Learning Disabilities Nursing (pre-registration) MSc

Study level: Postgraduate
Nurse engaged with a young patient getting her blood pressure taken

This MSc course offers graduates from a range of backgrounds the opportunity to enter the nursing profession in two years.

Year of entry



Coventry University (Coventry)

Study mode



2 years full-time

Course code


Start date

January 2025

Course overview

Fully accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), this course provides eligibility for registration as a nurse on successful completion of the two-year course (additional costs may apply).

This course is designed to equip you with the theoretical knowledge and care skills to provide holistic, person-centred care for people with learning disabilities and the people who support them. The focus of the course is to develop nursing skills which will reduce health inequalities, as well as maintain and promote the health of people with learning disabilities so that they can reach their potential.

  • The course aims to ensure that you have the knowledge and skills to provide effective support for individuals with learning disabilities, including those with profound and multiple disabilities within a range of settings.
  • You will have the opportunity to apply a wide range of creative interventions to facilitate quality care in varying settings, enabling people with learning disabilities to experience valued and fulfilled lives across their lifespan.
  • Study in the Alison Gingell building which features hospital wards, operating theatre, critical care settings, community housing and other real-life nursing environments relevant to practice4.
  • All eligible students on this course can apply for a minimum payment from the Government of £5,000 per year, with additional payments for students incurring childcare costs6.
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Why you should study this course

  • The course is aimed at individuals with a prior undergraduate degree and evidence of experience in health and social care (please see entry requirements for full details). Previous undergraduate degrees may include (but are not limited to) health-related disciplines, psychology, criminology, sociology or childhood education degrees. Those with non-health-related degrees must demonstrate extensive experience in the clinical health and social care sector (see entry requirements for more information). It is also suitable for existing nurses looking for dual qualification.
  • Designed to challenge you to develop high standards of person-centred care, skills in coordinating complex care, clinical, legal and ethical decision-making, leadership and mentoring, the course is complemented by research and evidence-informed practice and independent project work which is focused on, and promotes, service improvement.
  • You will have the opportunity to study and develop specialist skills in communication, comprehensive health assessment, equality and diversity, and issues related to professional practice. This includes the study of complex health needs, care packages and therapeutic approaches to service users with learning disabilities.
  • The course will facilitate you to lead in the implementation and coordination of positive behavioural approaches, adapted mental and physical health interventions and additional clinical specialism including the provision of care in forensic and secure environments. You will be equipped with the necessary theory-practice skills in trans- and multi-disciplinary assessment, which is at the core of best practice. This course requires individuals with excellent communication skills and a person-centred and empathetic approach to those with healthcare needs.
  • Clinical placements2,5 are integral to the Learning Disabilities Nursing MSc, accounting for 50% of the course. This includes clinical practice in a range of healthcare settings (organised by the university) and practice learning with local practice collaborators. Learning Disabilities Nurses work in collaboration with individuals with learning disabilities and with a range of other health professionals to provide a multidisciplinary approach to person-centred care. You will complete placements in a variety of settings such as community teams, respite care, secure service provision, autism services and other services relevant to learning disabilities nursing. Practice assessment is divided into two parts which build on proficiencies required to become autonomous nurse practitioners.
  • Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects, including additional physical and mental health needs in people with learning disabilities, adapted therapeutic approaches, forensic issues in the learning disabled population, positive approaches to behaviour management and other contemporary issues. Your studies will focus on the needs of populations, individuals, related health and nursing services with an emphasis on using research to enhance and improve services for people with learning disabilities. You will be encouraged to act as a champion for the service users you work with and support their diverse needs.
  • You will study in the multi-million-pound Alison Gingell Building, which provides facilities4 for teaching and research, featuring an operating theatre, mock wards, critical care settings, community housing and other real life nursing environments relevant to practice.
  • Upon successful completion, in addition to eligibility for NMC registration, you will also graduate with a Chartered Management Institute (CMI) accredited1 qualification in Global Professional Development and have the opportunity to apply to become a member of the CMI.

Accreditation and professional recognition

This course is accredited and recognised by the following professional bodies:

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Nursing and Midwifery Council

The course is currently fully accredited1 by the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for the 2024/25 intake and, providing you also meet the NMC requirements, on successful completion you will be eligible to apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (additional costs may apply).

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

As part of this course, you will undertake a professional development module which is currently accredited by Chartered Management Institute (CMI) for the 2024-25 intake. Upon successful completion of the module, you will gain the CMI Level 7 Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership Practice at no additional cost. Further details can be found on the Professional Development module homepage.

