University of Chester

Programme Specification
Learning Disability MN
2014 - 2015

Master of Nursing

Learning Disability

Learning Disability

University of Chester

University of Chester

As determined by the Faculty of Health and Social Care, including Wirral, Chester (Riverside), Leighton, Warrington and the Isle of Man campuses.

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


Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

6 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Standards for pre-registration nursing education (NMC, 2010). Nursing Education: European Directive 2005/36/EC.

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).

Quality Assurance Agency (2010) Masters degree characteristics. Gloucester:QAA.

 National Qualifications Framework.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Pre-registration Nursing Module Assessment Board

Tuesday 1st November 2011

The programme aims to provide professional nurse education which takes account of all the relevant professional and academic benchmarks, producing nurses who must act first and foremost to care for and safeguard the public. They must practice autonomously and be responsible and accountable for safe compassionate person-centred, evidence-based nursing that respects and maintains dignity and human rights (NMC 2010). In the spirit of the new standards, this programme promotes shared learning, with and between fields. The programme is predominantly generic, with field specific application of both theory and practice. The programme aims to enable students to:

  • Undertake a dynamic and quality educational experience by providing a learning environment that promotes flexibility and creativity underpinned by evidence based practice
  • Become a proficient, confident, safe and accountable nurse underpinned by professional values and a rigorous evidence base.
  • Develop mastery in the skills of critical, analytical and reflective thinking.
  • Engage with the ethos of life-long learning advancing their sense of personal responsibility and commitment to their on-going education and development.
  • Become a competent professional practitioner who is fit for practice through promotion of practice-centred learning and the integration of evidence based theory and practice.
  • Equip them to provide high quality care in many different health and social care environments, with an understanding of the way in which people's lifestyles, environments and the location of care delivery, influence their health and wellbeing and to appreciate the distinctiveness of adult, children and young people, learning disability and mental health nursing.
  • Deliver complex care to service users in their field of practice, working in partnership with a variety of agencies and health care professionals.
  • Be proactive in recognising the need for change in the working environment and contribute to innovations and research based change 
  • Understand and respond appropriately to constantly changing service delivery requirements.
  • Act with professionalism and integrity, and work within ethical and legal frameworks.
  • Develop leadership skills, including the ability to exercise initiative and decision-making in complex, enduring and unpredictable contexts.
  • Develop key transferable skills in the context of local, national, international and global health care delivery.
  • Engage in the world of work by acquiring the necessary skills valued highly by employers, and/or to establish enterprise and entrepreneurial acumen.
  • Develop into an autonomous practitioner who is able to supervise and manage others in the delivery of care. 
  • Develop and promote skills of synthesis, critical and analytical thinking and develop this in others.

Knowledge and Understanding

The ability to:

  • Critically discuss key concepts, principles, theories and policies in health and social care.
  • Critically review the uniqueness of their own role and the diversity of other inter-disciplinary roles, and how they can be utilised to empower individuals, groups and communities.
  • Demonstrate an evidence-based approach to the ongoing development of their role and the dissemination of information.
  • Application of the research process with relevance to their own scholarship
  • Critically analyse professional, legal and ethical issues

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

The ability to:
  • Demonstrate self-direction,independence of thought, and the ability to think logically and critically.
  • Recognise, critically evaluate and respond to policy initiatives at individual, local and national levels.
  • Access, critically analyse and process evidence-based information applicable to practice.
  • Utilise higher level analytical skills when evaluating professional work from both professional and service user perspectives.
  • Work autonomously when exercising a range of assessment tools to support care delivery
  • Demonstrate a reflective approach to continuing professional development.
  • Critically appraise own learning needs as a reflexive practitioner.
  • Demonstrate originality when exercisinginnovative and creative thinking strategies.

