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Undergraduate study
bsc learning disability nursing, learning disability degree, learning disabilities course

Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities)* BSc (Hons)

As a learning disabilities nurse you can make a real difference to the lives of patients and their families. It’s a challenging and rewarding career.


Course overview


Working in healthcare

Hear from a range of health professionals, including Teesside University graduates, working at James Cook Hospital. Discover the variety of health professions and learn about their roles, why they chose a healthcare career and why its so rewarding.

You play a central role in understanding the health needs of people with learning disabilities, supporting them with issues which affect their lives, their individual needs, rights and opportunities in society. You empower the person with a learning disability to have a fulfilling life, to live as independently as possible, and support their family.

You gain specialist knowledge and skills, effective communication and creative, solution-focused problem-solving experience, key in conditions such as autism, fragile X and Down’s syndrome.

You mainly visit people in their own homes, supported living and community-focused environments. You also work in specialist hospitals, respite services, inpatient settings, clinics and forensic hospitals, supporting people who are detained under the Mental Health Act. You may assist people with a variety of learning disabilities, autism spectrum conditions, complex physical health and mental health needs.

Your work also involves managing medicine, undertaking advanced clinical tasks, leading the multidisciplinary team and coordinating care. 100% attendance is expected during this course.

Top reasons to study this course:

  1. Graduate success: 100% of BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities) graduates go on to work and/or study 15 months after the course (Graduate Outcomes survey 2020-21,
  2. Grow your professional network: we have strong links to local and regional NHS trusts, charitable organisations and the private sector, helping to expand your network of contacts. You also get the opportunity to showcase your talent to industry professionals by presenting your work at external events.
  3. Travel the world: join an internationally recognised profession offering global career opportunities. Our students have recently carried out placements in Tanzania, Ghana, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
  4. Gain practical experience: learn in our industry-standard facilities including a sensory room, mock psychiatric ward, independent living space and hydrotherapy pool, giving you experience and confidence before entering practice.
  5. Financial support: study this course and you may be eligible for a £5,000 maintenance grant each year from the NHS Business Service Authority. Find out more. You can also apply for our Placement Support Fund if you are experiencing financial difficulties attending your placement. Find out more.

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Supporting information for applicants

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* Subject to University approval


Course details

Course content includes an emphasis on mental health and cognitive issues impacting on health, reflects the changing and challenging role of healthcare and the diverse role of the registered nurse. Leadership studies is embedded throughout the course to enable you to play a crucial role in moving practice forward. The quality of our partnerships with placement providers and service users means you gain sector-standard practice and experiences.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Bio-psychosocial Approaches to Nursing Care and Decision Making

This module involves shared learning and teaching across all fields of nursing, to develop an understanding of the holistic issues that may influence and impact on the care and experience of people within different health care settings. You develop a broad understanding of the theoretical frameworks underpinning the discipline of nursing and identify and explore patterns and determinants of health, wellbeing and illness at a local, national and global level.

You identify and explore the knowledge base required to meet the fundamental mental, physical, cognitive and behavioural needs of people within their care. Research-informed teaching and learning will introduce you to the concept and process of evidence-based practice, which will enable you to take a critical approach towards nursing care.

Bio-psychosocial Development Across the Lifespan

You develop an understanding of human systems and the patterns and determinants of health, wellbeing and illness. This will include consideration of the altered and normal human biopsychosocial development. You develop an awareness of genomics, sociological, psychological development and their impact upon physical health, mental health, and intellectual impairments across the lifespan.

You will have an awareness of routine investigations which will then contribute to the development of your knowledge of commonly encountered physical and behavioural health conditions. You will understand the principles of pathogenesis, immunology, and evidence base for immunisation, vaccination and herd immunity, and establish an understanding of the principles of infection prevention and control.

Experts by Experience the Person's Voice

You develop an understanding of the centrality of the person receiving care and valuing and promoting reciprocity in every interaction. You will explore the philosophical basis and key concepts underpinning approaches to working with different people and service user groups. The biopsychosocial experience and impact of altered health and wellbeing, physical illness, cognition and/or treatment upon the person and family will be examined from the service user perspective.

You explore the balance of power within health and social care provision and relationships, and empowerment and the concepts of therapeutic alliances will be examined. The concepts of meaning, empathy, compassion, trust, connectedness and hope will be analysed and applied to practice.

Foundations of Nursing Proficiency: the Professional Basis of Care and Caring

This module will facilitate the development of fundamental knowledge and skills that pre-registration nurses must demonstrate when caring for people of all ages across care settings. The module content is linked to the Nursing and Midwifery Council platforms and proficiency statements combining theory and practice elements.

The module combines theory, practical skills and placement experience and incorporates the four fields of nursing across three semesters with students in mixed theory groups.Technology-enhanced learning is a key feature. Understanding the foundations of nursing proficiency and professional nursing practice will be developed through pre-reading, seminars and supporting of direct care through simulated workshops including role play, clinical skills development, simulation and the use of scenarios.

