University of Chester

Programme Specification
Specialist Practice Community (General Practice Nursing) MSc
2015 - 2016

Master of Science

Specialist Practice Community (General Practice Nursing)

Specialist Practice Community (General Practice Nursing)

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester / Department of Health Education and Training Centre, Isle of Man.

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


Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years

6 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) Standards of Specialist Education and Practice (2001)

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Post-registration Module Assessment Board

Wednesday 1st May 2013

The overarching aim of this programme is to enable students to deliver appropriate health and social care within a dynamic and diverse community environment. 

The specific programme aims are:

  • To facilitate the development of a range of Community Specialist Practitioners, who will be fit for practice, fit for purpose and fit for award.
  • To offer a dynamic and quality postgraduate educational experience relevant to the Specialist Practitioner (General Practice Nursing).
  • To facilitate postgraduates to utilise higher level critical, analytical and reflective skills within academic and practice environments.
  • To enable students to be cognisant of the holistic nature of community care and to gain comprehensive higher level knowledge, expertise and the individual qualities necessary to work as autonomous, competent practitioners within unpredictable professional environments.
  • To enable postgraduates to innovate and apply contributions to the evidence base of practice and communicate conclusions clearly.
  • To continue to develop the students’ skills in collaborative practice and the partnership delivery of care and to consider the impact of their professional role within the organisation and wider context.
  • To provide an understanding of the purpose and principles of public health in relation to specialist practice in community nursing.
  • To develop originality and sound judgement in leadership and facilitation skills, which will enable postgraduates to implement best practice in service delivery.

Knowledge and Understanding

The ability to:

  • Demonstrate the importance of collaboration and participation to their practice.
  • Appraisekey concepts, principles, theories and policies in public, community care and specialist practice.
  • Demonstrate uniqueness of their own specialist practice and the diversity of other roles of specialist practice, and how this can be utilised to empower individuals, groups and communities.
  • Utilise an evidence-based approach to the on-going development of their role and the dissemination of information.
  • Recognisethe application of the research process and relevance to their own scholarship.
  • Demonstrate professional, legal and ethical issues.

 The ability to:

  • Demonstrate self-direction in both formal and informal learning environments.
  • Communicate effectively at both individual and organisational levels.
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of IT.
  • Work autonomously, collaboratively and lead a team.
  • Demonstrate higher literacy and numeracy skills.


Thinking or Cognitive Skills

The ability to:

  • Demonstrate self-direction, independence of thought, and the ability to think logically and critically.
  • Access, analyse and process information applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship.
  • Work autonomously when exercising assessment and diagnostic skills to formulate effective interventions.
  • Utilise higher level analytical skills when evaluating professional work from both the practitioner and service user/carer perspectives.
  • Demonstrate independent learning ability when working as a reflexive and autonomous specialist practitioner.
  • Demonstrate originality when exercising innovative and creative thinking strategies.

Practical Skills

The ability to:

  • Achieve the specific competencies for specialist practice as prescribed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
  • Exercise innovation and personal responsibility when comprehensively applying a range of relevant assessment, intervention and evaluation strategies in the specialist practitioner role.
  • Communicate effectively with individuals, groups and communities.
  • Demonstrate innovation in the application of evidence-based practice.
  • Demonstrate leadership within collaborative, inter-disciplinary working practices and partnerships

Transferable Professional Skills

The ability to:

  • Demonstrate self-direction in both formal and informal learning environments
  • Communicate effectively at both individual and organisational levels
  • Be competent in the use of IT
  • Work autonomously and collaboratively within an inter-professional environment
  • Demonstrate literacy and numeracy skills
  • Apply a problem solving approach to evidence-based decision making
  • Reflect on practice.

Key Skills

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

This postgraduate programme of study is undertaken on a part-time basis. Students who wish to access the programme must have 120 credits at level 6 (or equivalent). They can take a flexible approach to completion and normally have between two and five years to obtain the award. There is an option to exit the programme with a Postgraduate Diploma following the successful completion of 120 credits at level 7. (This must be completed in three years to meet the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) [2001] requirements.)This programme conforms to the NMC (2001) Standards for Specialist Education and Practice.

The programme contains seven modules - five 20 credit modules and two 10 credit modules. 120 level 7 credits may be achieved by the end of the 40 week full time equivalent taught course (which leads to a Postgraduate Diploma Specialist Practice Community award), with an option to achieve a further 60 credits through a dissertation module at level 7 to complete the Masters degree.

The programme comprises 50% theory and 50% practice.  The programme offers a common core of preparation and specific modules. The core modules consist of no less than one third and no more than two thirds of the total programme. All modules have internal integrity and the capacity to be linked to other modules to form a coherent programme of learning. The content of the programme takes into account the need for specialist practitioners to exercise higher levels of judgement, discretion and decision making, focusing on four broad areas:

  • Clinical practice.
  • Care and programme management.
  • Clinical practice development.
  • Clinical practice leadership.

