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BSc(Hons) Nursing (Learning Disabilities)

Entry year
Course code
School of Health and Social Wellbeing
Tariff points
Glenside Campus
Three years
Programme leader
Craig Boothroyd and Adam Bennett

This course is open for applications

Page last updated 12 June 2024


Our employer links, practical focus and the clinical experience offered means that you'll develop the confidence and critical skills you need to propel your learning disabilities nursing career.

Accreditations and partnerships:

Why study learning disabilities nursing?

Nursing is a challenging but rewarding career that'll change lives, including your own. As a learning disability nurse, you'll play an important role in identifying and meeting people's health and wellbeing needs, and improving healthcare, social inclusion and quality of life.

Learning disabilities nurses support children, adults and their families, in a creative, flexible manner, in their own homes, communities and specialist services.

A £5,000 per year training grant is available for home students along with an additional £1,000 per year grant because learning disabilities nurses are in demand in the UK and worldwide. Further information is available on the NHS Business Services website.

Why UWE Bristol?

You'll learn from a passionate, enthusiastic, skilled and supportive team with a range of experience across the many differerent aspects of learning disability nursing, and other nursing fields.  

As many of our staff are active researchers, your learning will be enriched by the very latest in best practice and clinical understanding.

The course is 50% theory and 50% practice. You will learn and develop your skills, knowledge and understanding both at UWE Bristol and in the workplace, and develop strong therapeutic relationships with service users, families and our established partners.

Your practice learning will be complemented by our outstanding facilities, including our Skills Simulation Centre, where you will develop your clinical expertise in a safe, instructive environment.

Based at Glenside Campus, you'll learn alongside students from other health and social care courses, such as occupational therapists, mental health nurses and midwives, and develop strong interpersonal and communication skills.

The course offers opportunities for diverse placements aboard and throughout the UK, to enrich your experience even further. As a nursing student at UWE Bristol, you'll have the exciting opportunity to apply for an international experience with a variety of options. In some instances the application process will be competitive. International experiences can be as short as one week or as long as five weeks. You'll need to self-finance these experiences, but Home students will be able to apply for means-tested bursary funds for support during that time. Having an international experience provides opportunities to be internationally mobile and entrepreneurial, and to make a difference to our local community.

Where can it take me?

Learning disabilities nurses are in demand across the UK - in the NHS, private and voluntary sector.



The optional modules listed are those that are most likely to be available, but they may be subject to change.

Year one

You will study:

  • Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology for Nursing
  • Episodes of Care 1
  • Fundamentals of Nursing Practice
  • Principles of Nursing (Field Specific)
  • Sustainable Global Public Health.

Year two

You will study:

  • Assessment and Decision Making
  • Episodes of Care 2
  • Episodes of Care 3
  • Pharmacology and Medicines Management
  • Research Methodologies of Nursing Enquiry
  • Supporting People with Complex Needs.

Final year

You will study:

  • Episodes of Care 4
  • Leadership and Supervision
  • Nursing Final Project
  • Transition to Registration.

Plus, one optional module from:

  • Collaborative Approaches to Effective Pain Management
  • Crossing Borders
  • Health Needs of Children and Adults on the Autism Spectrum
  • Healthy Ageing
  • Introduction to Emergency Care
  • Primary and Community Healthcare
  • Public Health and Health Promotion for Professional Practice
  • Solution Focussed Practice - Developing Empowering Conversations with People
  • Using the Mental Capacity Act in Practice
  • World Wide Nursing.

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.

"I completed two placements per year, which gave me the practical experience to become an effective practitioner. My placements gave me exposure to different services and trusts, which prepared me for my current role as a Patient Safety Reviewer for the NHS." Arzu, 2020 Nursing (Learning Disabilities) graduate

Learning and Teaching

Our philosophy of nurse education encompasses flexible, progressive and innovative approaches ensuring you will be a caring, competent and critically thinking nurse. Some of our approaches include experiential learning, enquiry and action-based learning, group work and face-to-face learning.

