University of Chester

Programme Specification
Palliative and End of Life Care GradDip
2015 - 2016

Graduate Diploma

Palliative and End of Life Care

Palliative and End of Life Care

University of Chester

University of Chester/End of Life Partnership

University of Chester/End of Life Partnership

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


Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years

4 Years

Triannual - January - April - September


17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

  • NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) Quality Standards, Quality Standard 13 End of Life Care for Adults (2011).
  • HPC Standards for Education and Training (2009). 
  • NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (2004).

Faculty of Health and Social Care Undergraduate Post-Registration Module Assessment Board

Thursday 1st May 2014

The overall aims of the programme are:

  • To enhance students' knowledge and skills relating to strategy and policy which promote and enhance the holistic wellbeing of individuals with palliative care needs and their significant others.
  • To develop the students' confidence to apply knowledge and reflect experience in the independent critical analysis and evaluation of palliative and end of life care.
  • To increase students' knowledge and understanding of the assessment and management of symptoms in palliative and end of life care.
  • To increase students' knowledge and understanding of the experience of loss and grief.
  • To enhance students' communication skills when working with individuals requiring palliative and end of life care.
  • To allow students to demonstrate a clear understanding of change management, in order to influence change in palliative and end of life care. In addition, the student will enhance their research skills, and learn to develop evidence-based concepts and explanations relevant to palliative and end of life care.
  • To enable students to learn skills and attributes that are transferable to work with many different individuals and their significant others, irrespective of their diagnosis or prognosis.

On successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to:

  • Be critically aware of the key concepts used to understand palliative and end of life care.
  • Identify factors that influence health and support of populations and individuals throughout their lifespan.
  • Construct and assess the validity of an argument, distinguish evidence from opinion, and facts from values.
  • Critically analyse the current problems, issues, policy and practice in palliative and end of life care.
  • Analyse own limitations and areas for development.

On successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to:

  • Communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Learn and study independently, to agreed timescales.
  • Solve problems through the acquisition and analysis of information.

Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate and analyse interventions influenced by strategies and policy.
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to the values and interests of others with the ability to identify and challenge inequality, oppression and discrimination.

Transferable Professional Skills:

On successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to progress with their careers, within either clinical or practice-based fields.

On successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to:


  • Use appropriate, effective communication and inter-professional skills, in the assessment and meeting the needs of individuals and their significant others with palliative care needs.

Application of number:

  • Develop the numeracy skills necessary to effectively evaluate research.

Information literacy and technology:

  • Develop effective information literacy and technology skills that will enable them to use the e-learning components that will be a part of all modules.
  • Develop the skills necessary to support their studies through effective use of information technology resources that will support them to study whilst not physically within the university.

Improving own learning and performance:

  • Demonstrate the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning.

Working with others:

  • Develop their ability to work with others through their participation on the course, which will be supported by the assessment strategies used.

Problem solving:

  • Problem solve creatively using imagination and flexibility in seeking solutions to palliative and supportive care problems and individual needs.

This Graduate Diploma in Palliative and End of Life Care programme is primarily suited to registered health and social care professionals working with individuals with a life limiting progressive illness, including those with a non-cancer diagnosis. It is aimed at those who wish to develop their academic skills and career whilst gaining a top up degree qualification. The programme provides students with a strong academic and vocational background, enabling them to develop academic and professional knowledge and key transferable skills in order to become flexible, autonomous, and highly skilled and competent practitioners. It places emphasis on analytical skills directed towards design, development, and critical analysis of client centred care.

A theme throughout the programme is the linkage between the professional and their context of practice. This focuses students' learning on meeting the needs of clients within an environment that requires effective team, inter-professional and inter-agency working and communication, as well as expert practice.

Students can take a flexible approach to completion and have up to four years to obtain the award. They will be advised individually about the most suitable pathway, at an interview with a member of the team prior to commencing the programme.

The Graduate Diploma Palliative and End of Life Care programme comprises 120 credits at level 6. Each module is worth 20 credits, therefore to gain a diploma students are required to undertake six modules. This will include five core modules and one option module.

The level characteristics, as described by the Quality Assurance Agency in the National Qualifications Framework, relate closely to the overarching characteristics of learning as defined by the University.

Modules have been designed and structured to meet benchmarks set out in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (2008), using the stated descriptors of level 6 study as the reference point.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM6124 6 Individual Work Based Learning 20 Optional
NM6144 6 Foundations in Leadership 20 Comp
NM6145 6 Evidence Based Practice in Health and Social Care 20 Comp
NM6233 6 Loss, grief and life-threatening illness 20 Comp
NM6234 6 Holistic symptom management and palliative care 20 Comp
NM6235 6 Essential communication skills: Engaging using a person-centred approach 20 Comp
NM6236 6 End of life approaches and the older person 20 Optional
NM6237 6 Principles and approaches in end of life care 20 Optional
NM6238 6 Promoting End of Life Care in Advancing Dementia 20 Optional

Graduate Diploma: 120 credits (level 6)

The student must be able to demonstrate achievement of a first degree prior to registering on the programme.

Normally all students will have access to a relevant care environment so that reflective practice activities can be utilised.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL), Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) and advanced standing is available, according to University policy.

Modules have internal integrity, and therefore can also be accessed individually to meet continuing professional development requirements. Students wishing to do this need to be aware of entry requirements. This information is available in section 6 of each module descriptor.

