University of Chester

Programme Specification
Health and Social Care (Assistant Practitioner) FDS
2015 - 2016

Foundation Science Degree

Health and Social Care (Assistant Practitioner)

Health and Social Care (Assistant Practitioner) [2014 curriculum]

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester sites as determined by the Faculty of Health and Social Care

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years

5 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

Foundation Degree qualification benchmark

Health and Social Care Undergraduate Module Assessment Board

Wednesday 4th June 2014

  • Prepare students to work effectively and safely within their defined area of practice, under the instruction and supervision of a registered practitioner within relevant legal and ethical frameworks and in accordance with agreed protocols.
  • Develop and promote the skills of critical, analytical and reflective thinking in students.
  • Promote the ethos of lifelong learning and advance students' sense of personal responsibility, accountability and commitment to their ongoing education and development.
  • Prepare students to work inter-professionally as a member of a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Ensure that Assistant Practitioner students are able to respond to the constantly changing context within which health and social care policies are being implemented.
  • Develop an appreciation that knowledge and understanding is acquired within an evidence-based framework.
  • Help students to recognise that learning can occur in both education and practice environments and assist them to exploit the relationship between them.

Students should be able to:

  • Understand the basis of human physiology.
  • Apply the principles of effective communication in a variety of settings.
  • Identify and discuss key legal, ethical and professional principles and their relation to health care practice.
  • Analyse relevant learning theories to inform reflective practice.
  • Explore the nature of altered physiology and its impact upon health.
  • Appreciate importance and impact of public health policy.
  • Examine theories of leadership management and their application in the practice setting.
  • Analyse theories of learning, teaching and assessment and their application in practice settings.
  • Critically explore relevant psychological explanations for human behaviours.
  • Acquire discipline specific knowledge and understanding as identified in option module learning outcomes.

Students should be able to:

  • Evaluate problem-solving skills to a range of practice situations.
  • Reflect on their experience and their contribution to the broader learning context.
  • Consider and question own value base and how this impacts upon attitudes and behaviour.
  • Apply and analyse relevant knowledge to inform practice.
  • Analyse and reflect on learning experiences.
  • Apply the skills of intellectual argument.

Practical Skills:

Students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate the need to seek supervision as appropriate.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of their communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Identify and apply appropriate protocols and care packages.
  • Demonstrate safe practice, as identified in Work Based Competency Record.
  • Evaluate and reflect on the limits of their knowledge and skills.
  • Apply the principles of learning, teaching and assessment in the practice setting.
  • Demonstrate inter professional learning.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work within given protocols.

Transferable Professional Skills:

The programme is designed to develop an effective, safe and accountable Assistant Practitioner. The relationship between theory and practice is transparent in the programme aims, module learning outcomes and in the Personal Development Profiles.

Students should be able to communicate their ability to:

  • Manage time effectively.
  • Apply problem solving skills to routine situations.
  • Evaluate their use of information technology, literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Understand and analyse the dynamics of collaborative learning and working.
  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively within own teams and adhere to protocols.
  • Demonstrate ability to use local procedures and protocols when resolving issues that may arise.

The level 4 modules include a range of foundation modules which identify relevant material from the theory of science, health and social care policy, care practice, psychology and sociology. Students are also introduced to the concepts of evidence-based practice and reflection. These are important themes that underpin all other modules. The emphasis is on inter-professional learning, teaching and assessment.

Towards the end of level 4, students are assisted in selecting option modules that reflect both personal interest and anticipated role development.

All students at level 5 study the core modules Public Health and Health Promotion in Practice; Leadership, Management, and Learning in Practice; The Assessment Process in Practice and Legal, Ethical and Accountable Practice.

Each option module is delivered in an inter-professional manner, and it is anticipated that it will assist the student/trainee Assistant Practitioner in their future role development. For example, Leadership, Management, and Learning in Practice will assist in developing junior students, and provide the Assistant Practitioner with leadership skills for use at every level in NHS trust and social care organisations. At level 5 each student will have the opportunity to complete an open: work based module. This module facilitates the students in obtaining specific skills that the workforce requires, as it is compiled by the student/trainee Assistant Practitioner, clinical manager of the trust, and the student's lecturer.

