Undergraduate study
Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities)

BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities)

UCAS code: B761 BSc/NurLD

All services offered to people with learning disabilities should be person-centred. This means that people with learning disabilities should be involved in issues which affect their lives, should expect services to be responsive to individual needs, and should have equal rights and opportunities in society. This degree course gives you the foundations for a rewarding career in learning disabilities nursing. As a learning disabilities nurse, you can make a real difference to the lives of patients and their families.

Course information


  • Length: 3 years

More full-time details


  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information


Note: this course has limited places available for January 2018.

Working as a learning disabilities nurse you have the opportunity to help people with learning disabilities live their lives in the way they choose and provide support and guidance with some of the everyday things that we might take for granted. You assist the person with learning disabilities with all aspects of their lives including health and social care, education, employment, leisure and recreation. You will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to works in diverse settings and develop a leadership role within integrated care teams. To be a nurse and to share people’s healthcare experiences, in sometimes very difficult and emotional times, is a privilege. The public places high expectations and levels of trust upon nurses, and the course develops practitioners who can meet these expectations. It is hard work and challenging. Therefore to work within the healthcare sector it is essential that you are able to demonstrate the core values embedded within the NHS Constitution:

  • working together for patients
  • respect and dignity
  • commitment to quality of care
  • compassion
  • improving lives
  • everyone counts.

Throughout the course, as part of the placement experience, you will be required to participate in a shift pattern rota or work weekends.

Professional accreditation

On successful completion of the course you will be eligible to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (MNC) on the nurses' part of the Professional Register (Learning Disabilities Nursing).

During the pre-registration nursing course you are expected to work to the spirit of the NMC Code (2015) at all times - The Code (2015) Professional Standards of Practice and Behaviour for Nurses and Midwives, Nursing and Midwifery Council London

Please note 100% attendance is expected during this programme.

Supporting information for applicants

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Year 1
You focus on developing the fundamental knowledge and skills required to deliver high quality professional nursing practice. Modules studied explore care, compassion and communication, human development and functioning across the age continuum, decision making, and improving health and wellbeing. The focus of your practice experiences and learning is on assessing and meeting the fundamental physical and mental health needs of people of all ages, and the development of knowledge and skills within your own nursing field.

Year 2
You increasingly focus on your field of practice. Modules further develop your decision making skills and explore how evidence is used to promote best practice in relation to nursing care, service provision and the experience of service users and carers. Within the practice environment you continue to develop your ability to assess and meet the fundamental physical and mental health needs of people of all ages and the more complex and co-existing needs of people from your own nursing field.

Year 3
Throughout the three years of the course you engage in a number of learning activities designed to enable you to develop leadership skills and personal effectiveness. Year 3 brings this learning together. You undertake a self-managed project designed to improve health and nursing practice. During your practice placements you focus on nursing leadership and management and enhancing your personal effectiveness to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Introduction to Decision-making in Learning Disability Nursing

We provide you with the foundation knowledge essential to decision-making in learning disability nursing and enable you to apply the essential knowledge underpinning learning disabilities nursing across the continuum of care considering legal, ethical, professional and clinical governance issues.

Introduction to Human Development and Functioning across the Age Continuum

You gain an introduction to functional anatomy and physiology with links to developmental milestones, common conditions and health needs across the age spectrum and fields of nursing.

A study guide, introduced in week one, is used to direct learning and help you make meaningful connections between module content: anatomy, physiology, developmental theory and factors contributing to health and wellbeing.

The Foundations of Nursing: Care, Compassion and Communication

You to develop the knowledge and inter-personal skills which underpin caring, compassionate nursing practice; and those required to communicate effectively with all service users, carers and members of the multidisciplinary team.

The foundations of therapeutic nursing, using appropriate interpersonal skills and the development of nurse-patient relationships are explored. The importance of effective communication across the age continuum, irrespective of illness or ability is also examined, together with the need for self-awareness and personal effectiveness within the caring role. This facilitates the development of the fundamental leadership skills and strategies required to effectively manage challenging situations.

The Fundamentals of Caring and Professional Nursing Practice

We facilitate development of the fundamental nursing knowledge and skills required in order to meet service users’ physical, mental health and emotional care needs. We also introduce you to your field of nursing practice.

The Role of the Nurse in Improving Health and Wellbeing

You explore the factors and issues which impact upon people’s health, wellbeing, access to care and experience of illness and recovery; together with the nurse’s role in designing, delivering and monitoring services to ensure high quality care. You also develop your ability to use best available evidence to support practice decisions and promote innovation.


Year 2 core modules

Developing Decision-making in Learning Disability Nursing Practice

We introduce you to the complexity of learning disability nursing practice within a diversity of health care settings. Knowledge and understanding gained in the first year is developedis developed further with regard to assessing and planning care to meet the physiological, psychosocial and cultural needs of service users and their families. Emphasis is put on the evidence base required to assist you with clinical and ethical decision-making processes involved in planning and providing effective care to service users and their families.

Promoting Caring and Professional Practice in Learning Disability Nursing

You build on learning from Year 1 and further develop the knowledge and skills underpinning learning disabilities nursing practice across a range of diverse health settings. You focus on being able to holistically assess and meet the fundamental physical and mental health needs of people of all ages and the more complex and co-existing needs of people within the learning disabilities field of practice and their families/carers.

Promoting Positive Outcomes in Learning Disability Nursing Practice

You build on the knowledge and understanding of the role of the nurse for people with learning disabilities that was developed in the first year of the nursing programme. Using a person-centred philosophy you explore positive outcomes in the journeys through health and social care services of people with learning disabilities and their families/carers across the age continuum. The unique and distinctive contribution that nursing makes to facilitating positive outcomes is emphasised within the context of multidisciplinary and multi-agency service delivery and professional accountability.