The programme is mapped to the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) Quality Standards, Quality Standard 13: End of Life Care for Adults (2011). This NICE quality standard defines clinical best practice within this topic area. It provides specific, concise quality statements, measures and audience descriptors to provide the public, health and social care professionals, commissioners and service providers with definitions of high quality care. This quality standard covers all settings and services in which care is provided by health and social care staff to all adults approaching the end of life.

The programme is mapped against the NHS Knowledge & Skills Framework (2004) with particular attention to Core Dimensions 1, ‘Communication'; 4, ‘Service Improvement'; 5, ‘Quality'; and 6, 'Equality and Diversity'.

Though the course is not a training course, it is mindful of the Health Professions Council's 'Standards of Education and Training' (2009), and conforms to these benchmarks as they are appropriate for a programme leading to an academic qualification, for example:

  • Curriculum must be relevant to current practice.
  • The delivery of the programme must assist autonomous and reflective thinking, and evidence-based practice.
  • The range of learning and teaching approaches used must be appropriate to the subjects in the curriculum.

Palliative and End of Life Care is an emerging field, hence there are not more specific subject benchmarks.

The learning and teaching methods selected for the programme are reflective of the guidance outlined in the QAA document, B3, Learning and Teaching (2012)

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, tutorials, seminars, presentations and debates, reflection, practice-based workshops, directed study, private study sessions, and e-learning packages. The student experience will be enhanced by the use of reflection. Students will thus be placed at the centre of the learning experience and are expected to assume responsibility for their own educational development.

Scenario-based learning is included as a teaching and learning strategy within this programme. This strategy is used for learning and teaching within the programme through the use of real scenarios from work-based settings, which facilitates integration of theory and practice, promotion of decision-making and problem-solving skills, and inter-professional learning and peer-learning; it also encourages lifelong learning.

Students will be encouraged to be self-directed and 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, which will require them to actively identify and negotiate specific learning outcomes pertinent to their area of practice within the parameters of the module learning outcomes. Students will also be expected to identify and negotiate acceptable methods of evidencing the achievement of the learning outcomes. Inter-professional learning and peer-learning is addressed within the programme.

The assessment strategy and methods within the programme are reflective of the guidance outlined in the QAA document, B6, Assessment of students and the recognition of prior learning (2013).

There will be 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 coursework assignments, reflective accounts, case studies, portfolios, and production of a resource and research critique.

Knowledge and understanding will be tested through the above assessment strategies. Intellectual skills will be assessed normally through coursework, and students will be asked to demonstrate thinking and cognitive ability through their assessed work.

The module descriptors describe each assessment briefly and the module handbook will provide additional information.

All modules will use written assignments as part of the assessment strategy, but will be looking to draw out different skills from the students:

  • NM6145 - emphasis on evaluation of research perspectives.
  • NM6144 - emphasis on understanding leadership.
  • NM6235 - emphasis on self-reflection through communications.
  • NM6233 - emphasis on impact of loss and grief on self and others.
  • NM6124 - emphasis on reflection on a work based experience.
  • NM6236 - emphasis on core principles in relation to the older person at end of life.
  • NM6145 - emphasis on producing an evidence based-resource.
  • NM6238 - emphasis on challenges in the workplace in dementia.

The programme offers students the opportunity to achieve the characteristics of a graduate, and it is assessment criteria based upon QAA and University of Chester documents which define these characteristics (see below) (QAA, Handbook B6, 2013).

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

Apply the methods, techniques and modes of practice that they have learned, and review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding.

Theory/practice link
Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of relevant knowledge and applicable techniques enabling them to take initiatives and accept significant responsibility within organisations.

Demonstrate critical analysis and be able to deal with complex issues.

Consider abstract data, concepts and/or raw materials and frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions to a problem.

Evaluating evidence and argument
Ability to deploy accurately established techniques of analysis and enquiry.

Reaching sound judgements
Ability to critically evaluate current research, methodology and scholarship.

Ability to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions, in a variety of formats appropriate to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.

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 in option modules to underpin the application of theory to practice. They will be able to demonstrate appropriate levels of decision-making, and to monitor and improve standards of service delivery, within their chosen setting.

On completion, graduates will be equipped to deliver the highest quality evidence-based practice appropriate to their work-based setting, which might include counsellors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, social workers, podiatrists and voluntary sector workers.

The University of Chester and End of Life Partnership are committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity, both as an employer and as an educational institution, and have an equality and diversity policy to support this commitment.

The Graduate Diploma in Palliative and End of Life Care programme is explicitly supportive of equality and valuing diversity, and explores these issues, particularly as they relate to ethnicity, in the content of the course. The course design and structure will support a diverse range of learning styles. It will also support opportunities for students to engage with this level of study, which in turn will support their professional development, whilst allowing them to manage balancing work and life commitments. The students will be actively encouraged to make use of the excellent facilities and support available through Learning and Information Services.

Several distinctive features of this programme are:

  • The teaching facilities - many of the modules will be delivered at End of Life Partnership.
  • Practitioners are invited as guest speakers from the field of health, social care and beyond, and are regularly utilised within the taught modules so there are first hand live examples of current practice.
  • Service user/carer and employer involvement is embedded within the programme through consultation and contributions to curriculum development. Service users and carers also provide teaching in modules in order to ensure that an appreciation of carer and user perspectives is gained.
  • Inter-professional learning is embedded throughout the programme. The programme is undertaken by a number of different healthcare practitioners and this provides the opportunity for students to explore issues from a variety of perspectives.

Note that though an annual intake in September is normal for this programme (s.13), students may commence in any trimester following the admission interview.

Note that the maximum length of study is four years, in line with similar programmes in the Faculty.

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