University of Chester

Programme Specification
Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Health Visiting MSc
2014 - 2015

Master of Science

Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Health Visiting

Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Health Visiting

University of Chester

University of Chester

Sites as determined by Faculty of Health and Social Care, including Warrington, Chester, Leighton,  Clatterbridge campuses and the Isle of Man Education and training centre.

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

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year (for full-time programme), or 2 years (for part-time programme)

6 Years

Variable - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

  • Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Standards of Proficiency 2004

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Faculty of Health and Social Care Postgraduate Programme Assessment Board

Wednesday 1st May 2013

The overarching aim of this programme is to enable students to plan, deliver and implement public health within a dynamic and diverse range of settings.

The specific programme aims are to:

  • Facilitate the development of Specialist Community Public Health Nurses who will be fit for practice, fit for purpose and fit for award.
  • Offer a dynamic and quality postgraduate educational experience relevant to Specialist Community Public Health Nurses.
  • Facilitate postgraduates to utilise higher level critical, analytical and reflective skills within academic and practice environments.
  • Enable students to be cognisant of the holistic nature of specialist community public health nursing practice and to gain comprehensive higher level knowledge, expertise and the individual qualities necessary to work as autonomous, competent practitioners within unpredictable professional environments.
  • Enable postgraduates to innovate and apply contributions to the evidence base of practice and communicate conclusions clearly.
  • 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.
  • Provide an understanding of the complexity of Specialist Community Public Health Nursing, whilst being cognisant with the conflicting priorities and ambiguous situations when working across a variety of settings.
  • 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.
  • Appraise key 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.
  • Recognise the application of the research process and relevance to their own scholarship.
  • Demonstrate 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.
  • 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.

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

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.

Transferable Professional Skills

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.

This postgraduate programme of study may be undertaken on either a full or part time basis. Students who wish to access the programme must have 120 credits at level six (or equivalent). They can take a flexible approach to completion and normally have between one and four 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 four years to meet Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) [2004] requirements.)

The programme is offered on a modular basis, and is designed to meet the criteria set by the NMC Specialist Community Public Health Nurses Competencies and the QAA subject benchmarks for Nursing and Health Visiting.

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 52 week full time equivalent taught course (which leads to a Postgraduate Diploma Specialist Community Public Health Nursing award), with an option to achieve a further 60 credits through a dissertation module at level 7 to complete the Masters degree.

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. There are three defined areas of practice:

  • Health Visiting.
  • Occupational Health Nursing.
  • School Nursing.

Where a defined area of practice is required, students must have completed a consolidated practice experience (minimum of ten weeks) and at least half of the remaining practice time in settings with clients that are central to the responsibilities of the defined practice.



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%

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
NM7108 7 Advanced SCPHN 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
NM7117 7 Advanced Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting) 20 Comp
NM7120 7 Advanced Work Related Professional Skills 10 Optional

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

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

  • Registration on the appropriate part of the NMC register
  • Successful completion of a degree (normally a 2:1 classification) 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 or organisation*

*Candidates who do not possess the above requirements may exceptionally be admitted to the programme from the following criteria:
  • Enrolled upon a combined pre-registration nursing/ Health Visiting programme
·         All successfully short listed 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.


Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Specialist Community Public Health Nurse competencies, QAA, HV Benchmark Statements & Public Health standards.

Nature and extent of programme:


This programme seeks to provide nurses working in the community setting with a strategy for lifelong learning, which enables them to attain an award of Specialist Community Public Health Nursing for a named field of practice. 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 Community Public Health Nurse. 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 (Department of Health, 2010, 2011; Marmot Review 2010; Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2004), which have a direct effect on the way professional education should be organised and provided. Specialist Community Public Health Nurses are defined as leaders within their own clinical area who are able to exercise higher levels of judgement and discretion (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2004). 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

Department of Health (2010a) Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention programme Accessed 17th January 2013

Fair society, healthy lives: the Marmot review; strategic review of health inequalities in England post-2010. Accessed 17/01/13

Department of Health. Health Visitor Implementation Plan 2011-2015: A call to action. Department of Health, London 2011.    Accessed 17/01/13

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2004). Standards of proficiency for Specialist Community Public Health Nurses. Acesed 17 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.

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 portfolio for the programme. The practice learning 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 is a key feature within the programme. Visiting lecturers and expert professionals will be required in order to facilitate this process, and to ensure that examples and scenarios are drawn from a range of professional areas.

Practice Teachers will undertake student assessment in practice, with support from the lecturing staff of the Faculty. A designated SCPHN 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 Advanced Specialist Community Public Health Practice Learning Skills Portfolio with the assessor, taking an active role in setting up progress meetings and working alongside the 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 and learn in a supported environment with pathway specific skills (Advanced Specialist Community Public Health Practice Learning Skills Portfolio module)

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 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 Advanced Specialist Community Public Health Practice Learning Skills Portfolio.


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

Assessment Element

Postgraduate Criteria
ReasoningDemonstrate critical reasoning with regard to complex issues, which shows an ability to explore and develop alternative solutions.
KnowledgeCritical evaluation of key concepts of knowledge. Extensive systematic reading and demonstration of insight and originality.
Theory/Practice linkDemonstrate 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 solvingDemonstrate 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 argumentAbility to deploy accurately, creatively and imaginatively established techniques of analysis and enquiry.
Reaching sound judgementsAbility to critically evaluate current research, methodology and scholarship and, where appropriate, propose new hypotheses.
CommunicatingExcellent 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 Specialist Community Public Health 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 Specialist Community Public Health Nursing practice. They will have the knowledge and skills necessary to assess the 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.

Postgraduate practice will be underpinned by the ten key principles of Public Health Practice in the context of Specialist Community Public Health Nursing, which are grouped into four domains:
  • Search for health needs.
  • Stimulation of awareness of health needs.
  • Influence on policies affecting health.
  • Facilitation of health enhancing activities.

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 Specialist Community Public Health Nursing 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 to 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.

Note: The postgraduate diploma must be completed within 156 weeks for full time students or 208 weeks for part time students to meet NMC Circular 24/2006.

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

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