The Role of the Nurse in Promoting Evidence-based Health and Service Improvement

You build on the knowledge and skills developed in year one of the programme, and further develop your ability to critique and use evidence to support the delivery of high quality nursing care, health and service improvement. To achieve this you cover three core themes including exploration of some of the contextual factors that influence service delivery, organisational cultures, leadership and the reform/service improvement agenda.

The influence and importance of service user engagement in this process is emphasised, while some of the more influential professional, economic, health and social policy drivers are also explored. During the module you are expected to attend a Trust, Governor’s or Governance Board meeting in order to gain insights into local health care priorities and agendas and how these may influence health care provision.


Final-year core modules

Developing the Nursing Contribution to Continuous Improvement in Health and Social Care Practice

You develop your ability to contribute to improving services in practice within the context of the nursing role, based upon critical evaluation of the evidence regarding a focused, student-determined area of practice. The current context of health and social care improvement is explored within the module, as is contemporary care quality issues such as the Francis Report (2010) and the Patients' Association Report and CARE Campaign (2011).

Enhancing Clinical Decision-making in Learning Disabilities Nursing Practice

You build on previous learning and focus on complex decision-making within learning disabilities nursing practice. Risk management and the decision-making process are explored. Emphasis is also placed on developing an enhanced awareness of how clinical decision-making can impact on self, service users, their families/carers, health and social care professionals and the service being delivered.

Leading Professional and Caring Practice in Learning Disabilities Nursing

You develop your ability to lead and manage the care of patients with complex needs in diverse care environments. You are provided with the opportunity to develop your role in caseload management and associated skills including prioritising care, negotiating, decision-making, delegation, time management, team-building and the teaching of others.

Emphasis is placed on challenging practice where appropriate in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of people. These aspects of practice promote your understanding of inter-professional learning and provide further opportunities to work with other professional groups and fields of practice.

Shared key lectures with other fields of nursing practice take place. This shared-learning relates to teaching others, leadership and management.


Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

50% of the learning time is spent engaging in University or self-managed learning activities (theory) and 50% of the time is spent within placement allocations (practice).

The teaching week during theory/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 mentor or supervisor. These will include early starts (for example a shift may start at 7.00am and finish at 8.00pm), night duty and weekend shifts.

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.

During University-based learning you engage in a range of both teacher-led and student-led activities. Such activities include lectures, discussions, group activities, seminar presentations, tutorials, skills workshops, experiential learning / simulations, service user-focused activities and e-learning.

Practice placements are provided in a range of settings which may include the service user’s home, short stay and hospital environments, schools and day services. The people with learning disabilities that you come into contact with may need help with needs in areas such as communication, daily livings skills, challenging behaviour and mental health issues; preventative, acute and long-term healthcare provision. As part of your placement allocation journey, there are opportunities to gain experience with client groups from other fields of nursing (mental health, adult and children’s nursing) to enable you to develop an understanding of the health and nursing needs of people across all fields of practice.

Travel to placements
The range of placements provide diverse and rewarding learning experiences. Placements may not be near to your home or within your local trust. You are expected to travel to different areas.

Both practice and theory learning experiences enable you to explore the service users’ journey, developing knowledge and experience of nursing and healthcare needs within services across the age continuum.

How you are assessed

Assessments are varied and reflect module outcomes. They include written assignments, examinations, case studies and presentations. You are also assessed in practice through a portfolio of evidence each year. Essential placement based competencies must be met for this course, including:

  • demonstration of professional values as highlighted in the
    NHS Constitutional Values (NHS Constitution 2013)
  • mathematical calculations in relation to drug administration
  • physical and manual dexterity to undertake clinical skills
  • observational and auditory ability are needed to carry out holistic practical examinations and emergency care
  • 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
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs

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 in the fields of nursing practice, leadership, research, education and consultancy.

Entry requirements

A typical offer will be a minimum of 96-112 tariff points from two or three A Levels or equivalent, for example a QAA recognised Access Course, and GCSE passes at grade 4 (grade C) or above, or equivalent, in English language and maths or equivalent qualifications. For further detailed entry requirements for this course please visit www.ucas.com.

International applicants

  • International applicants must have IELTS 7.0, with a minimal score of 7.0 in all sections, before an unconditional offer is made
  • If you are successful at shortlisting you will be invited to attend an interview (which may be in person OR Skype) in one of our international offices in either India, Malaysia or China, or you can chose to attend an interview at Teesside University (at your own cost)
  • If you can not attend an interview as stated, you will be unable to proceed with your application.

    The selection process includes shortlisting of your application, following which, if successful you will be invited for an interview.

    Shortlisting criteria
    Your application will be 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
    • evidence of successful level 2 academic study over the last five years
    • 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 will be used as part of the selection process. This will involve you moving through a series of three interview stations (approximately ten minutes per station). At each station you will explore a different scenario and will be measured against the six C's and the following criteria which has been mapped against the NHS Constitution:

    • knowledge of chosen profession/career
    • an appreciation of the demands of the courseand 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 will receive a conditional offer which is subject to the following:

    1. evidence of achievement of the required academic qualifications
    2. a successful work based risk assessment which will reflect the HEOPS recommendations - please read these here. For more information on all of the HEOPS standards click here
    3. a satisfactory DBS disclosure - please note that any warnings, cautions, allegations or convictions received in the last five years may have implications for your continued offer on the course
    4. satisfactory references.

    Please note until 1 to 4 have been successfully completed the offer of a place on the course remains conditional.

    For international enquiries please email internationalenquiries@tees.ac.uk

    For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

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

    You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
    Find out more about RPL

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Course information


  • Length: 3 years

More full-time details


  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information