Practical Skills

The ability to:
  • Achieve a range of appropriate practice skills relevant to their role.
  • Apply safely a range of relevant assessment, intervention and evaluation strategies in their role.
  • Communicate effectively with individuals, groups and communities.
  • Demonstrate innovation and utilisation of change management strategies in the application of evidence-based practice.
  • Demonstrate collaborative, interdisciplinary working practices and partnerships through effective leadership.
  • Demonstrate effective profiling skills

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

Students accessing theMasters of Nursing programme will develop into autonomous learners and will acquire key skills required for successful completion of the programme and registration as a UK registered nurse. These key skills will be developed further throughout the programme with the aim to create clearly evident transferability and application to a variety of health care environments.
  • Communication: Effective communication skills will be inherent in all the modules.
  • 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 clinical measurements, audit and statistical analysis and work load activities. These skills will be built upon throughout the programme, particularly in the research and evidence-based modules and health care management related subjects.
  • 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. Study skills sessions are held at the beginning of each academic year and the services of the Learning Support Tutor will be available at other times. The students' IT skills will normally be evidenced in the production of word-processed assignments.
  • Improving own learning and performance: The entire programme is designed to facilitate the student in their development on both personal and professional levels. 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, and evidenced in the learning and achievement portfolio.
  • Problem solving: This area will be developed in all modules and will be demonstrated through the reflective analysis of practice.
The programme ensures that students are facilitated in their development of key skills in all fields of nursing, especially in the core modules.

Transferable Professional Skills

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

The programme is informed by the validation requirements of the NMC and University of Chester, and adheres to the statutory requirements and guidance published in the NMC's Standards for pre-registration nursing education (NMC, 2010), and within the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (QAA, 2008 & 2010), and the European Directive 2005/36/EC. This pre-registration nursing programme meets the required hours stipulated by the NMC (NMC 2010), which is no less than three years or 4,600 hours (of which 2,300 of these hours are practice learning hours) and there is an equal 50:50 ratio of theory and practice hours.

The programme has been constructed to ensure that nursing students can demonstrate the standards for competence and the related competences at level 7, as required to register at the first level on the nurses' part of the register in either the adult, children's, learning disability or mental health nursing fields. The programme will therefore ensure that those qualifying are fit for practice, purpose, award and professional standing, and thus for registration as a nurse with the NMC. Student nurses will acquire the generic and field specific standards for competence, and the generic and field specific competencies required to obtain the basic skills necessary to meet all people's essential needs and the complex skills required to nurse in their specific field.

The programme is innovative as there are no distinct theory field modules; instead, each module is constructed with a balance of both generic and field application content. The percentage of generic or field application varies across each year. The aim is to have an increased percentage of field application in the skills and nursing modules, so that the second and third year modules will have greater field application. The programme is designed in this way so that field is applied within generic modules to enable students to meet the essential and immediate needs of all people and the complex needs of people in their chosen field.

Both theory and practice learning outcomes are related to generic and field specific competencies throughout the programme. Generic and field specific learning commences at the beginning of the programme and continues throughout the three years. Theory and practice learning outcomes throughout the programme take account of the essential physical and mental health needs of all people, including babies, children and young people, pregnant and postnatal women, adults and older people. The nursing programme also meets the learning outcomes for theoretical and clinical instruction required of EU Directive 2005/36/EC Annex V.2 (5.2.1).

The programme comprises three distinct and equal parts with two specific progression points, which occur at the end of year 1 and the end of year 2. All students must complete the academic requirements for each year to be able to progress to the subsequent year. The programme has been granted derogation from the University regulations, and so students will have two attempts only at each practice assessment record.  All students must pass every component and module, with a minimum mark of 40%. Each module is worth 20 credits with 200 hours of associated teaching and learning activity, with the addition of 25 contact hours specifically related to meeting the profession specific NMC requirements. In each year there is a practice learning module. Modules are designed and delivered in accordance with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) using their stated level descriptors as a reference point. The programme is linked to a Higher Education accreditation system, with existing mechanisms for the award of credit for appropriate learning and prior experiential learning. The modules have internal integrity and are linked together to form a coherent programme of learning, and this denotes their normal sequencing.

