University of Chester

Programme Specification
Return to Practice (Nursing) level 5
2014 - 2015

No Formal Award

Return to Practice (Nursing) level 5

Return to Practice (Nursing) level 5

University of Chester

University of Chester

Sites as determined by the Faculty of Health and Social Care, including Wirral, Chester (Riverside), Leighton, Warrington; Department of Health Education and Training Centre, Isle of Man; States of Jersey Health and Social Services.

Professional/ Specialist/ Community/ Advanced Practice (Nursing & Midwifery)


Classroom / Laboratory,

4-12 months

1 Years

Biannual - February - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC 2011) Standards for post-registration education and practice (PREP).

Quality Assurance Agency (2008) The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Gloucester: QAA. (Subject benchmark standards for healthcare programmes: Nursing)

Nursing and Midwifery Council: professional accreditation leading to re-registration on the appropriate part(s) of the register.

Return to Practice

Tuesday 1st May 2012

The programme aims to enable students to renew registration on part 1 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register and re-enter practice with up to date theoretical knowledge, practical skills and competencies that will underpin the delivery of modern, safe and effective nursing. The programme takes account of all the relevant professional and academic benchmarks in order to achieve this.

The programme promotes shared learning with and between the four fields of nursing included in the nurses' part of the register (part 1).

The aim is to:

  • Offer a dynamic and quality learning experience that enables students to become a proficient, confident, safe and accountable nurse underpinned by robust professional values and a rigorous evidence base.
  • Prepare students to achieve fitness for re-registration and to return to competent professional practice.
  • Develop and promote skills of analytical and reflective thinking in students to support their decision making in complex and unpredictable contexts
  • Promote the ethos of lifelong learning and advance students' sense of personal responsibility and commitment to their on-going education and development at level 5 study and beyond.

Knowledge and Understanding

The ability to:

  • Discuss current issues and key principles, theories and policies in nursing.
  • Analyse the influence of health and social policy impacting on the structure, organisation and delivery of health care.
  • Demonstrate an evidence-based approach to the ongoing development of their role and the dissemination of information.
  • Analyse professional, legal and ethical issues relevant to nursing practice.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

The ability to:
  • Demonstrate independence of thought, and the ability to think logically and critically.
  • Recognise and respond to policy initiatives at individual, local and national levels.
  • Access, analyse and process evidence-based information applicable to practice.
  • Utilise analytical skills when evaluating professional work from both professional and service user perspectives.
  • Demonstrate a reflective approach to continuing professional development.
  • Appraise own learning needs as a reflective practitioner.

Practical Skills

The ability to:
  • Achieve a range of appropriate practice, teaching and learning skills relevant to their role.
  • Identify and assess need, design and implement interventions, and evaluate outcomes in all relevant areas of practice, including the delivery of appropriate emergency care.
  • Communicate effectively with individuals, groups and communities.
  • Demonstrate evidence-based practice.
  • Demonstrate the ability to function effectively in a team and participate in a multi-professional approach to care.

Key Skills
  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

Students accessing the Return to Practice Level 5 (Nursing) programme will develop into autonomous learners and will acquire key skills required for successful completion of the programme and re-registration as a nurse. These key skills will be transferable and applicable to a variety of health care environments:
  • Communication: Effective communication skills will be inherent in the programme.
  • Application of number: Students accessing the programme will be working at a level that requires them to be numerate and literate as indicated by the NMC (NMC, 2010). Examples in clinical practice are drug calculations, clinical measurements, audit and statistical analysis.
  • Information technology: The students' IT skills should be such as to enable them to access the University intranet, bibliographical databases and the internet for academic and clinical studies, use the library effectively, and perform literature searches and reviews. Their existing skills will be enhanced in the library induction and information skill session at the beginning of the programme, which will be specific to the University resources. The facilities of the wider University will also be open to the student. The students' IT skills will normally be evidenced in the production of a word-processed assignment.
  • Improving own learning and performance: The programme is designed to facilitate the student in their development on both a personal and professional level. This will be evidenced and assessed through written and practice-based work.
  • Working with others: The student's ability to work with others will be demonstrated in both the classroom and clinical areas.
  • Problem solving: This area will be demonstrated through the reflective analysis of practice.