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What you'll study

The practice component considers the knowledge base that underpins person-centred care delivery/management, and the range of skills required to care for individuals with learning disabilities and additional health needs. This includes physical and mental health conditions.

The delivery of theory components is through a range of modules which focus on extending your knowledge and cognitive skills, providing you with a sound critical, analytical and reflective approach to person-centred care delivery.

You will contribute to the health of the local community throughout the course during practice placements2,5 where you will be expected work 40 hours a week and provide a range of nursing care to people across the lifespan, and in a variety of care settings.



  • The development of evidence-informed and evidence-based care from a solid research base is essential to the science of nursing care. The module content is organised to demonstrate the use of evidence within nursing and healthcare practice - for example, in governance policy/guidelines - and how they affect everyday nursing practice. The background understanding of how research is used to develop the evidence base for contemporary nursing practice will be examined by applying research principles to a clinically relevant action research project2,5.


  • The module aims to enable you to develop skills in identifying and assessing existing conditions in individuals with learning disabilities, as well as screening for factors predisposing persons to ill health and the issues presented in assessing people with learning disabilities. You will be able to critically apply healthcare assessment skills used in nursing across the lifespan to formulate a person-centred plan of care.


  • Decision-making in nursing requires an evaluation of many complex factors, and in conjunction with a wealth of health-related information, the nurse needs to have the cognitive skills to use this knowledge to underpin decisions about the care of the individual with Learning Disabilities. This module aims to assist you in developing strategies for advanced decision-making in the context of person-centred care. The module content will be organised around a variety of subjects to include the professional, legal and ethical responsibility and other subject-theory domains that influence advanced decision-making.


  • Upon completion of the module, you should be able to critically apply person-centred therapeutic interventions used in the care and support of people with learning disabilities across the lifespan. The focus of the module will include the critical application of knowledge across a range of therapeutic interventions using a holistic approach. Current policy documents that drive the enhancement of health care interventions will underpin the module content.


  • This module introduces you to the foundations of nursing practice in the workplace. The experience will provide you (under supervision) with learning opportunities which will begin to develop the professional values, attitudes and behaviours required to deliver safe and effective, holistic, person- and family-centred care.


  • This module provides further opportunity for you to review and deliver nursing practice in the workplace. This experience will enable you to demonstrate and promote professional values, attitudes and behaviours required to provide safe and effective holistic person-centred care. The module is underpinned by the NMC Future Nurse Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses (2018); and Realising Professionalism: Standards for Professionalism and Education (2018) for nursing and midwifery. Although the module is generic the content and assessment will be developed and applied to the differing fields of nursing. It will provide you with learning opportunities in the workplace to practice nursing and to develop the capabilities identified within the collaborative framework.


Year two will further develop your knowledge and skills, to enable consolidation and implementation of your learning. You will become an increasingly autonomous practitioner working within a multi-disciplinary team, using evidence to support your decision-making and improvements in services.


  • In the healthcare environment, Learning Disabilities Nurses provide care and support to people with learning disabilities and associated complex physical and mental health co-morbidities across the lifespan. Complex care necessitates treatment from multi-professional services and service user involvement in the care management and care delivery. The module aim is to facilitate students in developing the necessary knowledge and proficiency to coordinate and manage person-centred care in the multidimensional healthcare setting. The module content will include a critical review of the current policy and legislative documents that drive, influence and enhance the coordination of complex care.


  • This module aims to give you a practical and theoretical understanding of how coaching and mentoring is used in a range of settings in different organisations and sectors. You will typically have the opportunity of working with other students - across disciplines or from a variety of workplace settings - to facilitate an appreciation of how different sectors approach coaching and mentoring and how it is possible to learn from each other to come up with novel approaches. As part of this module, you will devise a coaching and mentoring plan and consider how its impact may be evaluated. Alongside coaching and mentoring, you will study the principles and practice of strategic leadership. The topics of leadership and management, leadership styles and issues such as empowerment and trust will be considered. In particular, you will consider how leadership can set or influence an environment in which coaching and mentoring can flourish. The module will engage you in wide-ranging debates and problem-solving exercises using examples from organisations, small businesses, communities and the third sector.


  • This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the interrelationship between law and ethical healthcare practice, related to the British legal system. You will explore the areas of contention which may include, but are not limited to, disagreement with caregivers, treating patients with impaired decision-making, dignity in care, assisted suicide, end-of-life/Advanced directives, controversial interventions or other. You will be equipped to recognise and manage the ethical challenges relating to your practice, as well as individuals’ legal and ethical rights in the context of healthcare and wellbeing across a range of care settings.