All modules have core competencies with field specific application, and an increasing field focus as progression through each year and level of study is achieved. Year 1 consists of one module at degree level, which will provide the foundation of underpinning nursing knowledge and skills (of which students will be able to apply for AP(E)L), and three level 7 theory modules, which are underpinned by a fifth practice-based module. This year long module comprises two practice learning experiences. This structure facilitates the application of theory to practice, and is directly related to modules designed to address the acquisition of clinical and practice-based skills competence. A Post Graduate Certificate is available without nurse registration upon successful completion.

Year 2 consists of three integrated theory modules underpinned by a skills module and a year-long practice-based module which comprises two practice learning experiences. Again, this structure facilitates the application of theory to practice, and is directly related to modules designed to address the acquisition of clinical and practice-based skills competence. These modules include a range of field specific skills directly related to the employability of the newly registered nurse. There is an exit point of 120 credits with an award of Post Graduate Diploma in Health Care Studies upon successful completion (without nurse registration).

Year 3 consists of a 40 credit extended project module underpinned by a skills module and a practice-based module, and a final level 7 20 credit module which draws together all learning in the programme. The year-long practice module comprises two practice learning experiences. At the beginning of year 3, students may take advantage of the opportunity to experience practice placements throughout the UK and abroad. An exit award of a Post Graduate Diploma in Nursing with registration is available if all practice components have been achieved.

There is a formal theory opportunity for inter-professional learning (IPL) through an online programme of study. This is a mandatory part of the course and integrated into the course modules, but is not credit bearing. This is shared with all nursing fields, and with midwifery, dietetic and social work students. In addition, there is an opportunity for IPL through the hub and spoke placement learning opportunities which will have mapped learning pathways.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM7950 7 Exploring Professional Values 20 Comp
NM7951 7 Health of Individuals Across the Lifespan 20 Comp
NM7952 7 Health and Wellbeing 20 Comp
NM7954 7 Exploring Critical Perspectives in Health and Social Care 20 Comp
NM7956 7 Preparing for Practice 20 Comp
NM7957 7 Using Research to Develop Practice 40 Comp
NM7960 7 Exploring Field Specific Nursing Practice 20 Comp
NM7963 7 Exploring Complexities in Care Delivery (Learning Disability) 20 Comp
NMX901 7 Practice Learning 1 0 Comp
NMX902 7 Developing Skills for Practice 0 Comp
NMX903 7 Practice Learning 2 0 Comp
NMX904 7 Enhancing Skills for Practice 0 Comp
NMX905 7 Practice Learning 3 0 Comp
NMX906 7 Skills for Registration 0 Comp

Year 1 comprises three level 7 modules accumulating 60 credits at level 7 (3 x 20 credits), and two non-credit bearing modules that address the NMC hourage and progression criteria. There is an exit point of 60 credits at level 7 with an award of Post Graduate Certificate in Health and Social Care upon successful completion (without nurse registration).
Year 2 comprises three level 7 modules accumulating 60 credits at level 7 (3 x 20 credits), and two non-credit bearing modules that address the NMC hourage and progression criteria. There is an exit point of 120 level 7 credits with an award of Post Graduate Diploma in Health and Social Care upon successful completion (without nurse registration).
Year 3 comprises two level 7 modules accumulating 60 credits at level 7 (1 x 20 credits and 1 x 40 credits), and two non-crediting modules that address the NMC hourage and progression criteria. Accumulation of 120 level 7 credits with achievement of NMC hours and practice learning will achieve an exit award of Post Graduate Diploma in Nursing with nurse registration with the NMC upon successful completion. Accumulation of 180 level 7 credits will achieve an exit award of Master of Nursing with nurse registration with NMC upon successful completion.

Applicants will normally hold a first degree (normally a 2:1 class honours or above) or equivalent qualification.

GCSE English Language or Literature and Mathematics at grade C or above (or equivalent) is also required.