Introduction to Personal and Professional Effectiveness in Nursing Practice

This module will provide the foundations from which students from all fields of nursing will examine the role of the nurse as a leader and champion of high-quality, person-centred nursing care, professional practice and innovation. It enables you to explore the knowledge, values and skills required to develop your personal effectiveness and reflective practice. This exploration will be used as a professional platform to inform their leadership development.

You will be introduced to the theoretical concepts underpinning leadership and personal effectiveness including self-awareness, resilience and self-management, as well as the core professional values of nursing.


Year 2 core modules

Collaborative and Interdependent Working to Promote Health and Well-being

You build upon and apply the leadership and personal effectiveness knowledge and skills they developed in Stage 1 of the course. It focuses upon the nurse's role in collaborative and interdependent working with others, to influence and motivate. You explore how they can use their personal qualities and skills to contribute to, and promote a culture of high-quality person-centred care and a positive working environment. You develop your ability to articulate a shared vision and purpose to inspire others, engage the team and lead with care.

Developing Personal and Professional Effectiveness in Nursing Practice

You further develop your understanding from the first year module across all fields of nursing of the role of the nurse as a leader and champion of high-quality, person-centred nursing care, professional practice and innovation. It enables you to explore and critique the knowledge, values and skills required to develop your personal effectiveness and reflective practice. This exploration will be used to advance knowledge to inform your leadership development.

You develop skills to explore theoretical concepts underpinning leadership and personal effectiveness including self-awareness, resilience and self-management, as well as the core professional values of nursing.

Nurse as Investigator and Leader of Change

You build on the knowledge and skills developed in Year 1 in relation to the role, nature and use of evidence to support health and social care practice and service improvement. You develop your ability to critically appraise a range of evidence. You will explore how evidence is used to underpin national guidelines, decision-making and high-quality nursing practice within a clinical governance framework. To facilitate evidence-based practice and influence the improvement agenda you will apply leadership and change management concepts covered in other modules.

Promoting Learning Disabilities Nursing Proficiency: Developing Evidence-based Professional Care and Caring

This module will help you to meet the Stage 2 practice competencies and associated benchmarks, addressing the NMC (2010) Essential Skills Clusters second progression point.
You will develop the ability to assess and meet the fundamental physical and mental health needs of people with learning disabilities in a range of diverse settings.

The module will facilitate the application and development of your knowledge and skills needed to nurse adult clients. Understanding of professional nursing practice will be through shared key lectures with students on all fields of nursing and learning disability field-related workshops. You will engage in a variety of specific workshops which will focus upon clinical skills relevant to the range of diverse learning disability care settings.

Therapeutic Nursing in Learning Disabilities Nursing

You explore the nature and focus of therapeutic practice in learning disability nursing across service user journeys. You build upon your knowledge and understanding of altered pathophysiology, cognition and health/wellbeing. This will enable you to further develop your ability to formulate evidence-based, person-centred decisions within a biopsychosocial context.

The principles and impact of nursing care for patients with co-morbidity and associated physical and psychosocial conditions will be examined. You will explore the complexity of contemporary health and social care practice, this will include how services are delivered, resource management and the individual needs of people accessing nursing settings.


Final-year core modules

Enhanced Person-centred Assessment and Decision Making Skills in Learning Disabilities Nursing

You gain the knowledge, understanding and skills required to undertake enhanced holistic assessments of people accessing learning disability nursing services. You develop your ability to work in partnership with people across the lifespan in a range of primary, secondary and tertiary care environments.

You develop history taking skills to enable you to explore the presenting problems, precipitating factors, predisposing influences, perpetuating and protective factors relevant to the individual. The needs of the families and carers will also be considered within a person centred approach. Interpretation of assessment and evaluation data and how this informs evidence-based nursing diagnosis, liaison and referral to the appropriate member of the integrated team will be explored. The nurse’s accountability and scope of practice will be examined within the context of the NMC Code.

Enhanced Therapeutic Practice in Learning Disabilities Nursing

You explore complex therapeutic person-centred decision making within learning disabilities nursing practice. This enables you to further develop the knowledge and decision making skills required to proactively manage the health care needs of people accessing learning disabilities nursing services within primary secondary and tertiary care settings. It also equips you with the knowledge and skills required to promote evidence-based decision making and integrated team working when managing people’s complex care needs.

You will build upon your knowledge and understanding of altered pathophysiology, cognition, health and wellbeing. Therapeutic nursing practice and interventions including applied pharmacology and bio-psychosocial approaches to care will be examined throughout the module.

Enhancing Learning Disabilities Nursing Proficiency: Leading Evidence-based Professional and Caring Practice

You focus upon the quality improvement agenda and using a systematic approach to improving the safety, effectiveness and people’s experience of care. You will further develop your knowledge and understanding of the role of the nurse and evidence in relation to entrepreneurship in the context of service improvement. You consolidate, enhance and apply the skills and attributes you will need to enable you to develop and carry out a service improvement initiative in the workplace.

