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Undergraduate study
Nursing Studies (Mental Health) (Pre-Registration) Apprenticeship

Nursing Studies (Mental Health) (Pre-Registration) Apprenticeship BSc (Hons)

This course provides the springboard for apprentices to achieve personal career aspirations to become a registered nurse specialising in mental health nursing.


Degree apprenticeship
Linked Level 6 University award: BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Mental Health)


Course overview

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 (Mental Health) 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 Mental Health Nursing Proficiency: Developing Evidence-based Professional Care and Caring

You build upon your foundations of care and skills proficiency to meet fundamental and complex physical and mental health needs of service users and their families in community and acute care settings.

You develop your understanding of professional nursing practice through seminars, simulated workshops, role play, clinical skill development and mock scenarios, to aid prevention and early identification of risk as well as facilitating actual care needs of the service user.

Throughout the year you are supported in your placement by a practice assessor, practice supervisors and an academic assessor.

Therapeutic Nursing Practice in Mental Health Nursing

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

A case study approach is used to assess, plan, meet and evaluate the therapeutic nursing care needs of people accessing primary, secondary and tertiary care. You examine your role in recovery management, promoting positive health and wellbeing and managing the care of people during relapse/acute episode.
Related pharmacology is applied and explored.


Final-year core modules

Enhanced Person-centred Assessment and Decision Making Skills in Mental Health Nursing

You gain the knowledge, understanding and skills to undertake enhanced holistic assessments of people accessing mental health nursing services. You develop your ability to work in partnership with people experiencing mental health problems, their carers and families across a range of primary, secondary and tertiary care environments. You use a recovery-based and person-centred approach in assessing the needs of people with mental illness, their families and carers.

Skills laboratory sessions allow you to practice assessment skills within a protected learning environment. You further develop your skills and application of learning through supervised practice placements. You critically examine your assessment and decision-making knowledge and skills development, including identification of the evidence supporting your assessment and decision-making practice and conclude with a SMART action plan focusing on your future development.

Enhanced Therapeutic Practice in Mental Health Nursing

You explore complex therapeutic, person-centred decision-making within mental health nursing practice, enabling you to further develop the knowledge and decision-making skills required to proactively manage the health care needs of people accessing mental health nursing services within primary, secondary and tertiary care settings.

You gain the knowledge and skills required to promote evidence-based decision-making, multidisciplinary and multi-agency integrated team working when managing people’s complex care needs. You explore the complexity of contemporary health and social care practice, including how services are delivered, resource management and meeting the individual health and nursing care needs of people and their families and carers. The impact of co-morbidities on health and wellbeing is examined throughout the module. Central to the module is the patient experience and promoting best outcomes.

Enhancing Mental Health Nursing Proficiency: Leading Evidence-based Professional and Caring Practice

You develop your ability to lead and manage care in diverse practice settings. You develop your skills and knowledge of caseload management and leading teams in care delivery for people receiving mental health care, their families and carers. This includes in a practice setting under supervision developing your delegation, prioritisation, decision-making, time management, and teaching and supervising of others using approaches such as coaching.

Key lectures, seminars, independent learning, simulated and practical sessions enable development of skills in leadership and caseload management. This involves demonstrating the ability to make complex decisions in partnership with other relevant health professionals and agencies. You are expected to recognise your role and responsibilities in particular reference to safeguarding and identifying and addressing poor practice. Practical workshops focus on developing your technical and therapeutic skills such as relevant physical health care skills, talking therapies, medication management and preparation for prescribing.

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 and can be arranged within these areas.

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 skill, 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 meets 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 also meet the course entry requirements - you can find these below.

Applicants must:

  • hold Level 2 qualifications in English and maths before starting their apprenticeships. 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 you, as the 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.


Degree apprenticeship

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

Find out more


  • Not available full-time


2023/24 entry

Fee for UK applicants

More details about our fees

  • Length: 2-4 years
  • 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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