Students and service users in a group session.


Nursing (Learning Disabilities)

This course is open for applications.

About this course

Entry year:
Course code:
Tariff points:
Nursing and Midwifery
Glenside Campus
Three years, one intake in September at Glenside Campus
Programme leader:
Kim Scarborough
Key fact:
Accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), this course will lead to registration with the NMC as a learning disabilities nurse. Along with the practical focus of the course, our local connections and strong links with employers lead many graduates to receive more than one job offer.

Page last updated 13 September 2017


Why study BSc(Hons)/BSc Nursing (Learning Disabilities)?

Working in a variety of healthcare settings, including specialist learning disabilities nursing services and community or family homes, learning disabilities nurses provide specialist health support to people of a range of ages and learning disabilities. This is a challenging but highly rewarding career and the course will give you the knowledge, skills and attitude to work with this group, their families and other professionals, improving access to healthcare, wellbeing, social inclusion and quality of life.

Why study our course?

BSc(Hons)/BSc Nursing (Learning Disabilities) is accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and leads to registration as a learning disabilities nurse with the NMC. As well as learning the theory of good nursing practice and studying the subjects that underpin it, you will develop strong inter-professional and interpersonal skills, together with a real understanding of what it means to have a learning disability or be a family carer. With fully integrated work-based training and outstanding onsite facilities, you will be taught by an enthusiastic team of experienced learning disabilities nurses.

Real-world experience

The course has a strong practical focus, incorporating person-centred learning with use of our Inter-professional Simulation Suite. Half your time will be spent on placements in the NHS or with employers in the independent health and social care sector. Throughout your course, you will engage with people with learning disabilities, family carers and practising nurses - in placements, classes and during online learning. There are also options to develop and apply your skills working abroad.

Where it can take you

There are many exciting career opportunities in a wide variety of roles. You could work within hospitals, in the community for the NHS, for the prison service or in roles for private or voluntary sector employers. Learning disabilities nurses are in demand across the UK and in a wide range of specialties, including neurology, epilepsy, acute physical and mental healthcare, and specialist services for people with learning disabilities.

Watch: The learning and teaching experience

Accreditations and partnerships:



Central to the core subjects of nursing theory and practice are supporting studies in biology, psychology, sociology, interpersonal skills and information technology, as applied to health and social care in a range of settings. There is a strong emphasis on the development of interprofessional and interpersonal skills, which are essential in establishing effective relationships with people with learning disabilities, families and colleagues in a multidisciplinary and multi agency setting. Throughout the course, research appreciation skills are developed in support of good practice.

Year one

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Communication in a Diverse World
  • Physiology and Pharmacology for Nursing Practice
  • Appreciating Evidence for Practice
  • Building Positive Relationships with, and Services for, People with Learning Disabilities
  • Learning Disabilities Nursing Practice 1.

Year two

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Service Improvement - a Collaborative Approach
  • Evidence Based Practice for Nursing
  • Health Needs of People with Learning Disabilities
  • Learning Disabilities Nursing Practice 2
  • The role of the Learning Disabilities Nurse in public health promotion.

Final year

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Learning Disabilities Nursing Dissertation
  • Leadership in Learning Disabilities Nursing 
  • Learning Disabilities Nursing Practice 3
  • Teaching and Learning in Learning Disability Nursing Practice.

In addition, you will study one optional module from the list below:

  • End of Life Care
  • Worldwide Nursing
  • Evidencing Work based learning
  • Independent study.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

The course is run on a modular basis and delivered full-time. When you are in Bristol, undertaking academic modules, this will be between the hours of 09:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday, except bank holidays. However, the course includes a proportion of online learning and distance learning, some of which is timetabled for the hours above (some can be taken within an agreed time period and is therefore flexible). The amount of online and distance learning increases over the three year course. 

We expect you to take a great deal of the responsibility for your own learning, as many of the modules will be taught using a blended learning approach. Blended learning is made possible by the effective combination of different ways of delivery information. This approach allows students to develop their knowledge and understanding by using blended resources combining e-learning and e-tutoring.

E-learning is the information technology transfer of skills and knowledge. E-learning applications and processes include web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classroom opportunities and digital collaboration. Aspects of the programme will be delivered using e-learning and supported by e-tutoring. Students will acquire skills in self-directed and independent study, research and the key skills required for any workplace activity. The course will provide an excellent preparation for future professional development, enabling students to transfer skills across a range of professional roles.

Teaching and learning methods range from lectures, seminars, skills development, simulation, online activities, service user and carer-led sessions and student-led presentations. Person-centred study focused on individual people is a core learning activity. Support for studying is provided by academic staff and during practice placements by qualified nursing staff.

Study themes running through the course include:

  • Nursing theory and practice
  • Nursing management
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Development of professional practice
  • Bio-psychosocial development of the individual across the lifespan
  • Health, wellness and illness
  • Health care systems
  • Interprofessional working
  • Skills development
  • Research skills

A number of these themes will be developed and taught alongside other health and social care student groups.