Nursing Improvement and Entrepreneurship

You focuses on enhancing skills and attributes to enable you to explore systematic approaches to develop the quality improvement agenda and improve the safety, effectiveness and people’s experience of care. The role of the nurse in this context will be explored. You will develop and propose a service improvement initiative in the workplace utilising enhanced knowledge and understanding of the tools, techniques and models linked to successful improvement initiatives in health care practice.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

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

The teaching week is Monday to Friday and may involve some evening sessions. During placements you complete allocated shift patterns, for example a typical shift is 7.00am - 8.00pm, night duty and weekends. Holidays are fixed and it is not possible to take holidays outside of the set dates.

During University-based learning you engage in teacher-led and student-led activities, including include lectures, discussions, group activities, seminar presentations, tutorials, skills workshops, experiential learning / simulations, service user-focused activities and e-learning. Digital competency and learning through digital based platforms are an important component of the course.

Practice placements are in a range of settings which may include the service user’s home, short stay and hospital environments, schools and day services across a range of age groups. The people with learning disabilities that you support may need help with communication, daily livings skills, challenging behaviour and mental health issues; preventative, acute and long-term healthcare provision. There are opportunities for you to gain experience in other fields of nursing (mental health, adult and children’s nursing) for you to develop an understanding of the health and nursing needs of all fields of practice.

How you are assessed

Assessments are varied and include written assignments, examinations, case studies and presentations. You are also assessed in practice through a Practice Assessment Documentation which is linked to the Nursing and Midwifery Council requirement of communication and relationship management skills and nursing procedures skills which must be met for this course. These platforms are:

  • being an accountable professional
  • promoting health and preventing ill health
  • assessing needs and planning care
  • providing and evaluating care
  • leading and managing nursing care and working in teams
  • improving safety and quality of care
  • co-ordinating care.

Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

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


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

You are expected to have:

  • Level 2 Academic Study
  • 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 English and Maths GCSE. Please note these are not required if you are doing an Access course – however, you must have English and maths as listed below.*

Plus any of the following qualifications:

GCE and VCE Advanced Level
112 points from two or three A levels, or equivalent T levels.

AS Level
These are only acceptable combined with other qualifications. One AS level can be accepted when combined with two or three A Levels to meet the 112 points required.

Access course
112 UCAS points from a QAA-recognised Access course (any combination) *We can accept level 2 Access units in communication and maths in place of English and maths GCSEs.

BTEC QCF Extended Diploma
112 points (DMM).

CACHE Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health & Social Care
120 points (B) in health and social care.

Foundation degree
A pass in any subject.

Irish Leaving Certificate
112 points from four or five Highers/Honours subjects.

Open University
60 credits at Level 4 with the Open University or a CertHE pass in any subject.

Scottish Highers
112 points from four or five Highers.

Advanced Scottish Highers
112 points from three Advanced Highers.

For further detailed entry requirements for this course please visit

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
  • 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
Applicants successful at shortlisting will be invited to an interview (which may be in person OR video call) where you will be measured against the NHS values, and the the six C's.You will be measured against the following criteria::

  • 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. an enhanced criminal history (DBS) check may be required for certain modules or placements which involve working with children and/or adults at risk. The DBS check is funded by the School of Health & Life Sciences so you do not need to pay for this process.
  4. satisfactory references.

Please note until 1 to 4 have been successfully completed the offer of a place on the course remains conditional. Advanced standing for a maximum of 50% of the course is available for suitable candidates, subject to them meeting the Recognition of Prior Learning criteria. This is only considered once a place has been offered and accepted.

International applicants
  • International applicants must have a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 or equivalent in line with University English Language Policy that equates to overall IELTS 7 with a minimum of 6.5 in writing (or equivalent), 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 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 not attend an interview as stated, you will be unable to proceed with your application.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

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



Career opportunities

This course provides a stepping stone for you to develop your expertise in nursing practice, leadership, research, education and consultancy. You could go on to work in community nursing, health facilitation, GP practice nursing, forensics, respite services, profound and multiple learning disability nursing, school nursing, sexual health or liaison nursing. Our graduates are working in the NHS, private organisations, charities, government organisations and schools.


Information for international applicants


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

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Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

Talk to us

Talk to an international student enrolment adviser


Professional accreditation

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

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


Entry to 2024/25 academic year

Fee for UK applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£17,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years
  • UCAS code: B761 BSc/NurLD
  • Start date: September
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 112 tariff points and interview

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS



  • Not available part-time

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    BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities)

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  • Student and graduate profiles

    Donna Emmerson

    Donna EmmersonBSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities)

    I am passionate about supporting people with a learning disability and empowering them to reach their full potential, so nursing was the perfect choice for me.

    Meet Donna

    Beatrice Friebe

    Beatrice FriebeBSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities)

    Beatrice wanted to make a difference to people's lives and now she is.

    Meet Beatrice

    Aimee Wakenshaw

    Aimee WakenshawBSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities)

    Amy is now a registered learning disabilities nurse.

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  • News

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

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