Students may exit the programme on successful completion of level 4 modules to a total of 120 credits with a Certificate in Higher Education.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM4017 4 Principles of Care Practice 20 Comp
NM4018 4 Biological Basis of Health 20 Comp
NM4019 4 Introduction to Sociology and Psychology in Context 20 Comp
NM4045 4 Assistant Practitioner: Underpinning Philosophies of Health and Social Care 20 Comp
NM4046 4 Study Skills, Accountability, and Working in a Professional Environment 40 Comp
NM5076 5 Public Health and Health Promotion in Practice 20 Comp
NM5077 5 Legal, Ethical and Accountable Practice 20 Comp
NM5078 5 Leadership, Management and Learning in Practice 20 Comp
NM5087 5 The Assessment Process in Practice 20 Comp
NM5093 5 Drug Awareness 20 Optional
NM5096 5 Open: Work based module 20 Optional
NM5097 5 Open: Work based module 20 Optional
NM5098 5 Long Term Conditions and their Management in Practice 20 Optional
NM5099 5 Working with Vulnerable Groups 20 Optional

120 credits at level 4, 120 credits at level 5 = 240 credits for full award

Entry requirements will be ONE of the following (or equivalent):

  • NVQ Level 3 in Care or related subject.
  • A/S Level: 2 A/S levels, one of which must be in an appropriate subject area.
  • A Levels: 1 A level in an appropriate subject area.
  • AVCE or BTEC National Diploma.
  • Access: a pass from an appropriate kite-marked access course.
  • 5 GCSEs at Grade C or above including English Language.
  • Portfolio of evidence which demonstrates ability/ potential to work and study at level 4.

Candidates will be required to demonstrate appropriate literacy and numeracy skills during their interview.

Each applicant will be interviewed. The interview will focus on personal qualities and skills looked for in addition to the formal academic requirements. Where it is felt that the applicant is not yet ready to undertake this programme of study, a ‘return to learn' course will be advised. Applicants will be required to have a satisfactory reference, and will be required to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau check and Occupational Health Check if the applicant is not currently employed within the NHS. The minimum age of a student at the start of the award is 18 years.

A qualification benchmark describes the distinctive features of an individual qualification at a particular level (AQQ, 2010). With regard to Foundation Degrees, core characteristics include:

•    Partnership and employer involvement
•    Assessment, monitoring and review
•    Accessibility
•    Articulation and progression
•    Flexibility
•    Knowledge, understanding and skills

The Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care (Assistant Practitioner), through working in partnership with Health Education North West and local Health and Social care organisations, secured employer involvement when developing and reviewing the programme by seeking and responding to expressed need. For example in 2013/ 14, local employers have requested that Assistant Practitioners are now required to work in the community setting and to achieve this, particular clinical skills (such as medicine management) will be required. Modules relating to medicines have been incorporated into the programme and the same modules can be updated or changed through selecting the open-work- based programme. Employers are further involved in the assessment of modules through the requirement of a work-based mentor.

The programme aims to be flexible through incorporating both core and option modules. Whilst core modules ensure that each student meets the National Standards for Assistant practitioners; and facilitates progression to level 6 programmes, option modules ensures that each student has the knowledge, understanding and skills to work as an Assistant Practitioner within a designated area of health and social care.

As identified in the entry criteria, students can access the programme through utilising traditional or non-traditional qualifications. Having a wide entry criteria ensures that students with the appropriate vocational experience can access the programme; yet the programme does not preclude the student who has traditional academic qualifications.

Whilst the QAA identify the distinctive characteristics of a Foundation Degree programme, professional standards have also informed the programme seen in the competency statements which appear in the students’ Work Based Competency Record (WBCR).

Students experience a variety of teaching and learning methods designed to facilitate the achievement of all learning outcomes and to foster personal and professional development.

Each module utilises 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.
  • Seminars, presentations and debates.
  • Scenario-based learning.
  • Individual and group work tasks.
  • E-learning/blended learning.
  • Learning through practice.
  • Tutorials - individual and group.
  • Discussion groups.
  • Private study sessions.
  • Directed study.
  • Audio-visual material.
  • Inter professional learning through group work, visiting lecturers.