Transferable Professional Skills

The programme fosters many transferable skills. These may be considered under Key Skills above, but also from the professional practice which the practitioner on the programme experiences.

The programme is informed by the validation requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the University of Chester. It will be delivered twice a year.

The programme consists of one 20 credit module available at level 5, comprising both theory and practice. The module has 200 hours of associated learning activity. These credits may be integrated into a diploma or degree programme, for example BSc (Hons) Professional Practice, should the student wish.

This flexible programme will be delivered over a maximum of 12 months. This is to facilitate the achievement of the practical component of the programme and to allow the student two attempts at completing the assessment. Only two attempts will be allowed for assessment of practice. The theoretical component will be partly delivered in a structured, taught mode to facilitate tutor and peer support and guidance within a safe environment, and partly by individually negotiated learning in order to meet specific student needs.

The exact length and nature of the programme for each student will be negotiated with them individually, using a 'needs assessment' and will take into account their registration history, previous levels of knowledge and experience, and any relevant experience undertaken while they have been out of practice (NMC 2011). However, the student must undertake a minimum of 100 hours of clinical experience in order to facilitate the achievement of their clinical learning outcomes.  There will be a limit of 300 hours for clinical experience in order to structure the timing of the clinical assessments to facilitate two attempts if required.

Placements are offered in most areas of practice. Time spent in the clinical area is based on each student’s needs, but is a minimum of 100 hours for all fields with the exception of Health visiting (HV). Within HV there are guidelines which can been found at There is a minimum of 150 hrs practice to a maximum of 450 hrs dependent on the length of time the RTP student HV has not been registered. The practice placement will be with a Health Visitor

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM5300 5 Return to Practice (Nursing) 20 Comp

20 credits at level 5 enable the student to return to the relevant part of the NMC register.
Please note that having been granted derogation from the University regulations, the following applies to this programme:
Students must pass every component and module, with a minimum mark of 40%.

Previous registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council on the part(s) of the register to which the student intends to return to practice.

The student should be able to demonstrate the ability to study the programme at level 5, including demonstration of literacy and numeracy skills.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requires that where candidates are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), results from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) are accepted as evidence of literacy. The scores must be at least 7.0 in the listening and reading sections, and at least 7.0 in the writing and speaking sections, and where the overall average scores is at least 7.0.

Nursing is both mentally and physically demanding, and the good character and health of all successful applicants will be assessed to establish fitness to undertake nurse education. A Criminal Records Bureau Enhanced Disclosure is carried out on all successful candidates. Two references are required from appropriate sources; where possible one of these should be from an academic or employment source. The Occupational Health department examines and assesses the health of all candidates to ensure that they are physically fit to commence nurse education. In addition, each candidate must be declared 'fit' in accordance with the Clothier report recommendations. This is normally done via a letter from the candidates' GP.

The following benchmarks have been mapped into the programme to ensure that national and professional regulatory quality frameworks have been met:

  • Standards for Post-registration Education and Practice (PREP) (NMC 2011) (
  • Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (QAA, 2008) (

These benchmark standards represent the general expectations of standards required at a given academic level, and articulate the knowledge and skills that should be demonstrated by someone who wishes to re-register on parts 1 and 3 of the NMC register.

The PREP Standard requires a nurse to meet set criteria in order to renew their registration every three years or, where this is not possible, to undertake an approved return to practice course instead.

By the end of level 5 studies students are able to:

  • Review, consolidate and extend a systematic and coherent body of knowledge.
  • Analyse new concepts and evidence from a range of sources.
  • Transfer and apply diagnostic and creative skills, and exercise significant judgement in a range of situations.