  • The module is the culmination of the programme and enables you to bring together your learning into one independent, self-directed workplace project. The aim is to produce a project that will explore service redesign, current practice-based problem/issues, policy implementation, initiatives or innovations which will impact upon or transform patient care. The project is a service improvement plan or business proposal which addresses an aspect of workplace practice. Individual student supervision is provided to offer guidance on the right choice of project and advice on all stages of the project.


  • This module provides you with further opportunities in the workplace to enable you to work more independently with less direct supervision in an increasingly proficient and confident manner in your delivery of quality, holistic, person- and family-centred care. It will provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate through your practice your potential to become an autonomous practitioner. The module is underpinned by the NMC Future Nurse Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses (2018); Realising Professionalism: Standards for Professionalism and Education (2018) for nursing and midwifery. Although the module is generic the content and assessment will be developed and applied to the differing fields of nursing. It will provide you with learning opportunities in the workplace to practice nursing and to develop the capabilities identified within the collaborative framework.


  • This module aims to provide you with opportunities to practice the proficiencies identified for registration as a nurse which are stipulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (2018). This includes demonstrating your capability to lead the delivery of patient care autonomously and role model what constitutes best practice to others, positively impacting on the culture of care environments. The module is underpinned by the NMC Future Nurse Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses (2018); and Realising Professionalism: Standards for Professionalism and Education (2018) for Nursing and Midwifery. Although the module is generic the content and assessment will be developed and applied to the differing fields of nursing. It will provide you with learning opportunities in the workplace to practice nursing and to develop the capabilities identified within the collaborative framework.


How you'll learn

A range of teaching and learning methods are employed in the Learning Disabilities Nursing MSc including lectures, clinical simulation, seminars, workshops, tutorials, practical clinical work in a practice setting and work-based learning. The teaching and learning activities are intended to engage you with the relevant theory and facilitate understanding of the module content, to question and formulate ideas and perspectives on the subject material, in preparation for assessment.

You will have support in preparation for the assessments from a variety of sources. These could include your module leaders or a subject specialist in the library resources on the course-web platforms. Furthermore, you will also have support from practice educators in the clinical placement areas which are an integral part of this programme.

In addition to the teaching and learning methods, a key learning feature of this course is independent study. This means you will take the initiative and responsibility for working through the learning material and make decisions on how to collate, manage and present the information for your assessment.

Teaching contact hours 

This is a full-time course and you are expected to attend for a minimum of two and a half days each week during term time. There are four practice modules which equate to six placements throughout the two-year course; these modules are mandatory, and attendance is a necessity to meet the practice hours requirement for NMC registration. You will be expected to work 40 hours per week whilst on practice placement modules.

Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of approximately 6.5 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules. 

You must pass all modules to meet the eligibility requirement for professional registration with the NMC.

The contact hours may be made up of a combination of face-to-face teaching, individual and group tutorials, and online classes and tutorials.

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the university may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prepared for courses due to start in or after the 2023/2024 academic year to be delivered in a variety of forms. The form of delivery will be determined in accordance with Government and Public Health guidance. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


All assessment methods are aligned to the Learning Disabilities Nursing MSc programme objectives, and the learning outcomes of each module reflect the programme objective.

Assessment methods include:

  • critical appraisal essays
  • presentations
  • viva voce (oral examinations)
  • OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations)
  • reports
  • practice assessment
  • dissertation.

A Practice Assessment Document (MYEPAD) and Personal Development Portfolio (PDP) enable you to provide evidence for the acquisition of the core clinical nursing skills and field-specific skill.

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes.

As a learning disability nurse I feel privileged to have worked with individuals and their families throughout my career and to have supported people to ensure that their health needs are met. As a learning disability nurse there are lots of opportunities to make a difference to the lives of people and to support people to reach their potential. Being a learning disabilities nurse provides you with transferable knowledge and skills, so that you can be innovative and creative in how you support people and practice. The Learning Disabilities Nursing MSc will enable you to practice so that you work in partnership with people, promote good practice, and provide high quality care.

Katie Meah, Registered Learning Disability Nurse and Course Director for the Learning Disabilities Nursing MSc, 2023
A nurse holding the hand of a patient

Entry requirements

Typical offer for 2023/24 entry.

