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Foot Health Diploma FAQs

When can I enrol?

There are no set start dates, which means you can enrol anytime throughout the year. During the enrolment process you have the option to select the date you wish to start your course.

Do I have to pay for the course in full?

No, we have various options available. You can choose to enrol and pay for the theory only to begin with and then pay for the clinical training when you are ready to attend. Alternatively you can pay for the full course (theory and clinical elements) with the option of spreading the cost over 12 months with 0% interest.

What are the entry requirements and is there an age limit?

  • To be able to read and write in English.
  • All Students must be 16 years and over (insurance to practise is not available until 18 years, and therefore those attending the clinical training must be aged 18+)
    • Age 21 and under: GCSE: four passes with grade A to E including English Language and preferably a science subject. Key skills level 2 in application of number/numeracy and communication/literacy, unless the applicant has GCSE grade D in Maths and English.
    • Above the age of 21: Applicants must provide us with a copy of their CV. A recent course of study in a science subject (minimum GCSE level) or healthcare (NVQ 2 and above) is an advantage, but not essential as all applications are dealt with individually.
  • All students must agree to a DBS check. This is a legal requirement to protect the vulnerable, children and elderly.
  • This course is only open to UK nationals, EC nationals and those who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK; we do not sponsor student visas.



Do I need to purchase any study materials?

Everything required to complete the Theory element of the course is sent out in the enrolment pack. The enrolment pack includes a Student Book Bag, printed Textbooks, Modules, Student Handbook, Getting started Guide, and details of how to access our e-Journals.

How long will the course take me?

Students have twelve months to successfully complete the theory element. We therefore encourage students to complete on module per month, as this entails a specific topic along with a Portfolio on the content studied. Whilst the the time given to complete the theory aspect is 12 months, one may complete the theory in less time if their circumstances enable them to.

Must I study the course online?

The Theory section of our course can be studied via our dedicated e-learning website or paper-based modules. Our e-Learning website has been specifically designed in such a way that any individual, whether you are confident or not with computers, can log on and study with ease. Whilst paper modules can be provided, some of the assessments must be completed online. 

Students are issued with an IT Manual and the welcome section on the website gives full details on navigating your way around the site. We also have a dedicated IT Department who are on hand to help with any difficulties that students may face while studying online, especially with the Module Assessments, as these can only be taken online and are not available as paper-based.

Do I need to be computer literate?

Basic computer knowledge is required to enable you to complete the theory assessments. The Module Assessments last up to a maximum of 50 minutes and therefore you only require Internet access for around one hour. Many of our students who do not own a PC study the paper-based modules and then borrow a relative’s/friend’s computer to just take the Module Assessment. Some even visit their local library and Internet cafes.

What support is available while studying?

While you are studying with The SMAE Institute you are never alone and are supported in a variety of ways. You can contact us either by telephone, email or letter or you can join in the chat online. We have our Live Tutor Chat which runs 7 days a week (including Bank Holidays) and this allows students to talk directly with a Tutor about any concerns or queries that they have with a particular module or the course in general. There are also Student Forums that allow you to discuss with fellow Students the Module that you are studying. We have a number of Staff Members dedicated to help you should you have any difficulties with the course material or the e-Learning website.

Does each Module need to be completed by a specific date?

You are allocated 40 hours per Module and therefore we ask for one Module to be completed per month. This set time is for guidance only with the aim of keeping students on track with their studies. We understand that students have family and work commitments that may impinge occasionally on their studies so should a situation arise we ask that you keep us informed. This way additional time can be allocated if necessary. Students who are able to devote more hours each week will more than likely take their Assessments earlier than is asked and this is perfectly acceptable. Once you have successfully completed a module, you will be given access to your next module.

How quickly can I access my Modules?

Once your enrolment has been processed you will be sent your course materials, including details on how to log onto the e-learning website. Upon enrolling you will be given the opportunity to select a start date, it will be on this date that you will gain access to your online student account and can begin your studies.  

What is a Portfolio Task?

At the end of each Module there is a portfolio task to complete. A portfolio is an essay between 450 – 550 words and is based on the content of the Module that you have just completed. Full guidance and support is offered with the essay writing as we are aware that some Students have either never written essays before, or if they have it was a while ago. We offer complimentary virtual Student Study Days for new students; these sessions provide support with the writing of the essays and discusses what is required in order to complete them successfully and how to approach them. 

What is Credit Rating?

Credit rating is when a University assesses a course and determines its higher education academic equivalence. Queen Margaret University has credit rated The SMAE Institute’s Foot Health Course at 60 academic credits, at Level 7 of the SCQF. This is equivalent to half of the first year of an undergraduate programme.

What does the clinical training involve?

The Clinical Training consists of 2 weeks “hands-on” practice at The SMAE Institute clinics in Maidenhead, Berkshire. During the training you will see an average of 35 patients per week, and will be graded by the Tutors. You will learn to work as a team and will leave the clinic fully capable of running your own business and with a group of new friends.

You choose the dates you wish to attend the Clinical Training so that you can fit the time away from home around your personal/work commitments. The clinic is open for Clinical Training all year round (including Bank Holidays) except for the two weeks over the Christmas period when we are closed. The clinics at Maidenhead treat over 14,000 patients per year, thus offering a comprehensive range of medical conditions with which our students can develop real ‘hands on’ experience. Patients attending our bespoke
clinic receive their treatment free of charge. Actually seeing, understanding and working with patients is a very important part of our training. The clinical experience is interspersed with lectures, video presentations and patient reviews. There is always individual help available to the student. 