The level of the module outcomes demonstrates appropriate levels of taxonomy for the level of study, as do the contact and study hours. The national initiative with regard to Key Skills is taken into account.

The composition of the planning team ensured that there were members with experience of external consultancy and external examining, which is invaluable in quality assuring the programme against national benchmarks and expectations. The validation process also ensures that experts from other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) were fully involved in the scrutiny and validation process, further assuring the comparability of the programme with other HEIs.

A variety of methods of teaching and learning will be employed to meet core subject and students individual needs. These will include formal lectures, scenario-based learning sessions, tutorials, seminars, action learning sets, presentations and debates, reflection, and case discussions, practice-based workshops, directed study, private study sessions, and e-learning packages.

The aim is for the programme to be taught as a blended mode, where students have access to learning materials through e-learning in varying proportions from fully taught with reference to supporting materials, to predominant use of electronic materials with guided taught content.

Scenario-based learning will be used for learning and teaching within the programme through the use of real scenarios from health care settings, which facilitates integration of theory and practice, promotion of decision-making and problem-solving skills, and encourages lifelong learning.

Methods of learning and teaching will emphasise student-centred techniques. This will facilitate the student to become an increasingly autonomous learner, able to identify their own learning needs and goals within the parameters of the programme aims and outcomes. This will require the student to actively identify and negotiate specific personal learning outcomes within the parameters of the module learning outcomes.

Formative feedback will be available in both practice placement settings and the classroom environment, and this will be used as a learning tool.

Students will be summatively assessed through a practice assessment document and a portfolio of evidence. The documents will demonstrate that the student has met the programme learning outcomes in theory and practice.

Formative assessment will be by a review of progress toward theoretical and practice learning outcomes at the intermediate assessment point.

Completion of this programme allows the student to re-register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council on the part of the register to which the practitioner intends to return, and thereafter engage in professional nursing.

The programme offers students the opportunity to achieve the following characteristics, based upon QAA and University of Chester documents which define these characteristics at level 5:


Demonstrate reasoning with regard to at least some complex issues, showing an ability to explore alternative solutions.


Acquisition of accurate knowledge which is informed by current literature and research. Demonstration of appropriate reading. Competent discussion of subjects.


Understanding of principles and theories that inform practice. Analysis of literature and research in context. Understanding of major issues demonstrated by clear explanation. Appreciation of the limits of knowledge and its impact on their own understanding. Ability to formulate an informed opinion on relevant issues.

Theory/practice link

Demonstrate a  good understanding of relevant knowledge, and applicable techniques when in clinical practice. Able to apply knowledge and understanding to manage care, and work competently in and lead a team. Demonstrate the application of key relevant principles such as accountability in practice. Accept significant responsibility within organisations.


Demonstrate analysis and the ability to deal with issues competently.


Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of insight resulting from current professional knowledge and practice, and use it to problem solve in theory and practice.

Evaluating evidence and argument

Ability to deploy established techniques of analysis and enquiry.

Reaching sound judgements

Ability to evaluate current research, methodology and scholarship.


Good communication skills evident using a range of techniques appropriate to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

This programme fully embraces the University's commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. The University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students. The ultimate objectives of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society, and that all students can participate in programme activities to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for, and has been developed and will be delivered with this in mind.

Students on this programme will receive support and guidance from academic staff of the Faculty, clinical staff in practice and the support mechanisms of the wider University:

  1. Academic support and assessment guidance from the module leader.
  2. Support throughout from the programme leader.
  3. Support and guidance from a nominated person within the supporting organisation.
  4. Student Support and Guidance, available to all University of Chester students.
  5. The programme handbook, available on SharePoint (the University intranet).
  6. Module handbooks that give more specific details than are contained in the module descriptor e.g. specific breakdown of content including timetabled sessions, and an updated illustrative reading list to ensure that recommended reading remains relevant and current.
  7. Module descriptors, timetables and associated learning materials, e.g. learning packs, accessible via SharePoint.

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