  • Applicants for Pre-registration MSc in Learning Disability Nursing should ideally hold an honours degree of 2:2 or above in a health-related subject.
  • However, applications with other degrees and relevant care experience will also be considered on an individual basis. Non-UK degrees will be accepted if healthcare-related and accompanied by a 'Certificate of Comparability' which you can obtain from www.enic.org.uk.
  • GCSE equivalent in English and Maths 4 / C or above.
  • As the MSc in Learning Disabilities Nursing is a two-year course, there is a requirement to demonstrate completion of 460 practice hours in relevant health/care settings through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process to meet the NMC standard of nursing education of 2300 practice hours. The RPL process will credit students for 460 hours to meet the stated NMC criteria. Applicants will be supported in the RPL process.*
  • Satisfactory health clearance and criminal records/enhanced DBS disclosure are also required5.

*Care is defined as activities that include washing, dressing, feeding or toileting of an individual, as well as nursing intervention procedures. Care encompasses meeting the physiological and psycho-social needs of the physically ill, mentally ill, and disabled people of all ages, in all healthcare and other community settings. This can be undertaken in a formal workplace environment, or informally in the family setting. Please contact the admissions tutor if you are unsure whether your experience meets the requirements above.

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Please refer to the full requirements in the disclaimer section5.

Fees and funding

Student Full-time Part-time
UK £9,250 per year Not available

All eligible home students on this course can apply for a minimum payment from the Government of £5,000 per year, with additional payments for students incurring childcare costs6.

For advice and guidance on tuition fees and student loans visit our Postgraduate Finance page and see The University’s Tuition Fee and Refund Terms and Conditions.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them. 

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad)

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**EU Support Bursary

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in line with that of UK students. Students studying a degree with a foundation year with us are not eligible for the bursary.

  • We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Your fee status determines your tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available to you. The rules about who pays UK (home) or international (overseas) fees for higher education courses in England are set by the government's Department for Education. The regulations identify all the different categories of student who can insist on paying the home rate. The regulations can be difficult to understand, so the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has provided fee status guidance to help you identify whether you are eligible to pay the home or overseas rate.

    If you meet all the criteria required by any one category, including any residence requirements, your institution must charge you the home rate. You only need to find one category that you fit into.


Our multi-million-pound Alison Gingell Building provides facilities4 for teaching and research, featuring hospital wards, critical care settings, operating theatre, community housing and other real life nursing environments relevant to practice.

Students and a tutor with a manikin in the hospital ward

Mock hospital wards

We have two fully-equipped mock hospital wards, each containing 4 beds. The wards are built to NHS standards and contain moveable beds, first aid equipment and patient monitoring tools, so that you can study a complete patient pathway.

Students practicing patient therapy in a community house setting

Community houses

Learn how to work with patients outside of a hospital setting in our simulated, two full-size community homes, specifically built for teaching. This gives you the opportunity to learn in situations that mirror real life scenarios.

Paramedic student attending to a patient in the ambulance


Learn in critical care settings with the use of a mock ambulance, giving you the chance to experience patient scenarios in a real-world environment.



Careers and opportunities

Upon successful completion, you will be eligible to apply for registration as a Learning Disability Nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to practice as a registered professional in nursing.

The course is a strong indication to current and potential employers that you have both the ability and the academic characteristics required for working in a variety of Learning Disability settings. The programme is developed to position you for an accelerated career pathway to become a future nursing leader, clinical expert, educator or researcher within the profession.

Where our graduates work

For nursing provision, employability is nearly 100%, and employment is possible in a variety of clinical/specialist areas in a range of public and private healthcare settings. It may be possible to use your qualification to work overseas.

How to apply

  • Coventry University together with Coventry University London, Coventry University Wrocław, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough, and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the University) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University.


    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or international opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be unpaid and/or subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel, public authority guidance, decisions or orders and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand any visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For international students, we may increase fees each year, but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.


    Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.


    Satisfactory health clearance and enhanced criminal record disclosure is also required. As part of the health clearance checks, you will be required to provide information about your immunity and vaccination status. The information you provide will be used to determine your eligibility to go on placement(s). Placements are provided at the placement provider’s discretion. The university is, therefore, unable to guarantee the provision of placements or the location and type of placement offered.

    6NHS payment

    The rules may be subject to review by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in the future and as a result may change. Please, therefore, check the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website for up-to-date information before applying.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the current 2023/2024 contract is available on the website for information purposes however the 2024/25 Contract is currently being updated so please revisit this page before submitting your application. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

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