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Undergraduate study
Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities) (Pre-Registration) Apprenticeship

Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities) (Pre-Registration) Apprenticeship* BSc (Hons)

This course provides the springboard for the apprentice to achieve personal career aspirations to become a registered nurse specialising in learning disabilities nursing.


Professional apprenticeship
Linked Level 6 University award: BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities)


Course overview

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The public places high expectations and levels of trust in the nursing professional and this course aims to develop confident, articulate and aspiring graduate nurses who are future-ready, socially and ethically engaged, research-active, globally connected and digitally empowered. Successful completion of the course leads to the award of BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities) Apprenticeship, enabling the learner to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The flexibility of the apprenticeship structure enables employers to ‘grow their own’ talent and succession plan effectively while enabling the apprentice to meet all the requirements of the University, the NMC and the Apprenticeship Standards for pre-registration nursing. Employers are also able to maintain their current employee within their role for an overall average of 12 hours a week.

The apprentice gains the knowledge and skills to care for adult patients within a range of community and hospital settings who may have physical, emotional, and social care needs. They develop their emotional intelligence, clinical decision-making and interpersonal skills, and ability to provide high-quality person-centred compassionate nursing in a safe and caring environment. It is also a major step towards an exciting and rewarding career. To be a nurse and to share people’s healthcare experiences, is sometimes very difficult and emotionally demanding, however it is a privilege. It is hard work and challenging, therefore, to work within the healthcare sector it is essential that the apprentice can 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, the apprentice is required to participate in a shift pattern rota, or work weekends and undertake night duties.

Please note, we can only respond to enquiries from employers, or individuals with agreement from their employer to undertake an apprenticeship.

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Course details

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.


Year 3 core 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% (2,310 hours) of the learning time is spent engaging in University or self-managed learning activities (theory) and 50% (2,400 hours) of the time is spent within placement allocations (practice). The remainder of the time is spent working within your contracted job role.

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 assessor 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 must be taken during your contracted job role hours. It is not possible to take holidays during allocated placement or theory hours.

During your 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. Digital competency and learning through digital-based platforms is an important component of the course.

Practice placements are required in a range of healthcare related environments including hospital and community settings, incorporating nursing closer to home, preventative, acute and long-term healthcare provision. This enables you to explore the service users’ journey, nursing and healthcare needs. Throughout your placement allocations you have opportunities to gain experience with client groups from other fields of nursing. This enables you to develop an understanding of the health and nursing needs of people across all fields of practice. Some of these placement opportunities may exist within your current area of employment.

How you are assessed

A variety of assessments are used to measure the apprentice's progress and achievement of module outcomes and practice competencies. Examples include written assignments, reflection, case studies, examinations, poster presentations and projects. They are also assessed in practice each year through a Practice Assessment Document (PAD). Essential practice proficiencies contained within the PAD, linked to the NMC platforms, communication and relationship management skills and nursing procedure skills, must be met for this course.

The 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
  • Coordinating care.

The apprentice will meet with you as the employer and a representative from the University every 12 weeks to review development and identify where support is needed to meet apprenticeship requirements in the workplace. To be awarded the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship apprentices are required to successfully complete all assessment elements and undertake an end-point assessment (EPA).

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


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

To be accepted on to a degree apprenticeship course you must have support from your employer and meet the course entry requirements.

Applicants must:

  • hold Level 2 qualifications in English and maths before starting their apprenticeship. Find out more.
  • have an NVQ level 3 or equivalent
  • be currently, or on entry to the course, employed as an apprentice nurse in a health or care role (full-time)
  • demonstrate the appropriate values and attitudes for the programme in line with the NMC values and behaviours.
  • undertake an interview with their employer and the University, and must have a satisfactory enhanced DBS disclosure.

Those who have undertaken the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship or the Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship may be able to complete the Nursing Studies Degree Apprenticeship in two years.

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

A diverse range of career opportunities are available within the NHS and private sectors in the UK and overseas. This course has been designed to prepare the apprentice for the challenges and demands of contemporary and future nursing, health and social care practice. It also provides a stepping stone for the apprentice to further develop their expertise in the fields of nursing practice, leadership, research, education and consultancy.

Work placement

The range of placements provide diverse and rewarding learning experiences. Placements may not be near to your home or within your local trust or organisation. You are expected to travel to different areas if unable to gain the experience in your area of employment.

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


Professional apprenticeship

An apprenticeship combines vocational work-based learning with study for a university degree. Designed in partnership with employers, apprenticeships offer it all - a higher education qualification, a salary, and invaluable practical experience and employment skills.

Find out more


  • Not available full-time


2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants

More details about our fees

  • Length: 2-4 years plus 6 months end-point assessment
  • Attendance: Blended delivery
  • Start date: September

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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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UK students


Telephone: 01642 384389

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