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Postgraduate study
Nursing & Health

Specialist Practice in District Nursing PgDip/MSc

District nursing is a core service within the NHS. The Five Year Forward View (NHS England 2015) sets out an expectation that more care will be provided in the community in the future. This care will be to people with increasingly complex needs and the people working in these health and social care structures will have to be more flexible to accommodate this.


Course overview


The district nurse must respond to these challenges and the Queen's Nursing Institute/Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland (QNI/QNIS) Voluntary Standards for District Nurse Education and Practice (2015) provide a strong framework for district nurses in the current NHS as well as the skills and knowledge base needed to respond to the dynamic nature of community nursing.

There are two courses at master’s level: the postgraduate diploma and the masters. (The postgraduate diploma is Year 1 of the full master's degree.) By successfully completing either of these courses you achieve the new QNI/QNIS Voluntary Standards for District Nurse Education and Practice as well as the standards set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for the Specialist Practice in Nursing in the Home/District Nursing professional qualification which is recorded on the NMC register. This qualification has integrated within it the Community Practitioner Prescribing (V100) qualification (NMC 2006), enabling you to prescribe from the community practitioner’s formulary.

You will also have demonstrated skills at Level 3 of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines in brief interventions which is a requirement for a district nurse as set out in the Health Education England’s District Nursing and General Practice Education and Career Framework (2015).

The courses have been designed in consultation with local employers, professional standards bodies, students (past and present), service users and carers, and district nurse educators from across the country. We hope that this has led to programmes of study which are challenging, contemporary, inspiring and enjoyable.

When you successfully complete your chosen course, you are well prepared for the dynamic and inspiring world of community nursing as well as being in a strong position to apply for position as a district nurse and team leader.

Use this helpful decision tool to decide which district nursing course is right for you.

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Course details

For both programme routes, you study seven modules full time across a total period of 44 weeks. The PgDip route (which is the first year of the master’s route) includes practice competencies which you achieve on placement. The balance of the course is 50% theory and 50% practice.

If you continue to the MSc route after your first year, you undertake an eighth module which gives you 60 credits as a part-time student. This module has a flexible format and could involve you carrying out live research, a systematic review, preparing an article with an evidence file which underpins this or a service evaluation.

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 and Management in the Context of Specialist Practice

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.

Advancing Patient Safety in District Nursing

You explore patient safety aspects in depth, applying them to district nursing and considering the implications for practice. It challenges you to reflect on your clinical practice and to consider areas for improvement whilst debating the challenges in practice. You examine examples of good practice, as well as research around compounding factors, drawn from the global evidence base.

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.

Evidence-based Practice

You enhance your skills as a professional practicing evidence-based health care. This module also helps your transition to postgraduate study. You develop key skills that are transferable to subsequent modules, such as literature searching and using advanced critical appraisal skills as an integral part of decision making in health and social care. You also learn how to apply the principles of change management to implement evidence in practice. We use a variety of approaches to teaching including e-learning, formal lectures, seminars and practical activities.

Principles and Practice of Advanced Management of Long-term Health Conditions

You develop as a practitioner competent in implementing the principles of the assessment and management of a person with a long-term health condition. The teaching promotes an approach to practice which is critical and reflective enabling you to emerge with advanced skills in managing this key group of people within the community. The long-term health agenda is at the core of this module, with the content encompassing diagnosis, major conditions including dementia, self-management and end of life care. Learning and practising clinical skills within a classroom setting is an essential component of this module and so you are asked to complete a form to consent to practical and classroom experiential learning at the start of the module.


MSc only


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.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

These courses require you to commit to a very comprehensive and individual approach to learning.

There are opportunities for some components of your learning to be accredited through recognised prior learning – this is agreed on an individual basis.

This course helps you gain confidence in accessing digital resources. You share some of your learning with other students on the undergraduate district nursing course, some with students on other courses and some further time with just your own course.

Classroom teaching includes group discussions, presentations, project work and clinical skills development in practical labs. We highly value the experience and knowledge of service users and carers who are involved in the programme, for example through teaching activities and assessment. Your practice assessor plays a significant role in ensuring that you have access to great learning opportunities during placement. Their skills and experiences also provide you with an excellent role model.

The final dissertation module within the MSc route gives you the opportunity to focus on an aspect of district nursing which interests you. You investigate this issue in depth through a format agreed with the module leader.

How you are assessed

You are assessed in a number of ways as we know everyone learns differently. These include exams, essays, reflections, reports, simulations, projects and assessing proficiencies in practice evidenced through a portfolio. Your practice assessor and key practice supervisor are key to these practice assessments.


Entry requirements

You should have a first degree at a 2.2 (or above) or equivalent. If you don't have a first degree at this level, you must demonstrate that you can successfully study at master’s level.

You must have an NMC-valid registration as a registered adult nurse and be successful at interview where value-based recruitment is embedded, and subject to gaining support from an employing organisation who will be responsible for the following essential elements:
- enabling access to the appropriate learning opportunities – normally you have supernumerary status throughout the learning programme
- providing practice assessor and key practice supervisor who contribute to your teaching and assessment process, and are practicing community prescribers and provides you with practice learning opportunities
- completing a satisfactory work-based risk assessment
- ensuring you have a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and as the employer, have a policy which requires you to immediately inform them of any changes which may affect the status of your DBS record – any issues which may have implications for your progression on the course must be communicated to the course leader immediately.

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



Career opportunities

When you successfully complete the course, you are well prepared for the dynamic and inspiring world of community nursing with an advanced level of professional knowledge. You are also well placed to apply for a position as a district nurse and team leader.

Following successful completion of the postgraduate diploma, you can return to Teesside University within five years to enrol on the MSc route.


Professional accreditation

After successfully completing your course you are eligible to be awarded the recordable qualification of the Specialist Practice Qualification in District Nursing which has integrated within it the V100 recordable qualification of the Community Practitioner Prescriber.


2023/24 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£6,710 a year

Limited HEENE funded places available for eligible applicants - you must check with admissions before applying. PgDip: £3,365

More details about our fees

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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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