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Postgraduate study

Course overview

Mental health nursing involves the care of people experiencing mental health problems and their families. As a mental health nurse you become an important member of a multi-professional team working in partnership with adults and children experiencing mental health problems, and their families and carers with a range of complex needs.

From September 2020 all new and continuing students on this course will receive a £5,000 maintenance grant each year if they’re eligible. They will not need to pay it back.Full details hereAs a mental health nurse you are in a unique and privileged position. You play a key role in assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating the wide-ranging care needs of people experiencing mental health problems and their families. This requires hard work, commitment and excellent interpersonal skills.

If you are a motivated graduate with healthcare experience, this course gives you an exciting opportunity to work towards professional registration within two years, and prepares you for a fulfilling and successful career in mental health nursing.During the course you develop the essential knowledge and mental health nursing skills required to care for people and their families in a variety of diverse mental healthcare settings including hospital and community care. During these placements you are required to participate in shift working to include weekends and night duties.This innovative course prepares you to be a confident and competent skilled practitioner and, ultimately, demonstrate your ability to lead and manage the care of individuals and their families. This course develops resilient and future-ready nurses who hold strong professional values, are able to exercise clinical judgement, challenge inequality, champion diversity and uphold the integrity of the profession whilst delivering high-quality, person-centred compassionate care.The course content reflects the changing and challenging nature of providing healthcare in the 21st century and the evolving and diverse role of the registered nurse. Leadership is embedded over two years of the course, recognising the crucial role nurses play in moving practice forward. You study this course full-time with two years of university-based theory, self-directed study and practice placements leading to the award of 180 credits at master’s degree level. The course places a strong focus on you working with students from the child, adult and learning disability fields of nursing to engage in shared learning through experience. In the new nursing curriculum, there is increased emphasis on cognitive and mental health issues impacting on physical health - and vice versa - and the essential need to consider biological, psychological and social care across the age continuum, bridging the existing gaps between healthcare services.Pre-registration nursing courses are typically three years, so in order to join this two-year master's degree, you need to apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). You must produce a portfolio of evidence which confirms that you have a minimum of 500 hours of appropriate healthcare experience, either paid or voluntary. Further details about RPL, including guidance on the development of your portfolio, is sent to you upon successful completion of an interview.During the course you develop the essential knowledge and nursing skills required to care for people and their families in a variety of diverse settings, including hospital and community care. During these placements you participate in shift work, including weekends and nights.

Professional accreditation

After successfully completing this course you are eligible to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council on the nurses' part of the Professional Register (Mental Health Nursing).

During this course you are expected to work to the spirit of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Code (2018) at all times - the Code (2018) Professional Standards of Practice and Behaviour for Nurses and Midwives, Nursing and Midwifery Council London

Please note that 100% attendance is expected during this course.


Supporting information for applicants

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Course details

Course structure

Core modules

A Partnership in Care – Valuing the Experts by Experience

This core module embeds the importance of the experiences of others and professional values in nursing practice. You learn alongside master’s students from other areas of nursing.

Biopsychosocial Assessment and Decision Making in Mental Health Nursing

This module builds on the skills and knowledge that you have developed in Year 2. It enables you to further develop the complexity of your clinical decision-making skills across the age continuum. It helps develop your skills and knowledge to assess and manage a caseload, lead teams and deliver care for adults, their families and carers in a range of settings.

Contemporary Public Health in Nursing Practice

You gain the knowledge, skills and understanding of the nurse’s role in health improvement locally, nationally and globally. Learning alongside master’s students from other areas of nursing, you explore current public health legislation and policies which impact on health and wellbeing, emphasising inequalities in health.

Developing a Skilled and Compassionate Mental Health Nurse

This module runs across the academic year and helps develop your nursing skills. It integrates theory gained in the other modules into practice and prepares you for placement.

Leading Innovative Evidence-Based Nursing

Utilising clinical and research related knowledge, you identify a question to research, find an evidence-based solution, and demonstrate the leadership skills that are required to make a successful sustainable change in practice.

The Integrated Evidence-based Decision Making in Mental Health Nursing

This module introduces you to evidence-based integrated decision-making theories and their application to mental health nursing practice in a variety of settings within the context of healthcare.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

The workload is demanding and requires you to be a highly motivated, engaged and self-directed learner. You spend 50% of your time studying the theory, while the other 50% is spent in practice placements. 

The course uses a blended learning approach. You get involved in face-to-face learning within university and open distance learning in an environment conducive to your individual learning style. Self-directed study in each module allows you to advance your knowledge, prepare for and reflect upon theory and practice and consolidate your learning. Learning activities within theory hours include lectures, discussions, group activities, seminar presentations, tutorials, skills workshops, experiential learning/simulations, service user-focused activities and e-learning. Some learning is shared with the BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies course. Digital competency and learning through digital-based platforms are an important component of this course. 

The teaching week during study blocks is Monday to Friday and may involve some evening sessions. During practice allocations you are required to complete the shift patterns allocated to you by your assessor or supervisor. These include early starts (for example, a shift may start at 7.00am and finish at 8.00pm), night duty and weekend shifts including bank holidays. Practice placements are provided in a range of healthcare-related environments including hospital and community settings. These include experiences with community nursing teams, acute medical and surgical wards, immediate and urgent/complex care environments such as intensive therapy units, accident and emergency. This enables you to explore people-centred care and the nursing and healthcare needs of people with acute and long term conditions. Throughout your placement allocations you have opportunities to gain experience with client groups from other fields of nursing (mental health, learning disabilities and child nursing) to enable you to develop an understanding of the health and nursing needs of people across all fields of practice. 