The content also reflects the fact that specialist practice will enable the monitoring and improving of standards of care through supervision of practice, clinical audit, practice development through research, teaching and support of colleagues, and the provision of skilled professional leadership.

The programme is offered on a modular basis and is designed to meet the criteria set by the NMC Specialist Practice Competencies.

Modules are designed and delivered in accordance with the Framework in Higher Education Qualification (FHEQ), using their stated credit level descriptors as a reference point. The programme is equally divided between theoretical study and practice.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM7059 7 Dissertation 60 Comp
NM7104 7 Community Practitioner Nurse Prescribing (V100) 10 Optional
NM7105 7 Leadership, Innovation and Enterprise 20 Comp
NM7107 7 Advancing Specialist Practice Learning Skills Portfolio 10 Comp
NM7109 7 Health Improvement and Wellbeing for Public Health 20 Comp
NM7110 7 Research in Community Practice 20 Comp
NM7111 7 Therapeutic Practice and Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups 20 Comp
NM7116 7 Advanced Specialist Practice Community (General Practice Nursing) 20 Comp
NM7120 7 Advanced Work Related Professional Skills 10 Optional

120 credits for PG Diploma award.
180 credits for MSc award.


Please note, that subject to being granted derogation from the University Regulations, the following will apply to this programme:-

Students must pass every component and module, with a minimum mark of 40% , with the exception of the Community Practitioner Nurse Prescribing module which has a minimum mark of 80% for Section A and 100% for Section B of the examination paper.

The programme is underpinned by the Standards for Specialist Education and Practice (NMC, 2001) 19/6/15

The admission criteria for student entry to the MSc/Postgraduate Diploma Specialist Practice Community programme will normally be:

  • Registration on the appropriate part of the NMC register for their chosen pathway.
  • A minimum of two years' * post-registration experience including one month’s relevant community experience.
  • Successful completion of a degree  in nursing or a health-related field, or equivalent (i.e. 120 credits at level 4, 120 credits at level 5 and 120 credits at level 6, either through study or AP(E)L).
  • Support from the sponsoring trust/organisation.
  • Successful completion of a Mentorship module at level 6.

        All successfully shortlisted applicants will normally be interviewed by at least two interviewers, usually an academic member of the programme team and a Practice Teacher or Service Manager.

*Candidates who do not possess the full two years of experience in the specialist area may exceptionally be admitted to the programme using the following criteria, all of which must be met:

  • Support from sponsoring trust/organisation.
  • Evidence of practice in a closely related area of specialism.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Specialist Practitioner Qualification (SPQ) competencies, Skills for Health. 

Nature and extent of programme:

This programme seeks to provide Postgraduate nurses working in the community setting with a strategy for life-long learning, which enables them to attain an award of Specialist Practice in General Practice Nursing . It is one that sees a strong integration between theory and practice, with practice as the main focus and measure of the role and quality of the Specialist Practitioner. Theory is seen as providing not only the foundation for practice, but also contributing to the generation of practice initiatives. It will also promote the extension of professional roles and therefore the development of a critically reflective and responsive practitioner. 

The curriculum philosophy is a response to a number of professional and government initiatives (DH, 2010; QNI, 2009; RCN, 2013), which have a direct effect on the way professional education should be organised and provided. Specialist Practitioners are defined as leaders within their own clinical area who are able to exercise higher levels of judgement and discretion (NMC 2001). They are expected to supervise and encourage development within others through motivating and supporting change, and by creating an environment in which practice development is fostered, evaluated and disseminated within the appropriate ethical and legal frameworks. 

The programme aims to provide a student-centred, interdisciplinary, dynamic and quality educational experience that will be instrumental in changing and developing nursing practice, and in producing practitioners who will be leaders of their profession.


Department of Health (2010) Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS: Accessed 17th January 2013 

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2001) Standards for specialist education and practice. Retrieved 18th January 2013 from:

Queens Nursing Institute (2009) 20/20 Vision QNI, London 

Royal College of Nursing (2013) General Practice Nursing Career Framework : ttp:// Accessed 21st January 2013

Students will experience a variety of teaching and learning methods designed to facilitate the achievement of all learning outcomes within a student-centred approach, and to foster personal and professional development. Each module will utilise a mix of teaching methods, which take account of the subject matter, the student group size, the students’ previous experience and the resources available. Methods of learning and teaching will include formal lectures, scenario-based learning sessions, problem-based learning, tutorials, seminars, presentations and debates, reflection, practice-based workshops, practice in skills labs, learning through practice, directed study, private study sessions, and e-learning packages. Self directed, inter-professional and peer learning are learning and teaching methods used.