Internet technology is used to support learning using the University's virtual learning environment (Moodle). The students will be encouraged to increase their use of web-based learning materials, email and on-line discussion boards. Directed and independent study can be done at anytime and anywhere that the student has access to the internet, and they can communicate easily with tutors and fellow students.

The programme team will invite health and social care practitioners, and other relevant personnel, such as managers, service users and carers to contribute to programme delivery.

The programme team will ensure that where material from a different module to the one being taught is directly relevant, the students' attention will be drawn to this connection.

The curriculum is designed to provide a developmental approach to the student learning experience. The programme structure rationale outlines the way in which students are able to build on previous learning.

The use of reflection is an important aspect of both the taught programme and practical element. Reflection is defined as ‘serious thought' about a topic, an incident, behaviour or situation, and can be used to facilitate the application of theory to practice. As a learning tool reflection has the following characteristics. Reflection:

  • is focused on action.
  • is meditative.
  • facilitates learning.
  • is personal.
  • is organised.

The value of reflection in education and training is that it provides a structured process for exploring the evidence upon which practice is based and, for the student, ensures that practice experience becomes a vehicle for learning.

Assessment strategy

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.

The assessment strategies employed throughout the programme are designed to ensure that students are exposed to a mix of assessment methods measuring both academic and clinical competence. Assessment methods include reports, presentations, short answer exams, case studies, projects, peer observations and reviews.

The assessment of the practical learning outcomes for those modules with a practical element will appear in the Work Based Competency Record (WBCR). This record will demonstrate the student's progression and development throughout the programme on a clinical level. The record comprises information on the following elements:

  • Competency statements.
  • Portfolio building.
  • Learning log.
  • Personal development documentation.

An identified mentor will carry out assessment in practice with support from the lecturing staff of the Faculty and designated work based education facilitator (WBEF). The student has the responsibility of completing learning plans with the mentor and/or WBEF, taking an active role in setting up progress meetings and working alongside the WBEF to ensure that assessment of their practice is possible.

Typically, students completing level 5 will be able to demonstrate:

  • Interprofessional learning, assessment and working practices.
  • Knowledge and critical understanding of the well-established principles in their field of study and the way in which those principles have developed.
  • Ability to apply underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they were first studied, and the application of those principles in a work context.
  • Knowledge of the main methods of enquiry in their subjects, and ability to evaluate critically the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems in their field of study and to apply these in a work context.
  • An understanding of the limits of their knowledge, and how this influences analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge in their field of study and in a work context.
  • An increased sense of self confidence.

and will be able to:

  • Use a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake analysis of information, and to propose solutions to problems arising from that analysis in their field of study and in a work context.
  • Effectively communicate information, arguments, and analysis, in a variety of forms, to specialist and non-specialist audiences, and deploy key techniques of the discipline effectively in their field of study and in a work context.
  • Undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competencies that will enable them to assume responsibility within organisations.

and will possess:

  • Qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment as an Assistant Practitioner and progression to other qualifications requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making.

This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and ensure the diverse needs of all our students are well provided. No student will be disadvantaged on the basis of age; disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation.

The programme team aim to put the needs of each individual learner at the heart of the provision, and to establish a culture where learners are encouraged to disclose their disabilities and differences and where equality and diversity is routinely celebrated. All marketing is designed to be free from any form of discrimination, and to encourage students from all backgrounds to contact us.

In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met, any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed. All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.

All student needs are identified during initial assessment, induction and enrolment, and the appropriate support is provided through our Learning Support team.

For those Assistant Practitioners wishing to continue their studies to honours level, the Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care (Assistant Practitioner) aims to articulate with a range of professional and non-professional programmes. However, each university, and programmes within that university, have their own procedures with regard to accrediting prior learning. It is also noted that the fundamental aim of the programme is to provide the student with the required academic and practical knowledge to gain employment as an Assistant Practitioner (AP). As indicated within the career framework, the AP will require factual and theoretical knowledge in broad contexts within a field of work.

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