For more details see our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Percentage of time spend in different learning activities, per year.

YearScheduled learning and teaching studyIndependent studyPlacement study% check

Study time

Computer skills are vital for your academic studies and future employment. At UWE Bristol, computing is an integral part of your course. All lecturers involved with it will incorporate e-learning and all modules will require you to use Information Technology (IT) to help you undertake and present your work. You will have a facilitated session with the tutors to learn how to use our e-learning resources before your first placement. IT facilities are available on all campuses. At the main Frenchay Campus, there is a 24 hour access to computing facilities, and the Department offers help and support throughout your course.

Prior to commencing your course, you may find it helpful to familiarise yourself with some core IT skills:

  • Basic word processing
  • Storing and retrieving files
  • Communicating via email
  • Searching the web for information, eg online shopping, booking a holiday, homework
  • Using e-learning resources to support your learning


A variety of methods is used to assess students' academic learning throughout the course. These include essays, care studies, practical assessment and project work, as well as timed examinations on known topics.

For more details, see our full glossary of assessment terms.

Percentage of time spend in different assessment methods, per year.

YearWritten exam assessmentCoursework assessmentPractical exam assessment% check


Professional accreditation

BSc(Hons)/BSc Nursing (Learning Disabilities) at UWE Bristol is accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and leads to registration as a learning disabilities nurse with the NMC.


With two work placements each year, you will spend half the course applying your knowledge and building professional skills in the real-world. We have excellent links with leading employers throughout the South West and over the duration of the course; placements are normally split between NHS roles and positions in private or voluntary sector organisations. This gives you a broad range of practice experiences and puts you in a strong position for future employment. Your personal mentor will advise, counsel and offer feedback on progress during your placement work with people with learning disabilities and healthcare professionals.

Details of placements throughout the year:

Year one - 19 weeks placement:

  • Mid-January to mid-March (nine weeks)
  • Mid-May to late July (ten weeks)

Year two - 22 weeks placement:

  • Mid-November to late February (Christmas AL) (11 weeks)
  • Mid-April to end July (11 weeks)

Year three - 24 weeks placement:

  • Early September to mid-November (ten weeks)
  • Mid-March to late June (14 weeks, including 1 week annual leave)

Placements are a mix of office hour placements and shifts that cover 24 hour a day, seven days a week. Being able to work shifts, occasional night duties and weekends is an integral part of the course.  

Study facilities

Teaching and learning facilities at UWE Bristol are outstanding. The Glenside campus library is acknowledged as one of the best healthcare libraries in the country, enabling you to support your studies. For learning disabilities nursing, we have an excellent selection of ebooks, e-journals, audio-visual materials and access to specialist health and social care software packages. The course has a practical focus and our inter-professional skills simulation suite provides excellent opportunities for the demonstration and practice of professional competencies for all students.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE has to offer.

Making connections

Every year, students help run a South West Learning Disabilities Conference, bringing together best practice from across the region. This supports learning and opens up employment opportunities.

International opportunities

Our links with services for people who have autism in Croatia provides the opportunity for a two week placement to experience learning disabilities nursing outside the UK. We also offer 12-week placement options in Finland and Norway through the ERASMUS scheme.

Widening participation

We are committed to enabling and encouraging applications to join the course from the wider population and therefore do not ask for set grades at A-Level.


Careers / Further study

Our graduates enter careers in a variety of areas, mostly working with adults who have learning disabilities. However, there are also opportunities to work with children. Some graduates find work in NHS specialist community teams, primary care teams, inpatient services and acute services, as part of a wider multi-field nursing team. Others are employed in the private and voluntary sectors as nurses in specialist teams supporting people with complex needs, in fields such as head injury or dementia care or asspecialist health facilitators. There are also opportunities in prison healthcare, short-term break services, mental health and learning disability services, and person-centred services.

Award-winning careers service

Our award-winning careers service will help you develop your employment potential through career coaching and a vacancy service for internships, along with placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity, plus support for entrepreneurial activity and access to employer events.

Creating employable students

UWE Bristol places strong emphasis on employability and skills development at every level. Through work placements, volunteering, study abroad and initiatives nurturing talent and innovation, you will have opportunities to gain valuable real world experience, allowing you to graduate with diverse career opportunities and a competitive place in the job market.

Visit our Employability pages to find out about careers, employers, real world experience and what our students are doing six months after graduating.

Be inspired

Read about a day in the life of a Learning Disabilities Nurse.

Useful links

Nursing Standard:

NHS Careers - Learning Disabilities

NHS jobs


Full Time Course

FeesAmount (£)
International-Full Time-Annual (Per Year) Fee12750
International-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)1594

Indicative Additional Costs

FeesAmount (£)
Additional Course Costs - Full Time - Home/EU - Indicative Maximum Cost Per year450
OH/Medical assessment - ONLY charged for missed appointments.30

Supplementary fee information

The additional costs listed are those you could reasonably expect to incur during your studies and are for items not covered by the standard tuition fee. These could be materials, text books, travel, clothing, software or printing.

