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Postgraduate study
Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting)

Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting) MSc

If you are a registered nurse or midwife looking to become a health visitor, this course is ideal for you to contribute positively to the new public health agenda to tackle health inequalities on an individual and community basis and become an independent, resilient, dynamic, practitioner, who can promote a critical enquiry of specialist community public health nursing practice.


Course overview


Your educational journey of personal and professional development in a supportive and student-centred environment builds on your prior knowledge, skills and experience.

This Nursing and Midwifery Council-approved course leads to registration on Part 3 of the register as a specialist community public health nurse (health visiting) and be recorded as a community prescriber, and for academic development at master’s level. You develop public health practice knowledge and skills in order to work effectively with individuals, families and communities along with public health leadership skills, to enable you to contribute to the contemporary health visiting agenda.

Leadership is a key element, and you focus on quality improvement and how leadership skills and qualities can influence achievement of sustained change within SCPHN practice, and develop as a responsive, resilient and flexible practitioner who can respond to the changing health and social care environment. You investigate the health needs, protection and surveillance of the child and family in a health visiting context, and prescribe from the community practitioners formulary.

This is a practice-centred course with 50% taught theory and 50% practice. You require a contract and agreement with a health trust, local authority or employer to provide a clinical placement. You are allocated a practice assessor by your sponsoring organisation – they facilitate your learning in practice and are responsible for assessing your competence in practice.

You explore evidence appraisal, to understand the evidence which underpins and supports practice. Your practice experience enables you to link your theoretical knowledge base to practice. You learn alongside students from a range of local partners, as well as students on postgraduate courses which encourages different perspectives and ideas.

Your dissertation is an opportunity for you to consolidate and develop further skills and knowledge from previous modules in a specific area of interest to apply your research-related knowledge to identify a researchable problem, plan and execute a study.

Top reasons to study this course include:

• Our strong links with local social care services, the NHS trusts, private and charitable organisations, and service users ensure the course content is relevant and current

• Become an independent, resilient, dynamic, practitioner, who can promote a critical enquiry of specialist community public health nursing practice

• You learn with students from a range of backgrounds in an inclusive, diverse and supportive environment, which will enrich your learning experience.

• Experienced, dedicated and enthusiastic teaching team have a strong focus on evidence-base practice

• Varied and unique career prospects across all areas of health and social care

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Course details

You study evidence based practice and the factors which impact on the health and well-being of children and their families; protection and safeguarding standards for children and their families; the new health visiting agenda, UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative standards; public health, personal leadership philosophies and behaviours and their application within organisational settings; public health nursing practice, legal and ethical dimensions; prescribing from the community practitioners’ formulary, and designing and managing a research project.

Course structure

Core modules

Advancing Community Practitioner Prescribing

This module prepares specialist community public health Nurses (ie health visiting and school nursing) to prescribe from the Community Practitioners’ Formulary. It is undertaken by students studying health visiting and school nursing and utilises seminars, student-led discussions, learning sets and exposure to supervised prescribing experiences with their practice teacher in the student’s practice placement.

There will also be periods of self-directed study based upon the indicative content and an assessment of your own learning needs in relation to prescribing. E-learning via the site will be used as a resource for you to keep a learning log of prescribing practice experience from which you will develop a selection of case studies for analysis

Advancing Leadership Skills in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing

You gain skills to critically evaluate your leadership philosophy and leadership abilities in the context of working within and across professional organisational structures.

You identify strategies to develop your leadership skills and behaviours that enable you to function effectively within clinical/professional practice and lead within collaborative working environments. A range of learning strategies are used; seminars, student-led discussions and self-directed study.
You are encouraged to share your experiences of clinical leadership and organisational contexts to enable debate and examination of leadership styles and behaviours relevant for specialist community public health practice and working in a collaborative and social care context.

Contemporary Public Health in Practice

This module is shared by all fields of practice. You explore health, health needs assessment, health improvement and community development from a theoretical perspective and within the social, political and economic context. You apply the principles to your own field of practice. You learn through a combination of lectures, discussions, group work and experiential learning. You grow confidence to become an effective public health practitioner who can reflect, respond and contribute to the public health agenda.

Developing Research Projects

Develop the knowledge and skills you need to design and manage primary or secondary research, audit or evaluation project relevant to your practice, preparing you for dissertation. You also cover research governance and ethics, to prepare you to apply for ethical approval or release.

You are assessed through a written 4,000-word proposal for a research, audit or evaluation study, which is worth 100% of the module marks and should be submitted in week 13.


Here you consolidate and develop further skills and knowledge from previous modules. More specifically you synthesise learning as you apply your research-related knowledge to identify a researchable problem, plan and execute a study. You use a range of different methodologies for your study, such as quantitative, qualitative or systematic review.

Enhancing Safe and Effective Practice in Health Visiting Practice

You explore the many factors impacting on the health and wellbeing of children and their families in a variety of settings and life circumstances. You critically evaluate current policy and legislation, linking this to the protection of children and families. You build on existing experience and enable you to adapt your practice, knowledge and skills to the needs of children and families, providing a foundation for specialist community public health nursing (health visiting) practice in the community setting.

Implementing Evidence Based Practice

You gain the knowledge and skills to use research evidence to inform your clinical practice. You develop focused questions, undertake a structured search, critically evaluate research evidence, apply evidence to practice and evaluate the application to practice. The module also supports you in making the transition to studying at master’s level.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

Teaching methods include lecturers, seminars, experiential learning, scenarios, problem based learning, case study work, simulations, action learning sets, and peer led seminars and discussions.

Learning in practice is supported with the development of a practice assessment document, which includes self-assessment activities, learning contracts, learning logs, reflective dialogue and discussion with practice assessors, practice supervisors and academic staff.

How you are assessed

Assessments include examinations, a defended poster, essays, case study analysis, research proposal, skill simulations and a service evaluation project. Practice is assessed by the practice assessment document, through the mechanism of the tripartite meetings which include you, your practice assessor and your academic assessor.


Entry requirements

You should have:

  • a degree of 2:2 or above or
  • evidence of successful study at postgraduate level
  • a valid level 1 registration on part 1 or part 2 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) professional register (defined area of practice apply)
  • successful interview

After achieving the above your offer of a place on the programme is subject to:
> the support of an employing organisation who will facilitate your access to appropriate learning opportunities - normally you will have supernumerary status throughout the programme of learning
> a nominated practice assessor who will contribute to the teaching and assessment process
> a satisfactory work-based risk assessment.
> a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service check (to be carried out by your employing organisation.

Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credits for previous study or related work experience which can be credited towards the course you want to study. Find out more about RPL.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

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



Career opportunities

This programme prepares you to work as a health visitor and to take practice forward to meet the challenges of a dynamic health visiting profession.


Information for international applicants


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Professional accreditation

Following successful completion of the required theoretical learning outcomes (120 credits at master’s level) and the specialist community public health nursing practice competencies (NMC 2004) you are eligible to register as a specialist community public health nurse (health visiting), and be recorded as a community prescriber on the NMC register. You continue your studies and complete a 60 credit master’s level dissertation module leading to the MSc Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting). This is undertaken as one year part-time or six months full-time study after Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visitor) registration with the NMC. It must be completed within five years of commencing the programme.


2023/24 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£6,710 a year

Requires sponsorship from employing organisation

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£15,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

Apply now (full-time)



2023/24 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£750 for each 20 credits

More details about our fees

Apply now (part-time)

Apply now (part-time)


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Service user and carer involvement

Service users and carers support all aspects of our students' lifecycle from recruitment to graduation.

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