be able to read, write and speak English fluently. If you need help, we offer a range of academic English and language development modules

      Visa requirements

      If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

      The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

      • Courses of more than six months' duration.
      • Courses of less than six months' duration.
      • Pre-sessional English language courses.

      International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

      For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    • Fees


      Fees are payable per module and vary depending on the course. Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see the fees for each module. The overall cost of the certificate will depend on the modules you choose. 

      You pay fees directly to the Global PA Association for attendance at the masterclasses. 

      Please note: if you intend to study this certificate part-time and fund your studies via a student loan, this may affect your entitlement for future full-time funding. Find out more about funding your studies with a student loan.

    • Teaching and assessment


      A series of lectures and practical workshops. Learning from organisational experience and private study forms an important part of the learning process. You are expected to attend at least 75% of classes.


      Modules 1-8: normally 100% coursework, which may take the form of written assignments, in-class tests and individual or group presentations.

      Mathematics for Business: written examination and an assignment.

      30 credits will be awarded for successful completion of the Global PA Association series of masterclasses and associated assessment.

    • Careers and employability

      Careers and employability

      Graduates can pursue careers as executive personal assistants, working in management, local and national government, business or industry. 

      We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

    • How to apply

      How to apply

      This is a modular enrolment certificate, so you will need to enrol onto individual modules (rather than onto the entire programme of study). Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see class dates and times and to enrol. 

      You must enrol on The Role of the Executive PA module first.