You'll learn about the importance of a holistic and relationship-centred approach to nursing care, and how you develop and maintain therapeutic relationships with people in diverse cultural contexts.

Develop your expertise in healthcare systems, nursing management, and the sociology of health, wellness and illness. Explore the latest research and evidence-based practice, and learn to adapt and respond to changes in society and developments in care.

With a strong focus on building independent learning and research skills, the course also provides an excellent preparation for future professional development. With the help of distance learning and self-directed materials you'll be supported to take responsibility for your own learning.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

The course includes attendance in classes and online directed learning. During the timetabled blocks of the course, you'll study full time Monday to Friday, except bank holidays. Occasionally this can include evenings and may finish at 21:00.

On nursing placement, you will be working full time (37.5 hours), participating in shifts over a 24-hour period, including nights and weekends. The geographical landscape for the learning disability field is large and travelling will be expected.


You will be continuously assessed on your clinical practice throughout the course. We'll also make use of a mixture of written assignments, case studies, Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs), project/portfolio work, timed examinations and presentations.

Learn more about assessments.


Professional accreditation

This course is accredited by The Nursing and Midwifery Council.


UWE Bristol's geographical area for placement provision covers the whole of the South, South West and West of England. Placements across this region help support and provide a wealth of clinical experience across many areas within the NHS healthcare service and the Private Voluntary and Independent sector. These placements are vital to meet the professional regulatory body standards in practice for our affiliated health and social care courses. 

To access this variety of opportunities within the health and social care courses, there's  an expectation that all students at times will have to travel across large areas. In some cases this can be more than 50 miles away  and may be outside of normal working hours due to the nature of shift work on some courses. 

When considering your application to these courses, you must ensure you have means to travel to your placement location at unsociable hours, and/or funds available to secure short-term accommodation options to participate in your placement, if required.  

With two practice placements a year, you'll spend half the course applying your knowledge and building your professional skills working with people, their families and healthcare professionals in a range of settings.

We have excellent links with our local employers, and placements are normally split between NHS roles and positions in private or voluntary sector organisations.

You'll get a broad range of practice experiences, putting you in a strong position for future employment in either a community or hospital setting. In each placement setting you'll receive support and guidance from supervisors and assessors.

During the course, you'll experience placements across a range of practice areas including hospital, community, and social care settings. Within these placement experiences, you'll be supervised and assessed to achieve the proficiencies within the course and complete the 2300 hours of practice learning as required by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. As part of this, you'll also experience simulated learning experiences which will enhance your practice learning, provide exposure to hard-to-reach areas of practice, and focus on developing advanced skills.

Study facilities

All nursing students at UWE Bristol are based at Glenside, our dedicated healthcare campus. It's a welcoming community that combines beautiful surroundings with first-rate facilities and equipment.

Our Skills Simulation Centre is a replica hospital ward where you'll be able to refine your clinical skills and build your confidence before going out into practice.

There are consultation rooms, adapted living spaces, a maternity unit, and a children's unit, as well as a range of manikins on which you can develop your clinical expertise.

What's more, all the apparatus you'll use is genuine equipment found in NHS hospitals. So when you head out on placement, you won't be stepping into the unknown.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Nursing and Midwifery facilities and see what's on offer here for you.

Start your dream career at UWE Bristol



An excellent range of options for all of the Bristol campuses and the city centre.


A stunning city for student living with all the qualities to make you want to stay.

Sports, societies and activities

There is more to your experience here than study. Choose to make the most of it and try new things.

Health and Wellbeing

We provide support in the way you need it.

Campus and facilities

Discover our campuses and the wealth of facilities provided for our students.


Careers / Further study

Learning Disability nurses are in demand across the UK. All our graduates gain employment and enter careers in a variety of roles for the NHS, private and voluntary sector employers, in community and hospital settings.