The structure and sequencing of university and placement-based learning means that holidays are fixed – it is not possible to take holidays outside of the set dates. The assessment schedule takes account of placement allocations and study weeks to support time for reflection on practice and preparation for submitting assessments, while providing opportunities for reassessment prior to the end of each year of the course. 

You are taught by senior lecturers, specialist practitioners, guest lecturers from practice and ‘experts by experience’. You are assigned a personal tutor during course induction who provides pastoral support and guidance throughout the course. In addition, the personal tutor monitors your attendance, academic progress and assists you with any difficulties, signposting to other services within the university as and when appropriate. They also provide references for employment at the end of the course.

How you are assessed

A variety of assessment methods consider different learning styles including written assignments, presentations and timed exams. The assessments help you develop the transferable skills sought by managers within the NHS such as delivering presentations, developing a business case, designing and defending posters and action plans, being able to engage in personal reflection and write for publication. 

You demonstrate that you have achieved your practice learning outcomes by completing a Practice Assessment Document. This document is mapped against the NMC Standards for Pre-registration Nursing (2018) and recognises the importance of skill development and knowledge in practice. 

Essential proficiencies must be met for this course - they include:

  • numerical calculations in relation to drug administration
  • physical and manual dexterity to undertake clinical skills
  • your observational and auditory ability to carry out holistic practical examinations and emergency care
  • an accurate interpretation of assessment data and written records, such as drug prescription charts and treatment plans, to inform clinical decision making
  • keeping accurate and legible records.

Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia.


Entry requirements

You must meet the course academic entry requirements and be highly motivated towards a career in mental health nursing, demonstrate a good insight into the nurse’s role within the health and social care arena, and have excellent communication skills. 

Pre-registration nursing courses are typically three years, so in order to join this two-year master’s degree, you need to apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). You must produce a portfolio of evidence which confirms that you have a minimum of 500 hours of appropriate healthcare experience, either paid or voluntary. Further details about RPL, including guidance on the development of your portfolio, is sent to you upon successful completion of an interview.

You are also expected to have:

  • a minimum of two GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above including English language and maths. Key Skills/Functional Skills Level 2 in Communication and Application of Number can be accepted in place of GCSEs
  • a degree with a 2:2 classification or above within the last five years.

If you have completed a degree longer than five years ago, you need to demonstrate you have maintained academic capability and evidence this through alternative means or within your RPL portfolio of evidence.

Shortlisting criteria

Your application is measured against the following criteria:

  • your ability to complete all sections of the application form fully and correctly
  • the level of all qualifications and grades are specified
  • appropriate academic entry requirements achieved or working towards qualifications
  • personal statement supportive of chosen course and demonstrates an understanding of the uniqueness of the profession and the role of the professional
  • satisfactory appropriate supportive references (academic/employer/character).

If you are invited to interview and the date is not suitable, we may not be able to offer you an alternative date due to the high volume of applications received for this course – but it is important that you contact the admissions office immediately.

Interview criteria

A mini multiple interview process is used as part of the selection process. This involves you moving through a series of interview stations. At each station you explore a different scenario and are measured against the six Cs and the following criteria which has been mapped against the NHS Constitution:

  • knowledge of chosen profession/career
  • an appreciation of the demands of the course and chosen profession
  • enthusiasm for the course/profession
  • ability to communicate effectively both verbally and non-verbally
  • a future plan for the specialism.

If you are successful in both shortlisting and interview you receive a conditional offer which is subject to the following:

  • evidence of achievement of the required academic qualifications
  • submission of a portfolio evidencing the Recognition for Prior Learning criteria – achievement of Year 1 learning outcomes and 500 hours of working (paid or voluntary) in a healthcare environment
  • a successful work-based risk assessment which reflects the appropriate HEOPS recommendations
  • a satisfactory Enhanced DBS disclosure – please note that any warnings, cautions, allegations or convictions received may have implications for your continued offer on the course
  • satisfactory references.

Please note until 1 to 5 have been successfully completed the offer of a place on the course remains conditional.

International applicants

  • International applicants must have a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 in reading, listening and speaking (or equivalent) in line with the University English language policy that equates to overall IELTS 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in writing before an unconditional offer is made.
  • If you are successful at shortlisting you are invited to attend an interview (which may be in person or video call) in one of our international offices in either India, Malaysia or China, or through a secure web link (which will be arranged by the University).

If you can’t attend an interview as stated, you will be unable to proceed with your application.

For additional information please see our entry requirements

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country



Career opportunities

A diverse range of career opportunities are available within the NHS and private sectors in the UK and overseas. This course provides a stepping stone from which you can develop your expertise. You have the opportunity to explore future career and academic development opportunities including becoming an NMC professional registrant, plus possible progression to becoming a non-medical prescriber, an advanced practitioner, alumni member or graduate researcher. Progression to doctoral studies may also be considered on completing this course. 

The current employability rate is excellent for nursing graduates. To gain a higher grade and leadership posts within the nursing profession, registrants are required to be qualified to master’s level. This course enables you to be future ready and highly employable. Completing this course positions you and may inspire you to pursue an accelerated career pathway towards becoming a future leader, clinical expert or researcher within the nursing profession.

Work placement

At the beginning of the course you are allocated a home trust and you attend a trust induction before starting your first practice placement. We offer placements that cover a large geographical area to provide diverse and rewarding learning experiences, so you must be prepared to travel to gain experience of the adult journey, independent sector and agency provision. Travel expenses can be claimed if mileage or public transport costs exceed your home to university mileage/costs.


Information for international applicants


International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

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Useful information

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2020/21 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£14,500 a year

a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

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Improve your project management, critical thinking, research skills, time management, presentation skills and teamwork.



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