If you are a UK student you may be entitled to living cost support.

For more details please see our guidance on NHS funding for UK students or our guidance on NHS funding for EU students.

We are unable to accept applications from international students (overseas fee status).


Typical offers

  • Tariff points: 120
  • GCSE: For all applicants, a minimum of five subjects at grade C/4 or above, to include English Language and Mathematics, or equivalent. Please note the University does not accept Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Certificates in Adult Numeracy and Literacy as suitable alternatives to GCSEs.
  • English Language Requirement:

    If your first language is not English, you should have a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 or above, with a minimum of 7.0 in all sections of the test. Full details of this language test can be obtained from the British Council. Please note the University's published list of alternative English Language qualifications does not apply to this course.

  • A-level subjects: Grade C or above in a Science or Social Science subject. Points from A-Level General Studies and AS-Level subjects (not taken on to full A-Level) can be included towards overall tariff. You must have a minimum of two A-Levels.
  • Specific subjects: Subjects that meet the science/social science requirement for this course: Biology, Applied Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Design and Technology: Food Technology, Environmental Science, Geography, Geographical Science, Geology, Health and Social Care, Mathematics, Physical Education, Physics, Psychology, Applied Science, Science (Biology route), Science (Chemistry route), Science (Physics route), Science in Society, Sociology, Sport and Physical Education, Sports Studies.

    For further information and advice on acceptable science/social science subjects please email

  • EDEXCEL (BTEC) Diploma: To include six units in a Science or Social Science subject
  • Access: Achievement of the Access to HE Diploma; to include 30 level 3 credits at merit, of which 15 credits must be in a Science or Social Science subject.
  • Baccalaureate IB: A minimum grade of 5 in a higher level science or social science subject

Entry requirements

We are unable to accept applications from international students (overseas fee status)

Please note we do not accept deferred entry applications for this course.

We require evidence of recent assessed academic study within the last three years.

If you do not meet the minimum academic entry requirements but have significant life and/or work experience, you will be considered on an individual basis. However, you still need to meet the GCSE English and Maths requirements and should also have evidence of recent study in a science/health related subject area recognised as equivalent academic level by the University.

If you don't meet the entry requirements of this course, you may be eligible for the Health Professions Foundation Year which can qualify you for the full degree.

Please read the general information about entry requirements.

Recruitment for this course is informed by Health Education England's Values Based Recruitment Framework. The purpose of this framework is to ensure that we recruit students whose individual values and behaviours align with the values of the NHS Constitution.

Additional selection criteria

As well as meeting the academic entry requirements, you should meet the following selection criteria:

Completing the application form - We will be looking for applicants committed to Learning Disabilities Nursing. You should clearly demonstrate this in the 'personal statement' section of the application form by saying why you want to study Learning Disabilities Nursing and sharing any relevant work experience that you have gained to date.

If you are interested in a career in healthcare and would like advice on writing a personal statement, please download our 'writing a health and social care personal statement' guide.

Health assessment/declaration/vaccinations. You must be in good health and up-to-date with your routine immunisations e.g. tetanus, diphtheria, polio and MMR. If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a questionnaire and must be prepared to undergo a medical examination.  You will also be required to confirm your status in respect of a number of infectious diseases and immunisations (tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, varicella, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV antibodies) and be prepared to have all required vaccinations. If your vaccinations are not up-to-date this will affect your ability to continue on your course. If you have any concerns with regards to vaccinations please raise this at the point of application.

Disclosure of Criminal Background - The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not apply and all convictions, including those which are spent, must be disclosed. This is in accordance with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975. If you are offered a place, you must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and will be required to complete a Disclosure Application Form. All information will be treated in confidence and only taken into account when absolutely necessary.

Selection Event - If shortlisted, you will be invited to a selection event where you will undertake a literacy and numeracy test, group activity and individual interview. On successful completion of all of these criteria, you will be offered a place.

We encourage applications from all those interested in nursing or midwifery. Nursing and Midwifery are both physically and emotionally demanding professions and UWE Bristol positively implements the principles of the Equality Act 2010.

Students on nursing or midwifery courses are expected to engage in the full range of clinical duties whilst on placement, which constitutes half of the course. As a student on a professional nursing or midwifery course, you must be mindful of the requirement in the NMC code of Practice 2015, which states that registered nurses must maintain the level of health needed to carry out our professional role.

Offers of places are subject to occupational health clearance and you will be expected to disclose pre-existing and historical health conditions. If you register on a professional course, you will have to meet specific requirements related to the need to demonstrate certain knowledge, skills and competencies required by professional, statutory or regulatory bodies. These cannot be compromised. In considering Reasonable Adjustments, these will be taken into account when agreeing what adjustments are possible.

How to apply

Please see the general information about applications.

For further information


UWE Main Campus

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