BSc (Hons) Nursing (Learning Disability)

UCAS code Typical offer Length
B763 BBB (See full entry requirements) 3 years full-time
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Learning Disability nursing

learning disability nursing two

Learning Disability nursing

learning disability three

Learning Disability nursing

Ranked as being 'outstanding' for practice experience in a recent NMC monitoring audit, this dynamic programme prepares you to work with people with learning disabilities across a range of community based settings. Our programme extends your knowledge and understanding towards analysing and evaluating the effects of the provision of services and general life issues that influence the health of people with learning disabilities. The key feature that enables this is the structure of the practice experience known as 'individual-led practice'.

Course overview

As a nursing student in the Department of Health Sciences you will experience the benefits of a large, multidisciplinary department offering a broad range of taught and research programmes, combined with an extensive practice experience in the health and social care field.

Nursing Times Student Award 2013

Jemma Pogson, a third year Health Sciences learning disability student, has won the Student Nursing Times Outstanding Contribution to Practice Placement Award at the 2013 Student Nursing Times Awards. The awards are open to all nursing students across the UK and this award is a generic award that spans all fields of practice, across the whole of the UK and is an outstanding achievement.

Jemma Pogson

Paul Evans, Learning Disability Field Lead says “Jemma's outstanding contribution to practice demonstrates how she has developed insight, skills and empathy to respond in a way that shows she has the ability to unpick very complex and demanding situations to give the best support for the clients in her care. As an example of how the 6C's would look in practice, Jemma is that reality and I heartily congratulate her.

Read more about the award

Individual Led Practice (PDF  , 301kb) links you directly with individual clients, including adults and children in their family homes, residential and day services across a range of agencies. You will therefore have the opportunity to develop your own portfolio of skills whilst gaining experience in a wide variety of health and supporting services, including the voluntary and independent sectors.

There is a particular focus on the involvement of users of learning disability services. The outcome of this programme should enable you, as a learning disability nurse, to work within a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency team of professionals.

Service users are involved in the curriculum in a meaningful way and take part in the interview process for each student. More information about this can be found in the following pdf: Service User Involvement (PDF  , 187kb).

What you'll study

During Year 1, you will start to develop the foundations of knowledge you need to progress as a student nurse, applicable across all fields of practice. You will gain a preliminary understanding of core subjects and start to directly apply your knowledge and understanding to nursing practice.

You will spend a total of 24 weeks in practice and will be based in a wide variety of settings throughout North Yorkshire. This may include residential and nursing homes, acute and critical care, primary care and community health.

Modules in Year 1 include: 

  • Individual and Public Health
  • Fundamental Communication
  • Skills in Nursing
  • Professional Identity
  • Promoting Quality and Safety in Healthcare

Year 2 - you will begin to focus your work around your field of practice, although you will continue to work with students from all fields of practice in your CLG. You will begin to develop a deeper, more critical understanding of nursing practice and of your role as a partner in relation to others. You will be encouraged to consider your role within the context of different healthcare settings and alongside other health and social care disciplines.

Modules in Year 2 include:

  • Person-Centred Communication
  • Health Needs of People with Learning Disabilities
  • Understanding and Supporting People whose Behaviour challenges others

Year 3 - working within your preferred field of practice in Year 3, you will concentrate on the acquisition of specialist knowledge and skills. The focus will be on your professional development as an accountable practitioner and leader and you will be introduced to increasingly complex and challenging problems. Consolidation of your learning will be demonstrated through the completion of a project specifically linked to an aspect of your practice. Practice in your final year will provide an opportunity to prepare for your role as a registered nurse. During this final year you will also have the chance to undertake a short elective placement which may be elsewhere in the UK or overseas.

Modules in Year 3 include:

  • Understanding and Supporting Individuals with a Learning Disability who use Forensic Services
  • Extended Service Improvement Project 

Module descriptors for each of the above modules can be found on our student intranet - please see the 'pre-reg Nursing Oct 2011' tab.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.

How you'll be taught


Our aim is to provide you with a teaching and learning environment that will encourage and support you to become an exceptional registered nurse; we want you to be able to gain a sound understanding of the key principles of nursing.

The focus is on making your learning relevant to your practice. We place a great deal of emphasis on integrating your theory and practice throughout the programme to ensure that you have a excellent grounding for your nursing career.