The student experience will be enhanced by the use of critical reflection. A number of modules are assessed using real scenarios generated from the practice setting which facilitate the integration of theory and practice, thus promoting the development of critical decision-making and problem-solving skills. This will encourage the development of lifelong learning, which builds to form a practice learning skills portfolio for the programme. The practice learning skills portfolio will focus on the further development of the students’ reflective skills, with a specific section devoted to reflection on learning in, as well as on, practice. Students will thus be placed at the centre of the learning experience, and are expected to assume responsibility for their own educational development. 

Problem-based learning is included as a teaching and learning strategy within the programme. The approach adopted within the Faculty of Health and Social Care is termed ’scenario-generated learning’ and this will be used as a strategy for learning and teaching within the programme. The future aim is for all modules to be taught as mixed mode, where students have access to learning materials through e-learning in varying proportions from fully taught with supporting materials to full use of electronic materials with minimal taught content.

Methods of learning and teaching will emphasise student-centred techniques. This will facilitate the student to become an autonomous learner, able to identify their own learning needs and goals within the parameters of the programme aims and outcomes, which will require the student to actively identify and engage with specific learning outcomes pertinent to their area of community practice. The student will also be expected to identify and negotiate acceptable methods of evidencing the achievement of the learning outcomes.

Inter-professional learning across a range of modules is actively encouraged, with 'breakout' workshops to ensure that the specific application to the professional pathway is maintained. Examples and scenarios are drawn from a range of professional areas to ensure application to specialist practice.  Visiting lecturers and nationally recognised expert professionals are invited to participate in a number of themed sessions within the programme, in order to provide contemporary perspectives within practice.  

Mentors/ Practice Teachers will undertake student assessment in practice, with support from the lecturing staff of the Faculty. A designated SPC Mentor/ Practice Teacher will be allocated to each student and will assess the student’s progress and competence within a structured framework including a mid-way progress report and collaboration with other clinical staff. The student has the responsibility of completing their Practice Learning Skills Portfolio with the assessor, taking an active role in setting up progress meetings and working alongside the Mentor/ Practice Teacher to ensure the assessment of practice is possible. 

A designated Skills Week has been timetabled into the programme to allow students to practice learn in a supported environment with pathway specific clinical skills (Module 'Advancing Specialist Practice Learning Skills Portfolio') .

Students will be exposed to a variety of assessment methods designed to ensure that the content, outcomes and level of the modules are measured in a fair and transparent manner. Examples include assignments, seminar presentations, individual case studies and reflective accounts. Knowledge and understanding will be tested through written assignments, seminar presentations and individual case studies. Intellectual skills will be assessed normally through course work, and students will be asked to demonstrate thinking and cognitive ability through written coursework assignments, seminar presentations, individual case studies and reflective accounts. All aspects of the assessment strategy will be used to evaluate transferable/key skills and, where relevant, mapped against national benchmarks.

The practice element of the course will be assessed by the Practice Learning Skills Portfolio, individual case study, user feedback, seminar presentations, reflective accounts, oral examination, and direct observation by lecturers, colleagues and peers. 

The programme clearly offers students the opportunity to achieve the characteristics of a postgraduate and it is assessment criteria based upon QAA (2008) and University of Chester documents which define these characteristics:

Assessment Element

Postgraduate Criteria
Reasoning Demonstrate critical reasoning with regard to complex issues, which shows an ability to explore and develop alternative solutions.
Knowledge Critical evaluation of key concepts of knowledge. Extensive systematic reading and demonstration of insight and originality.
Theory/Practice link Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of relevant knowledge and applicable techniques which are at the forefront of professional practice.
Analysis Demonstrate synthesis and be able to deal with complex issues in an original manner.
Problem solving Demonstrate a systematic understanding and critical awareness of current and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of professional knowledge and practice.
Evaluating evidence and argument Ability to deploy accurately, creatively and imaginatively established techniques of analysis and enquiry.
Reaching sound judgements Ability to critically evaluate current research, methodology and scholarship and, where appropriate, propose new hypotheses.
Communicating Excellent communication skills which can reach a wider audience.

The above criteria demonstrating the notion of a postgraduate are fundamental to the role of professionals working within the field associated with the strategic planning and operationalisation of general practice nursing practice. It is envisaged that students who successfully complete the programme will utilise these criteria to become leaders and innovators.

Professionals who complete this programme will have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of general practice nursing. They will have the knowledge and skills necessary to assess needs of individuals, groups and populations, and to plan, re-design, implement and evaluate interventions to meet their health needs. Students will also have gained an in-depth understanding of inter-professional and inter-agency working, in addition to partnership working with those who live with a long term condition.

It is anticipated that postgraduates exiting with this qualification will be equipped to provide leadership and management in the implementation of the national and local agendas relating to general practice nursing specialist practice. The level of expertise gained will enable participants to lead and manage specialist community and social care teams. Postgraduates are therefore expected to be at the forefront of contemporary clinical practice in the community setting, and to offer leadership and clinical direction in their chosen professional arena.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The Masters programme is not designed as a continuation programme and is therefore mutually exclusive.

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