Due to the needs of our service users, graduates often branch out into other specialisms, such as acquired brain injury, dementia and mental health care, adult or children's services, and specialist teams. With so many new doors opening, this is an exciting time for the learning disability nurse.

Once qualified you can also combine clinical work with study on a post-qualifying course. By specialising further in a specific area, you can progress to more senior positions such as consultant nurse, nurse specialist, researcher, or local or regional services manager.

Find out more about careers in learning disability nursing.

Take the NHS Nursing careers quiz.

Get inspired

Our award-winning careers service will develop your employment potential through career coaching and find you graduate jobs, placements and global opportunities.

We can also help find local volunteering and community opportunities, provide support for entrepreneurial activity and get you access to employer events.

Visit our employability pages to learn more about careers, employers and what our students are doing six months after graduating.


Supplementary fee information

Additional costs are for items you could need during your studies that aren't covered by the standard tuition fee. These could be materials, textbooks, travel, clothing, software or printing.

Learn more about costs.

A £5,000 per year training grant is available for home students along with an additional £1,000 per year grant because learning disabilities nurses are in demand in the UK and worldwide. Further information is available on the NHS Business Services website.

If you undertake the international opportunity available on this course, you'll need to self-finance but Home students can apply for a means-tested bursary fund for support during that time.


Typical offers

  • Tariff points: 112
  • Contextual tariff: See our contextual offers page.
  • GCSE: Grade C/4 or above in English and Mathematics, or equivalent.
  • English Language Requirement: EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in writing, and 7.0 in all other sections of the test (or approved equivalent*).

    *The university accepts a large number of UK and International Qualifications in place of IELTS. You can find details of acceptable tests and the required grades you will need in our English Language section. Please visit our English language requirements page.

  • A-level subjects: No specific subjects required.
  • EDEXCEL (BTEC) Diploma: No specific subjects required.
  • Access: No specific subjects required.
  • Baccalaureate IB: No specific subjects required.
  • Irish Highers: No specific subjects required.
  • T Levels: No specific subjects required.

Entry requirements

Please note that due to early clinical contact on this course applicants must turn 18 before the start of placement. Applicants who do not turn 18 by the commencement of the placement will be advised to defer or reapply as appropriate. Please see our admissions policy for further information.

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

Additional requirements

All applicants are required to complete:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check*
  • Health Checks*.

*All information will be treated in confidence and only taken into account when absolutely necessary.

About your Health Checks

UWE Bristol prides itself on being disability friendly and supportive of physical and mental wellbeing, therefore disclosing any needs you might have through the Occupational Health Assessment will enable us to create reasonable adjustments to suit your needs. As part of the assessment you will be required to complete a questionnaire and must be prepared to undergo a medical examination if required. Offers of places are subject to Occupational Health Clearance and students are expected to disclose pre-existing and historical health conditions. You must be in good health and up-to-date with all routine immunisations that are required for working in health and social care settings. You will also be required to confirm your status in respect of a number of infectious diseases (tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, varicella, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV antibodies) and be prepared to have all required vaccinations. Please note that the list of required vaccinations may change, in response to advice from the Department of Health. 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.

Selection process

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online Microsoft Teams interview. You will be interviewed by a member of our Nursing team. The interview panel may also include clinicians and service users. As part of the recruitment process, we will also assess your digital literacy.

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.

Watch our video for top tips on writing a healthcare personal statement and download our health and social care personal statement guide (PDF).

International applicants

For country specific entry requirements please find your country on the country information pages. If you are an international student and do not meet the academic requirements to study this course, you can qualify by completing preparatory study at our International College.

If you are applying to study at UWE Bristol and require additional support to meet our English language requirements, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Read more about our Pre-Sessional English Programme.

Deferred entry

We accept deferred entry applications for this course.

Read more about entry requirements.

How to apply

Read more about undergraduate applications.

Read more about international applications and key international deadline dates.

For further information


UWE Main Campus