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, with the overall average score at least 7.0.Applications are encouraged from mature students and from groups normally under-represented in higher education.

Applicants are invited to attend for a group interview following scrutiny of their application form and their academic qualifications. The group interview, conducted by a range of people including a member of academic staff, a representative from clinical practice, and a service user, will seek to assess the candidates' communication skills, knowledge of nursing, and motivation and aptitude for nursing. Further a Maths and Literacy test is undertaken.

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.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 each candidate’s GP.

The following benchmarks have been mapped into modules to ensure that national and professional regulatory quality frameworks have been met.

Standards for Pre-registration Nursing Education (NMC 2010) (

Framework for Higher Education Qualificationsin England, Wales and Northern Ireland (QAA, 2008) (

Masters Degree Characteristics (QAA, 2010)

European Directive 2005/36/EC.

These benchmark standards represent the general expectations of standards for the award of qualifications at a given academic level, and articulate the attributes and capabilities that should be demonstrated by a registered nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of the UK. By the end of level 7 studies and related directly to the qualification descriptors at Master's level, and the award will be given to students who have demonstrated:
  1. A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice.
  2. A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship.
  3. Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline.
  4. Conceptual understanding that enables the student:
  • To critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline.
  • To evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.
Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:
  1. Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  2. Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level.
  3. Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level

    and will have:
  4. The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility.
  • Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations.
  • The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

In addition to this the QAA highlight requirement for professional programmes at masters level

Graduates of professional/practice master's degrees typically have:

i) subject-specific attributes

  •  an in-depth knowledge and understanding of their profession, informed by current practice, scholarship and research, including a critical awareness of current issues and developments in the subject and the profession
  • the ability to apply research to professional situations, both practical and theoretical
  • the ability to use a range of techniques and research methods applicable to their professional activities.

 ii) generic attributes (including skills relevant to an employment-setting) A range of generic abilities and skills that include the ability to:

  • use initiative and take responsibility
  • solve problems in creative and innovative ways
  • make decisions in challenging situations
  • continue to learn independently and to develop professionally
  • communicate effectively, with colleagues and a wider audience, in a variety of media.

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. 

Coherence and quality monitoring was managed by members of the University of Chester planning group. The composition of the planning team ensured that there were members of staff from academic and clinical practice backgrounds with experience in external consultancy and external examining.

The planning team included:
  1. An independent service user group who were also involved in the development of the programme. This addressed the needs of the client, carers and their families.
  2. Students were part of the validation team which ensured the programme was relevant to students’ needs and expectations.
  3. Practice partners, employers and stakeholders who ensured that workforce needs were addressed.
The internal quality monitoring and validation process of the University of Chester also ensured 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. All of this scrutiny was invaluable in quality assuring the programme against national benchmarks and expectations.

Students will experience a variety of teaching and learning methods designed to facilitate the achievement of all learning outcomes at level 7 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, tutorials, seminars, simulation, action learning sets, presentations and debates, reflection, case discussions, practice-based workshops, directed study, private study sessions, and e-learning packages. The student experience will be enhanced by the use of reflection.

This programme is innovative as it will take every opportunity to share learning, where appropriate, so that all fields of nursing can learn with, and about, all aspects of nursing. This will reduce the possibility of students focusing on their own field to the exclusion of other fields. The aim is to enable a competent practitioner who will feel confident in caring for clients across a range of ages and a spectrum of physical and mental health issues. We are also being careful not to lose a clear sense of field identity, so the programme also applies the generic content to bespoke field application sessions led by the field specialists.

Practice learning will be facilitated through clinical learning opportunities both in practice settings and through simulation. Simulation will be provided as a study day in the first 10 week placement of every academic year. This accounts for 40 hours per year, so each student will have a minimum of 100 hours of simulated practice. Simulation will provide opportunities for practice and Essential Skills Clusters (ESCs) skills acquisitions appropriate to the students’ learning needs, and will include communications workshops, role plays around escalating concerns, and health assessment scenarios. The simulation hours will form part of practice hours and will be monitored using an attendance record reviewed and collated by the Practice Office.