Teaching staff in the Department help and encourage you to develop your skills by providing you with a variety of learning opportunities. You will be taught via lectures, seminars and working groups. Co-operative learning groups (CLGs) are used as a way of integrating you into the nursing community by developing your professional nursing identity. You will stay in the same CLG for the whole of your programme. This will provide you with the opportunity to form a strong working relationship with your peers and CLG facilitator and enable you to experience perspectives from all aspects of nursing care and practice.

We will expect you to make a shift during the programme to a more self directed form of study but you will be guided and supported throughout by experienced academic staff. 


Throughout your programme you will experience a variety of practice experiences that will help to build and shape your knowledge and skills for your future role as a qualified nurse.

Our Learning Disability team received the outcome of Outstanding for practice experience in the 2010 Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) annual monitoring.

These practice experiences could be anywhere within the North Yorkshire region. You will have the opportunity to experience practice in one of the largest geographical counties in the UK. This will enable you to work with a diverse range of people from different cultures who live in busy cities, rural communities and coastal towns. 

You will follow a range of patients or clients being cared for across agency or service boundaries and you will develop an understanding of the clients experience of healthcare. You will be attached to an experienced mentor who will help to guide and assess your practice and knowledge and who will also be a source of support and reassurance. You will also have a link lecturer from the University to ensure you receive the best possible support.

Practice experience will be gained over the full 24 hour period; you will be required to work a full pattern of shifts, including nights and weekends, early and late shifts. You will be provided with a University of York student nurse uniform to help form your identity in practice.

Learning Resources

We strive to provide you with excellent facilities to aid your learning using up to the minute technology and information systems. We have excellent IT labs and a state-of-the-art Clinical Simulation Unit (CSU). These facilities enable you to develop clinical procedures under safe and supervised conditions.

How you'll be assessed

You will be assessed throughout the programme in both theory and practice elements. You have to successfully complete all areas to be able to progress through the programme.

A variety of assessment methods, including presentations, essays, reports, simulated scenarios and examinations will be used. Individual written assessment feedback will be provided to you for every piece of summatively assessed work, with the exception of closed examinations. In addition your feedback may be provided verbally. Verbal feedback can be on a one-to-one basis with academic member of staff or delivered to you on a group basis.

Your practice experience will be assessed by your designated mentor who will be able to observe you develop in confidence and skill and be best placed to make judgements on your nursing ability in this setting.

Careers and employability

The Department of Health Sciences has an excellent record in students achieving immediate employment after completion of their programme. Most go into careers with NHS Trusts in North Yorkshire and in other areas of Northern England as well as other non-NHS and independent organisations in the UK.

Typical first posts are as band 5 staff nurses in the NHS, although some do go into employment in social care and independent sector organisations.

Further career opportunities might include:

  • community nursing
  • residential care
  • forensic care  
  • research nurse
  • high dependency nurse
  • nurse consultant
  • lecturer in nursing
  • modern matron
  • clinical nurse specialist
  • clinical educator
  • chief nurse
  • liaison nurse

Professional profiles


Nicola Cowley: "the Department of Health Sciences provided me with tutorship that equipped me to communicate on all levels. They taught me to think outside the box to deliver exceptional healthcare."

How to apply

For more information about our application process, please click on the following link: how to apply.

Entry requirements

A levels


Please note we no longer accept General Studies or Critical Thinking as a subject choice. Two A levels are preferred from the academic subject list.


You must already hold GCSE English Language, Maths and Science (at Grade C or above) or equivalent qualification at the point of application. Applicants undertaking GCSE resits or commencing an equivalent qualification after application will not be considered. You must hold these qualifications at the time of applying unless they are incorporated within your programme of study, for instance Access programmes and BTECs.

International Baccalaureate


Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

SQA Highers (without AH) - AABBB

SQA Advanced Highers + Highers - BB + BBBBB

Irish Leaving Certificate



BTEC National Diploma - DDM

QCF BTEC Extended Diploma - DDM

BTEC National Diploma in early Years or BTEC National Certificate in early Years (Theory & Practical) - DDD

European Baccalaureate

75% overall average

Other qualifications

Access to HE diploma - 60 credits with at least 45 credits achieved at Level 3. You must achieve 15 level 3 credits at distinction and 30 level 3 credits at merit. At least 15 level 3 credits should be in science subjects. We will not normally consider applicants who have progresssed to an access course within three years of taking A levels and failing to achieve the necessary grades for entry to the programme.

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma - Pass with M2 in three Principle Subjects / Global Perspectives

English Language Requirements


Mature students

Evidence of care experience in a relevant setting is considered positively and we welcome applications from mature students.