Do I need to purchase anything for the Clinical Training?

Yes. A white coat or tunic to wear while training, as well as the instrument kit which you use in Clinic and then take away with you when you qualify. Full details of the discounted prices are sent out to you when you book your Clinical Training.

Where can I purchase my clinical equipment?

Instruments for use during your Clinical Training, which are yours to keep and take away with you for use once you qualify and start practice may be purchased from our mail order company, Podiacare Healthcare. An order form for the full discounted instrument kit will be sent to you prior to your Clinical Training start date and the Podiacare catalogue will be issued during the Clinical Training should you wish to purchase goods at discounted prices.

How quickly can I complete the course?

The time taken to complete the course will depend on previous knowledge and the amount of time that you have each week to dedicate to studying. Students have a total of 18 Months to complete their course in full (12 months for the theory and 6 months to attend the clinical training), but it can be completed in a quicker timeframe. 

What happens if I do not complete my Theory and Clinical Training on time?

We appreciate that life can throw unexpected delays in our vocational path. All we ask is that you keep us informed of any delays so that we may work with you to get through this period. It is possible to put your studies on hold or to get an agreed extension. Every case is judged on its own merit.

What Qualification do I gain?

Upon qualifying one receives a Diploma in Foot Health (Dip FH), which is credit rated at 60 Higher Education Credits. Once qualified the initials you may use after your name are “Dip FH”.

What support is available after qualifying?

We continue to offer Members full help and support once qualified via phone, email and forums.

Once I am qualified, do you offer Membership and Insurance?

Once qualified you are invited to join the British Association of Foot Health Professionals (BAFHP) where membership includes insurance to practise and also includes a number of extras, such as a copies of our Quarterly Journal and monthly Newsletter throughout the year. Once qualified and insured the initials you may use after your name are “Dip FH, MCFHP MAFHP”.

Overseas students will need to ensure that they can obtain insurance to practice in their home countries after successful completion of their course. They may, however, apply for “Membership Only” which will enable them to use the following initials after their name “Dip FH, MCFHP MAFHP”. The “Membership Only” option is only available to individuals residing overseas and does not include insurance to practice. 

Once I am qualified, must I do any more courses?

You will need to keep yourself up-to-date within the profession with Continual Professional Development (CPD). This can be done by attending one-day workshops, by completing part of our CPD@Home range, which includes a large variety of CD-ROMs, DVDs and online modules or reading profession related Journals.  We also hold 2 major events each year; the Annual Convention and Summer School which students and Members are always welcome to attend, as well as all Members receiving our Monthly Newsletter and copies of our Quarterly Journal throughout the year.

We are delighted to announce that as of September 2021 we now also offer a BSc (Hons) Podiatry Degree Programme, which follows on from our Diploma in Foot Health. If you would like to know more about this 4 year course you can request the brochure from Janet McKane at 

What can I expect to earn from my practice?

The minimum rate you would expect to receive from a 30-minute session is £35. The addition of other skills, such as cryotherapy and the fitting of prescription orthotics to fit inside a shoe, adds considerably to your income. More details of these courses are detailed in our Prospectus.

Is there accommodation at The SMAE Institute?

Although we do not have accommodation on site, we do have a comprehensive list of local establishments offering bed and breakfast at reasonable prices, with many in short walking distance. A list is sent out to all students automatically when they are ready to book their clinical training, but is also available any time on request.

How often do I need to travel to Maidenhead?

All of your theory work you do in the comfort of your own home. You only need to travel to Maidenhead to attend the one-day Medical Emergency Procedures course and the Clinical Training.

Do you advise on how I can market / advertise myself?

One of the lectures during the Clinical Training will cover setting up in business. We also run optional workshops on Business Set-Up for students to attend whilst they are studying, to help give you a head start with your own business. In addition, once you qualify, the Rules and Regulations Guidelines are issued to you offering further advice and information.

"Great course and really pleased I chose the SMAE Institute! Really pleased with the quality of the books we were sent to study from, and the speed at which everything arrived!"


"Even though it is distance learning I feel that you are not far away for help or even a chat. I like the fact that you have photos on the site as it feels like you are talking to real people, which is reassuring!"

– J. Cole

"The Clinical practice has been an amazing experience and the Tutors were fabulous. So, so helpful and everyone wants to see you succeed so it is extremely motivating and uplifting. You will all enjoy!"

– L. Woodward

"I am completely happy with the content and structure of the course and find it fits in well with work as I do shift work so can't always study at a regular time. I feel the support is there when you need it and the feedback you get is excellent."

– Mrs Bee

"I had to make some phone calls and they could not have been nicer or more helpful. The person who answered my queries was very professional and knowledgeable without having to be passed to a different department or person."

– J. Kenna

"When contacting the Institute, I always received excellent support."

– T. Wright

"Online tutor chat is very, very helpful and great due to quick response times."

– L. Hockey

"Really enjoyed the clinical training, everything was very absorbing and interesting. I like the way we were taught because it was organised, comprehensive and easy to follow."

– I. Rowlands

"I attended an open day and enrolled on the same day... I was very impressed with the organisation, all staff were extremely helpful."

– C. Victor

Call our friendly team to book your open day visit 01628 621100