The practice-based modules are assessed using a Practice Assessment Record (PAR) document, which is not graded. The student experience will be enhanced by the use of reflection, which is assessed and is part of the professional portfolio. Students build the professional portfolio throughout the programme, and the learning plans in the portfolio focus on the further development of the students’ critical reflective skills, with a specific section devoted to reflection on learning in and 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 through reflection and management of their Skills Inventory. The Skills Inventory is mapped to the Essential Skills Clusters (ESCs).

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.

The student will be expected to complete a professional portfolio, and to identify and negotiate acceptable methods of evidencing the achievement of the learning outcomes within their portfolio. The portfolio will contain all of the PAR documents, assessed work, reflections and evidence of achievement of the learning outcomes. The portfolio contains some assessed work, but it is not assessed as a complete document. The student is required to submit the professional portfolio during the programme to ensure all elements are included for the student to progress.

Scenario-based learning (SBL) is included as a teaching and learning strategy within the programme. This strategy is 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, promotes decision-making and the use of critical problem-solving skills, and encourages lifelong interprofessional learning. The action learning sets are envisaged to promote the platform to mastery.

Inter-professional learning is addressed within the programme both in theory and practice. IPL in theory is through e-learning and in practice through formalised learning pathways. Visiting lecturers, expert professionals and scenario-based learning drawn from a range of professional areas will be utilised to enhance the students’ inter-professional learning.


The programme aims to integrate theory and practice through teaching methods and assessment strategies. The assessment strategies expose students to a variety of methods designed to integrate theory with practice such as; assignments; skills assessments; individual case studies, unseen written examination; oral examinations; portfolio development; e-learning, critiques; and practice assessment. This tests knowledge and understanding of practice. Students will be asked to demonstrate critical thinking and cognitive ability by drawing on practice experience to explore clinical themes and contemporary issues. Additionally the 40 credit third year module will promote the mastery of the pathway.

There is a skills assessment in in every year. To ensure the student develops skills and confidence in sheltered environment, assessment will be practised and simulated in the skills laboratory, with the final assessment conducted within practice. The assessment reflects the focus of the year, the progression criteria and the essential skills clusters (NMC 2010). Service users' views are incorporated into the assessment process.

The main vehicle for assessing practice learning and achievement is the Practice Assessment Record (PAR) that has been developed in collaboration across all the local HEIs. The documents have a common framework but there is a specific document for each field that takes account of the generic and field components of nursing and each field. The PAR is supported by the assessment of skills through the skills module's, supportive evidence including the Skills Inventory and written reflections on practice experiences.  All aspects of the assessment strategy will be used to evaluate transferable/key skills and, where relevant, mapped against national benchmarks.


The programme offers students the opportunity to achieve the characteristics of a masters graduate with a professional qualification, and is based upon the QAA and University of Chesters documents which define these characteristics (see below)

Assessment Element Postgraduate Criteria:

Demonstrate critical reasoning with regard to complex issues, which shows an ability to explore and develop alternative solutions.

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.

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.

Excellent communication skills which can reach a wider audience. 

The above criteria that demonstrate the notion of a postgraduate are fundamental to the role of the advanced practitioner in health and social care. It is envisaged that students who successfully complete the programme will utilise these criteria to become leaders and innovators. 

The graduate will have developed skills associated with professional practice within their chosen professional role. Knowledge and skills learnt through the core modules will be enhanced throughout the programme and underpin the application of theory to practice. Graduates will be able to demonstrate appropriate levels of decision making, and to monitor and improve standards of service delivery. On completion, these graduates will be equipped to deliver the highest quality evidence-based practice appropriate to their work-based setting.

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.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2010) Standards for pre-registration nursing education [Online at] 

Quality Assurance Agency (2008) The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Gloucester: QAA.

Back - to previous page  Print - launches the print options panel